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Old November 5th, 2012, 02:57 AM   #1
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Rolling Rack for video gear

I had been looking for a rolling cart to transport all (or, most) of my junk while out shooting. A few years back I purchased a rolling (janitor-style) cart from Harbor Freight for ~$50, and it was starting to fall apart. (Incidentally, if you have never been to Harbor Freight, you will fall in love with it - unreliable equipment at unbeatable prices!) I liked the form factor (24x36 and on wheels), but the version I had was just too flimsy. I looked at a variety of options (namely Equipment Carts - Filmtools), but seriously, do people really pay $2k for a cart?

Building something seemed time consuming and unlikely to (jn the long term) be more reliable than another throw-away cart.

One day in a restaurant, I saw a busser pushing the perfect cart. I asked the manager where they got the cart, and I was met with a blank stare. Google to the rescue - I found a cousin of the cart I'd fallen in love with at the restaurant:

Eagle Group EU2-2436Z - Utility Cart - Stainless Steel Bus Carts - BigTray

$167 later, this baby was at my door. She's just as solid and pretty as she looks in the pictures.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/35687/Forum...2013.34.25.jpg

From one side, you can see the box that I built to house my LED lights. It's a box with three dividers (to make four compartments), lined with some foam I picked up at an upholstery shop. The bottom of the box extends out to the right and creates a platform for my light stands. There is no funny business to this box, just screws and wood - any idiot (I am a perfect example) should be able to construct this. Three of the slots are filled with 1000 LED panels, one of the slots has two 500 LED panels in it. The barndoors and knuckles are already on the lights.

To their left is two sandbags.

Further left is a TV monitor (It's a Vizio 24", model number unknown), more on that in a moment.

Above the light crate is a powerstrip, affixed to the crate. It is plugged into itself (for travel), the monitor is also plugged into it. The idea here being that you could plug a battery charger in here, a couple of lights, the laptop, whatever. But you wouldn't have to hunt for a power strip.

On the top shelf (and this is pretty apparent from all views) is a 24" toolbox (to take advantage of the full width of the cart), and the camera (in a Pelican 1510). In the toolbox is everything you don't see here (C47's, gels, AA's, 9V's, a wrench, a screwdriver, duct tape, gaffer tape, caution tape, a couple rags, various audio/video connectors, granola bars, a bottle of water or two. In the Pelican 1510 is a Sony FS-100, two Sennheiser G3's, batteries, filters, SD cards, etc. There is also room up here for various other crap, right now holding a third sandbag (which will actually fit below, but I must have not squeezed it in that day) and some extension cords.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/35687/Forum...2013.34.13.jpg

On the opposite side, you mostly see the back of the light crate. There is just enough room for the tripod here, and an additional sandbag.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/35687/Forum...2013.34.18.jpg

On the end you push are two FRS walkie-talkies, the 24" monitor, an extension cord, and a HDMI cable. When we arrive where we're going to shoot, I first place the cart where everyone can see the monitor, then plug it in using the extension cord, and plug the camera into the HDMI. Now the cables are unraveled (and the monitor is unobstructed), and you are ready to plug in and shoot. The monitor never leaves the cart.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/35687/Forum...2013.37.49.jpg

This is the other end (the end you can't push), four light stands. (Two aluminum, shorter, lighter - and two steel, heavier, taller.) They clip in to one of those things that you put in your shed to hold your broom and your rake. I wish I had a better name for this thing, but that's what it does. I'm using it stock, I did not modify it other than to drill two holes in the cart to mount it. It will hold the light stands over moderate bumps (door thresholds, etc), but do not plan to do a lot of four wheeling with this setup.

I have a couple of Harbor Freight ramps to get this whole getup into the van. (They slide in and out manually.) Sadly, the light stands are too tall to fit through the door, so I remove them (and I have the same garden tool-holder in the van to hold them while I travel). Then, you *could* leave the sandbags on the cart as you singlehandedly push it up this gargantuan ramp, but it seems so easy to just remove them (and cut the overall weight in half), so I remove those also. Finally, the camera is held to the top of the rack merely by gravity, and when you raise this cart at the 30 degree angle required to get it up the ramp, you are seriously f'ing with gravity, so I remove the camera before stowing, as well.

The whole process only takes about five minutes (as opposed to the old system, which was stripping the cart naked before lifting it into the van).

Overall, I'm really pleased with the system. Particularly the fit of the monitor, which was 100% pure chance, I had no idea it would work that slick before I bought the cart. I wish I had somewhere to hang a couple more extension cords (and maybe an XLR or two), but on any side you hang things, you are now blocking access to whatever is behind it. I am almost 100% wireless audio at this point, so I leave the XLRs in the van, and I just through a couple of extension cords on the top.
Attached Thumbnails
Rolling Rack for video gear-2012-10-22-13.34.25.jpg   Rolling Rack for video gear-2012-10-22-13.34.13.jpg  

Rolling Rack for video gear-2012-10-22-13.34.18.jpg   Rolling Rack for video gear-2012-10-22-13.37.49.jpg  

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Old November 11th, 2012, 08:21 AM   #2
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

For hanging cords, try double sided velcro strips, they work great.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 11:20 AM   #3
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Watson View Post
I looked at a variety of options (namely Equipment Carts - Filmtools), but seriously, do people really pay $2k for a cart?
This is probably a rhetorical question but the answer is yes. First off, most of those carts are under $2K, and the feature set most comparable to the cart you bought is around $700. The advantages of the latter are going to be numerous. Instead of hard rubber casters, these have 8 or 10" pneumatic tires which will ford rough terrain and go over cables and bumps much more easily. The back wheels have locks, which keep the cart from taking a stroll by itself when parked on a slope. The shelves are solid so small items won't fall through, and have lips to keep things from falling off.There are a variety of accessories available to hang or mount things specific to the job at hand.

You've done a nice job with your cart and I'm glad it serves you well. It seems like it would work perfectly well moving from a parking lot into a building. I think you'd agree that pushing it through a muddy field on a grade would be rough. The carts at Filmtools are designed for all conditions and the price is premium as a result. A set of four pneumatic wheels alone can cost upwards of $250 (on some of the carts they are removable, which aids in shipping--some of the carts collapse into their own shipping container, very handy).

These are not even the most expensive carts made for the industry by the way--there is a new company making a high end product that is pretty amazing: Inovativ - Equipment carts for the entertainment industry. Even I questioned the need for some of the details, like the handbrake, until I thought about what it takes to move a cart down a hill without it running away.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 11:13 PM   #4
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Indeed, rhetorical. As long as they are making it and someone is buying it, who am I to question the business model?

I was specifically wanting to stay away from pneumatic wheels - from wheelbarrows to jogging strollers to red wagons, I have never had one that didn't constantly leak air. Although, the ride would be much nicer.

Thank you for the responses.
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Old December 8th, 2012, 09:00 PM   #5
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Mike, nice job on your cart. It has had me thinking about what would work for my needs. I love the efficiency of your set up. I have so much gear and every job has different requirements I will need to build something with a lot of versatility. I am sick of all the time I spend just getting ready to load my truck. You got my wheels spinning.

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Old September 20th, 2015, 02:02 AM   #6
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Yes, they absolutely do spend that much ($2k) on a cart. I almost did it myself, except that the Magliners/Geminis are HEAVY AS HELL, more than one not-burly person (i.e. me) could reasonably lift by themselves without injury. Even the base model Magliner Jr. is a beast, and unfortunately not long enough for some of the things I'd need to carry .

I have looked around, a lot, and unfortunately (because QA/QC is all over the place and you never know when you're gonna get a lemon), the best choice in my opinion right now is still the Multicart/Rock N Roller carts

RocknRoller MultiCart ? Multi-Carts

Affordable, fairly light, extend very long, collapse very small. Most people in town in our industry have these. If you get one really test it out before your 30-day return period is over 'cause they are known to have issues. Maybe you can get lucky and find one of the really old ones (company was bought by someone else or moved manufacturing to somewhere else or something at some point, quality problems began at that time), you'll know them 'cause they are red and grey rather than black and yellow.
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Old September 20th, 2015, 11:19 AM   #7
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

+1 on the MultCart. Lightweight-ish, fold up small, holds everything.
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Old September 20th, 2015, 12:25 PM   #8
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

No work surface on those multi-carts. Wouldn't work for me.
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Old September 20th, 2015, 01:31 PM   #9
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Watson View Post
No work surface on those multi-carts. Wouldn't work for me.
Huh? They sell several different work surfaces, from a carpeted shelf that stretches end-to-end to a computer station that fits one or the other set of handles.

And the MultiCarts are so popular that third parties sell accessories for them. For example, here's a bag that fits over the handles that holds all your lightstands.
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Old September 20th, 2015, 03:38 PM   #10
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

I have the shelf system that runs about $65. It has two sections so you can use it with the cart "long" or "short".

I have the bags as well, though made by another company in Houston (probably not as high quality, but GripnGaff wasn't around when these were made). Very handy for tripods/light stands/c-stands/anything thin and long that will fit. If you were clever you could poke holes in the bag and have it on at the same time as the shelf.
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Old September 20th, 2015, 05:19 PM   #11
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Nicely configured. Mike. I had the same struggle, and for a while, used a Cosco 3 position handtruck dolly that I got for a decent price (about $100, I believe). It had 2 pneumatic tires and 2 casters.(photo attached) And other than losing air pressure occasionally, my biggest complaint was the noisy casters, that made me squirm in corporate settings on 'less than perfect' flooring. It also wasn't as compact as I liked, and had no provisions for top shelf (other than DIY welding). The answer to my prayers came with the Rock n Roller R12. (two photos attached).
I did a slight modification by adding 2 ABS plastic tubes to the front for upright light-stand storage. That added about $40 to my cost. I also purchased a carpeted top shelf (but unfortunately, can't use it with the tubes attached). A nearly perfect solution going on it's first year. Foam filled tires are so silent, I've used it as a poor-man's Fisher dolly. Locking front tires save my bacon when I'm parked on a slope (quite often here in California).
Attached Thumbnails
Rolling Rack for video gear-gear-cart-ibm-1.jpg   Rolling Rack for video gear-gear-cart-jabil.jpg  

Rolling Rack for video gear-hand-truck-1.jpg  
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Old September 21st, 2015, 10:44 AM   #12
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
Huh? They sell several different work surfaces, from a carpeted shelf that stretches end-to-end to a computer station that fits one or the other set of handles.
Apparently I couldn't be bothered to click around the website. At first glance all I saw was overpriced dollies.

My production vehicle is a cargo van, so my rig rolls in there full-sized and doesn't need to be broken down at all. Everything you see on it - it rolls in the van that way. I have considered selling the van and getting something more consumerish - Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon or the like - I might consider a cart like that if I switch over. I assume Oren's fits in that Honda Element, which would be a bonus.

Oren, you have a pic of the other side of your cart, with the monitor stand? I likey.
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Old September 21st, 2015, 11:52 AM   #13
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Unfortunately, the rails on the cart are just a few inches too high to be rolled completely into the Element. Which means unloading all the gear and repacking in the back of the truck. The monitor in the photo is not actually mine, it was on the desk right behind my cart in that particular shoot. I typically bring a 10" monitor for the client, or Small HD 4" if I want to travel lighter. Either of those fit in a small padded case.
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Old September 21st, 2015, 01:54 PM   #14
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

You may consider them overpriced but I would pay double for the same thing if it was built better. Guys in town who have or have used the older ones (before the company was sold) say those are much higher quality (roll better and the general QA/manufacturing quality).

Next step up are the Magliners, which are indisputably high quality, but if you think $220 is overpriced, then $900+ will make your head explode, and again, even the smaller Magliner (at least for me) is very heavy and doesn't extend as long as the Rock n' Roller. The one that does extend as long is more expensive, unbelievably heavy (for one person) and might not fit in an SUV (not a problem with van), and is definitely too big for many elevators.
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Old September 21st, 2015, 05:04 PM   #15
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Re: Rolling Rack for video gear

Truly, they're not that expensive, in fact, not that much more expensive than what I put together.
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