Removable Tripod/Small Table Dolly Attachments (swivel Mod Added)




This tutorial will show how to make removable tripod/small table dolly attachments that are easy to make and versatile. Time to assemble is about 5 minutes per dolly and with the exception of the skate wheels, the design uses hardware available in most hardware and home improvement stores. After seeing fungus_amungus’s instructable for the Tripod Dolly I decided that I wanted a removable version that didn’t require drilling or taping anything to my tripods. I also wanted a design that I could use with any of my tripods. Originally I started out to make removable dollies for my tripods, but after a while I realized they also worked great on small tables.

After reading a few comments, there seemed to be interest in have a version using swivel casters, so I've added a modification (step 6).

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Step 1: Tools

Step 2: Materials List for Three Dollies

Materials list for three dollies (three different sizes shown in photo):

Quantity     Part Description
3                 standard in-line skate wheels
3                 1", ¾” or ½” conduit hangers (depending on the foot size on your tripod or table leg)
3                 ¼” bar knobs (standard 20 TPI)
3                 ¼” x 1½” hex bolts (standard 20 TPI)
3                 ¼” lock nuts (standard 20 TPI)

Step 3: Choose the Conduit Hanger Needed for Your Tripod

Since not all tripods have the same size foot or shape, you will need to measure the diameter of the foot on your tripod(s). For example, for the tripods shown I needed the following conduit hanger sizes:
    - PROMASTER® SystemPRO T525P Carbon Fiber Tripod 
    - Trek-Tech T-Pod
    - Joby GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X
    - Sunpak Flexpod Pro Gripper Tripod
     - PROMASTER® 7400 Tripod

Step 4: Assemble Dollies

After selecting the appropriate size conduit hanger, swap the ¼” nuts with the ¼” bar knobs. Although ¼” wing nuts can be used, I prefer the bar knobs. Next, for each dolly, insert a ¼” x 1½” hex bolt in the ¼” hole of the hanger, add a wheel and secure with a ¼” lock nut. After you are done you should end up with something like the last photo above.

Step 5: How to Attach Dollies to Tripod Feet

Attach all of the dollies to the feet and then “tweak” the angles/positions. I’ve included an example of what they look like on my Joby GorillaPod Focus in the last photo. Although I’ve used the dollies on my PROMASTER 7400 tripod with the legs almost fully extended, you really need smooth floors when doing so.
When I use the dollies on small table legs, I like to use friction tape on the inside curve of each conduit hanger. The friction tape provides incredible grip and resists movement, thus allowing more weight on the table when moving. I used a couple of these dollies on a card table for the ‘overflow’ dessert table this past holiday and they worked great.

Step 6: Swivel Casters Modification

Some of the comments suggested swivel casters might be a useful option, so I’ve added that version as a modification. The two different versions use the same method of attachment and can be used on many types and sizes of tripods.
The first of the assembly photos shows all of the parts used in the three swivel caster attachments.
Quantity                   Part Description
3                 2” swivel rubber casters (light duty)
3                 ½” or ¾” or 1” conduit hangers (depending on the foot size on your tripod or table leg)
3                 ¼” bar knobs (standard 20 TPI)
3                 ¼” x ½” hex bolts (standard 20 TPI)
3                 ¼” lock nuts (standard 20 TPI)
12               3/16” x ¼” grip range aluminum pop rivets
3                 2” x 1/8” aluminum angle stock (each cut to the longest side of the caster mounting-plate)
I cut three pieces of 2” aluminum angle stock to match the length of the swivel caster mounting plate and cut one edge to 1 1/8”. I then rounded over and smoothed all corners & edges. I used one of the caster mounting-plates as a guide to drill four 3/16” holes for rivets. I used one of the conduit hangers to determine where to drill a ¼” hole in the other side of the angle stock. The conduit hanger should be mounted 1/8” above the inside edge of the angle stock to allow clearance of the pop rivets and the bar knob.
When you are finished drilling the angle stock, you are then ready to assemble the rest of the parts. The rest of the photos show the process of assembly and several other views of the attachment: comparison of the two types of attachments, comparison of heights of the two attachments, and two different views of the attachment while in use.

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    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    In a "normal" dolly one has four wheels that are square to each other.

    The problem here is none of the three wheels are going to be square to each other and because of that one is going to be constantly fighting alignment and will have tracking errors.

    It's a cool idea but it's rife with issues.

    Terry Thomas
    Director of Photography
    Atlanta, Georgia

    5 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Think again Terry Thomas Director of Photography.
    This is what he was replicating -


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Comparing functionality.
    The CineSkates can only be used on Gorillapods and only in a static configuration (they can not swivel). These DIY dollys were designed so that they can be used on most tripods/flexpods/Gorillapods in either a static or swivel configuration.

    Comparing costs.
    A set of CineSkates cost $200 and these DIY dollys (static & swivel) cost about $15 each to make. The savings would then be about $185 per set; nice if you only plan on using them only occasionally.

    Regardless, I hope others find these dollys as useful as I have.

    Here's a recent Adorama product review on the CineSkates:

    fungus amungustphotos

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Well, there's one big issue. Not sure it's "rife" with them.

    In practice, it's not that bad. And totally workable if you want to play with it without spending a lot of money. If you move on to a more professional level, you'd likely upgrade. Of course, you'd also be working with a much heavier camera like a RED and have more serious needs for that as well as a bigger budget to work with.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    True, camera dollies tend to have four wheels. The front wheels are usually locked in position and if steerable, the steering is done using the rear wheels. In the case of this design there are only three wheels needed - all fixed in position when the bar knobs are tightened. There is no change in the angle of the wheels while in use. The only time the angle of the wheels change is when the user manually changes the angle. When properly tightened, they simply don't move unless forced.

    When using this design it easier to steer by keeping two wheels aligned and adjust the angle of steer of the third wheel. In practice, it is relatively easy to align the wheels when you want to travel in a straight line. Slight mis-alignments may cause some drag, but since the wheels have minimal contact with the surface due to their shape, you hardly notice any drag. I haven't experienced any problems with tracking errors after positioning the wheels once I aligned them like I wanted.

    Granted, this dolly is probably not suitable for many professionals, however I think that it does offer people other options when making movies.

    The RanMacGyver9

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have a suggestion for a possible revision, using a long threaded rod to replace two of the hex bolts so you can join two of the wheels together in parallel. You'd still have quite a bit of adjustment from bending the legs and you could still place the two fixed wheels on uneven surfaces due to the shape of the wheels, the only downsides would be a larger storage size if you kept the wheels attached and if you needed the wheels further apart for some specific reason.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Decided to add a step for those who might be interested using swivel casters attachments instead of the inline skate wheels attachment. Since the casters have steel mounts & ball bearings, I used aluminum brackets and aluminum rivets to minimize additional weight. I designed the attachments so that the feet of the tripod (or table leg) will be mounted directly over the caster. Enjoy!

    Fantastic! I love seeing ideas mutate. If I had known about conduit hangers I would've likely gone in this direction as well.

    Would love to see some example footage shot with it.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    In response to the other comment I wonder if maybe a swivel caster wheel may be a little more flexible because no matter which direction it was clamped the wheels would always be in perfect alignment

    swivel casters would also allow you to do curved rolling paths and 360 degree shots where you rolled completely around the subject.

    something like this:

    off the top of my head you could probably screw, to the conduit hanger, a small wood block that had a hole in it for the caster stem. use some rubber washers to absorb any wheel vibration.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The original design allowed me to follow a set circular path around various objects without needing to worry about a change in focus. Although my camera has automatic focus in movie mode, my brother-in-law told me his Nikon D90 doesn't, so the original design would be nice in that case.

    Changing to swivel casters would certainly provide more options.