Overhead shots are a staple of how-to and unboxing videos. In this instructable I'll show you how to make a versatile and stable overhead camera rig from PVC pipe and few pieces of hardware. The rig is built around a cheap white desk top from Ikea which is the perfect work surface for the videos. The overhead rig was used in the making of my $15 motorized rotating display turntable instructable - check it out if you want to see the results.
I typically use the rig to mount an iPhone 6s+, but also also copes just fine with a DSLR.
Check out the build video to watch me build this overhead camera rig or carry on reading for a full list of instructions.
- ~10m of 40mm diameter PVC pipe £7.17 or $9.45
- 10 x 40mm PVC T-end £6.80 or $9.00
- 8 x 40mm PVC 90 degree bend £5.44 or $7.15
- 1 x acrylic sheet (150 x 100 x 3mm) £1.99 or $2.60 (eBay)
- 1 x Mini projector mount £2.48 or $3.25 (eBay)
- 7 x 25mm M6 bolt £0.50 or $0.65
- 3 x M6 washer £0.03 or $0.04
- 3 x M6 nut £0.06 or $0.08
- 4 x M6 wing nut £0.06 or $0.08
- 1 x Phone tripod mount £1.99 or $2.60 (eBay)
- 1 x Linnmon white table top (100 x 60mm) £6 or £8.99 (Ikea)
Total: £32.72 or $43.89
PVC parts and bolts were sourced from Toolstation in UK.
- Mitre box
- Large hacksaw
- Marker pen
- Measuring tape
- Electric drill
- 6mm drill bit
Step 1: Cut PVC Pipe to Length
The first job is to cut the PVC pipe to length.
There are quite a few cuts to make so if you have a chop saw available use it!
It's important to keep the ends of the pipe as square as possible. If you're not using a chop saw I'd suggest a miter box and fine toothed saw, such as a hacksaw. Remove any swarf and tidy up the newly cuts ends with sandpaper.
The measurements will depend on exactly which pipe you use. If using a different type of pipe, adjust the dimensions to allow the pipework to fit securely around the tabletop when assembled.
- 2 x 96.5 cm long lower rails
- 4 x 60.5 cm short edge upper and lower rails
- 8 x 5 cm for 90 degree angle connectors
- 4 x 74.5 cm uprights
- 2 x 44.5 cm upper right side of T-piece
- 2 x 45.5 cm upper left side of T-piece
- 1 x 54.5 cm upper center cross piece
Step 2: Assemble Lower Frame
Assemble PVC pipe and fittings to make the lower frame. Ensure a tight fit around the Ikea Linnmon table top.
- 2 x 96.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe
- 2 x 60.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe
- 4 x 5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe
- 4 x 40 mm PVC T-piece
- 4 x 40 mm PVC 90 degree turn
The long lengths of pipe fit into the center arm of the T-pieces and the 60.5 cm lengths fit between two T-pieces. Use the 5 cm long pieces of pipe as connectors between the T-pieces and 90 degree turns.
Step 3: Assemble Uprights and Upper Frame
Now to add the uprights and construct the upper frame.
First push a PVC upright into each of the 90 turns on the lower frame. Now add 90 turns to the top of each upright. Assemble the short edges of the upper frame in the same way as the lower frame using two 5 cm lengths, 2 T-pieces and 1 60.5 cm length of PVC.
The cross pieces on the long edge of the upper frame are different tot he lower frame. A T-piece is added half way along. The PVC fittings I had were not symmetrical, meaning that the pipe lengths to the left and right had to be slightly different lengths for the middle arm of the "T" to be in the center of the frame.
Once the long edges are constructed and fitted, finish the frame by installing the 54.5 cm center pipe. It's this pole that the camera mounting system will attach to.
- 4 x 74.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe (uprights)
- 2 x 60.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe (short edges)
- 2 x 45.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe (left side of center T-piece)
- 2 x 44.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe (right side of center T-piece)
- 4 x 54.5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe (center pipe)
- 8 x 5 cm length of 40 mm PVC pipe
- 6 x 40 mm PVC T-piece
- 4 x 40 mm PVC 90 degree turn
Step 4: Make Mounting Plate
A mounting plate will connect the mini projector mount to the PVC frame. On one side of the mounting plate pipe clips will fix it to the frame, on the other the mini projector mount is bolted on.
Start by using a piece of off-cut PVC pipe to align the pipe clips along the center of the acrylic plate and mark the position of the holes. Remove the pipe and clips, then offer up the project mount and mark the screw holes, getting it as central as possible. If it has an articulated end, take note of the directional and range of travel and align accordingly.
Use a 6mm drill to drill out the holes for the pipe clips and projector mount.
Use the M6 bolts, washers and nuts to attach the projector mount to the plate. Assemble the phone mount onto the end of the projector mount.
- 150 x 100 x 3 mm acrylic plate
- 3 x M6 bolts 25 mm long
- 3 x M6 washer
- 3 x M6 nut
- 1 x mini projector mount
- 1 x phone tripod mount
Step 5: Secure Mounting Plate
Secure the mounting plate onto the center arm of the upper frame using two pipe clips, M6 bolts and wing nuts. Adjust the position along the arm by loosening the nuts and sliding the mounting assembly along the arm. Tighten to secure in place.
- 2 x 40 mm pipe clips
- 4 x M6 bolts 25 mm long
- 4 x M6 wing nuts
Step 6: Finished!
That's the build finished! All that's left to do is install the camera in it's mount and start filming. Check out the video of me building some K'NEX to see what you can do with an overhead rig.
Be sure to watch the build video in step 1 if you haven't already.
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome!