Yet another camera tripod project with Loc-Line modular hose. This instructable owes its existence to the Gorilla Pod instructable by benthekahn. Before reading this one, read that one.
This extends and, hopefully, improves and simplifies the instructable mentioned above. This version of the tripod folds flat and allows for a variety of upper camera mounts. This increases the number of angles at which a (lightweight) camera can be held. It retains all of the advantages of the Loc-Line model -- flexibility, durability, and general coolness.
Step 1: Blah Blah Blah
This step is here because the first step seems to appear below the Introduction. I don't understand why and I don't think it is a good idea.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
This project requires access to a few woodworking tools -- saws for shaping the base, drills for drilling the holes, grinder for shaping bolt heads. The only unusual tool I used was a 1/4" NPT tap. It is hard to believe the tap is called 1/4" because it looks at least 1/2" in diameter, but I believe the measurement refers to the inner diameter of the pipe/hose.
This is interesting and fun stuff from ModularHose.com, master distributors of Loc-Line modular hose. Buy the pliers for assembling segments and connectors. Buy lots of this stuff because it just has to be useful for other projects. It's expensive enough that it better be useful.
41401 Loc-Line Hose Segment Pack for 1/4" system
41406 Loc-Line 1/4" NPT Connector for 1/4" system
Each tripod uses four (4) of the connectors (they come in four packs) and 24+ segments of hose (8 apiece for the three legs; additional pieces for extensions). Each two pack of hose contains 2 x 10 segments.
The base can be of any material that can be tapped with a 1/4" NPT tap. I used a small block of mahogany (scrap that I had kicking around from a project from twenty-five years ago) but a chunk of wood, metal or plastic would work as well.
Step 3: Base
The actual dimensions of the blocks are not crucial. What matters is that they are thick enough so that the threaded ends of the connectors do not collide and big enough so that the stress from the connectors do not crack out the sides. It also helps to have enough space around the connectors to be able to tighten them with a socket wrench.
These block are mahogany (soft wood) with dimensions 2 7/8" x 1 3/8" x 7/8" (2.875" x 1.375" x .875"). The initial holes were drilled with a 31/64" bit (probably 1/2" would be fine but I used what I had). They were attractively spaced three on one side and one on the other. They were then threaded with a 1/4" NPT tap. Yes! I threaded soft wood with a pipe thread! The threads were solidified and holes very slightly widened by cranking a connector in.
The wood was finished with three coats of Tung Oil and a single coat of wax.
Step 4: Tap
The 1/4" NPT (National Pipe Thread) tap creates a tapered hole for NPT threaded pipe. In addition to the hole being tapered, the cut thread on the connectors is also tapered. One drawback to this is that, because the tap does not go entirely through the block (although it could), the holes are just a little smaller than the threaded end. This caused one or two of the blocks to crack from the pressure.
Step 5: Bolt
The bolt is a 3/4" 1/4-20 bolt, the standard size for a camera mount. I had to grind down the heads of the bolts so that they would fit up in to the connectors. They are glued in (with hot glue which is probably not ideal). While the glue was setting, I threaded a single nut (not shown) on the end sticking out to set a uniform extension.
Step 6: Assembly
Screw the four connectors into the base and attach the three legs to the connectors. Because of the modularity, it is possible to have legs of any length (even unequal length if that makes sense). I settled on eight segments for the leg and four for the longer neck. The eight seem long enough to give the tripod some height and allow the legs to wrap around things and the four is just long enough to get a 90 degree bend (see pictures in next step).
Loc-Line is hard to attach by hand. The assembly pliers make it much easier. Use the pliers to attach the legs and make sure the mounting pieces as screwed in.
All done! See photographs of the finished tripod in the next step.
Step 7: Finished
The tripod and Loc-Line is strong enough to hold an SLR, but I would NOT trust it. To maintain balance it is necessary to open the legs of the tripod, but this then puts weight on almost horizontal Loc-Line. The tubing cannot support weight this way and will buckle. With the legs in position to support the weight, the camera/tripod is top heavy and will tip over.
Smaller cameras, however, can be held at all different angles and make taking pictures straight down or vertically aligned easy.