Outdoor Folding Tripod



Introduction: Outdoor Folding Tripod

Make a lightweight folding camera tripod for hiking or camping.

This is the big brother of the itsy bitsy Tennis Ball Tripod

  • recycled corrugated plastic from old signs
  • duct tape to strengthen and seal - Scotch Extra Tough keeps out water and dirt
  • short bolt  1/4 inch by 3/4 inch long by 20 thread per inch w/ matching nut
  • long bolt 1/4 inch dia. by 2-1/2 inch long by 20 thread per inch w/ matching nut
  • recycled dead tennis balls, free at any tennis court
  • X-acto or craft knife
  • optional compound shears
  • optional screwdriver
  • pencil or permanent marker
  • metal straight edge for cutting
  • cutting board

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Step 1: Gather Materials & Tools

Use the list of materials in the previous step.

Except for the bolts and duct tape, most of the tripod is made from recycled old signs and dead tennis balls (free at any tennis court).

Safety tip: wear eye protection when cutting with a craft knife as the blade might snap.

Snip tip: cut slowly to prevent snipping valuable finger tips.

Gloves won't protect you from compound shears, so just go slow.

Step 2: Cut 3 Legs

Cut along the direction of the corrugations with a metal straightedge (not shown).

Make 3 legs, each about 3 inches wide and the size of the sign. Say about 20 inches or so.

Cut a slice through the top layer of plastic only so you can  bend the legs in half along their length.

Hover mouse over photo notes for tips.

Step 3: Duct Tape Leg Hinges

Apply Extra Tough duct tape to the inside and outside of the hinge along the length of the three legs.

Step 4: Seal Leg Ends

Use duct tape to seal and protect tripod leg ends.

This keeps out water, bugs, spiders, and dirt.

It also helps make the tripod feet less slippery, say for use on a car hood or roof.

Step 5: Punch Folding Leg Holes

Using a paper punch (or a leather punch or craft knife), punch two holes near the outside corner of the two folding legs.

These holes are not centered because this way the folding legs will lock into place when they are folded out.

The corrugated end should already be sealed with duct tape (not shown).

Step 6: Punch Main Leg Holes

Get the main support leg ready to attach the two folding legs.

Punch a leg hole about 4 inches  from the top, and about halfway from the edge to the hinge.

Legs should already be sealed and strengthened with duct tape (not shown here).

Step 7: Bolt Legs to Main Leg

Push the long 1/4 20 bolt through the main leg from the outside.

Then slide the folding legs onto the bolt with the hinge facing away from the main leg hinge.

Last, slip the bolt through the other side of the main leg and loosely attach the 1/4 20 nut.

The main leg should be able to open out to a right angle when viewed from the top.

The folding legs will take on a partially shut, partially open shape.

Step 8: Make Rubber Washers

Cut one tennis ball along the seam, marked here with blue permanent marker.

Draw the rest of a roughly circular shape on the end of the half ball.

Cut it out.

Repeat to make a second washer blank.

The second photo in this step shows how to cut a 1/8 inch square hole roughly in the center of each washer.

Step 9: Prepare Tripod Head

Cut a round hole in the second tennis ball, about a 1/2 inch smaller than the washers you made in the last step.

Then cut a roughly V-shaped slot about 90 degrees away from the round hole.

The V slot is where the tripod main leg will be inserted.

Step 10: Attach Washers

Push the shorter 1/4 20 bolt through one of the rubber washers.

Fold the washer and insert it into the round hole on the tennis ball with the bolt sticking out.

Push the second washer onto the bolt and snug it up.

The washer and bolt assembly will be what screws into your camera.

Be careful that the part of the bolt sticking out is between a 1/4 and 3/8 inch.
That way it will not be too long for your camera mount.

Step 11: Attach Tripod Head to Legs

Gently screw the tennis ball onto the camera.

Slide the tennis ball V slot onto the main tripod leg.

If the fit is too loose, remove the ball and wrap the leg end with duct tape.

Try until you have a tight fit.

For quick release, you can pull the tennis ball off the end of the tripod.

Makes a lightweight, easy to use tripod for hiking or camping.

Duct tape is essential because it keeps out water, dirt, bugs, and strengthens the hinges.

Celestron Space Challenge

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Celestron Space Challenge

The Great Outdoors Duct Tape Contest

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The Great Outdoors Duct Tape Contest

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