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Old February 22nd, 2008, 08:15 AM   #1
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Steadicam JR Modification Help Needed

I've been researching for a bit and can't seem to find what I need. I just purchased a Steadicam JR w/b&w monitor for use with my Canon Optura (original 35mm looking version ~ 2lbs). Going through the video and manual I've discovered that the center balance point on the camera is about 1-1/4" ahead of the tripod screw, front heavy. Problem is that the Stage of the Steadicam JR isn't long enough to balance this camera.

I'm new at all this but I see two ways to correct this; one is that I can add more weight to unit but that also means a heavier setup, two is that I can somehow extend the back of the stage a couple of inches by adding something to it, keeping whatever I use on top the adjustable area so I can still adjust it as needed. Not sure it matters, but I plan to add a quick release to the setup.

Has anyone done this or have any suggestion of what to use/try? I've attached a picture of the camera and my rough idea in case it helps.

Thanks!
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Last edited by Dave Eaton; February 22nd, 2008 at 09:08 AM.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 09:08 AM   #2
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Check with Tiffen.

They make an offset plate that should fix issues with cameras will unnatural balance points.

You mount the plate on the camera, and then mount the plate to the stage of the JR.

Like this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ing_Plate.html
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 10:57 AM   #3
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Hey, thanks, that's pretty much what I was going to make. I spoke to Tiffen Wednesday and was told they didn't have parts for the JR and that I should consider a Merlin. I thought it was support I spoke with, maybe it was sales.

Related, do you or anyone else know where I can get a cable to connect my camera to the JR's monitor? The standard one that came with the camera is too long and has three RCA connectors on the end. What I need is about a 12" cable with a mini 4-contact AV connector on one end and a single RCA connector on the other. See attached picture.

I spoke with Canon and they don't have one nor did they know for sure if there'd be any problems if I just used a RCA to mini-phono adapter and connecting all three contacts (video, audio left & right). Not sure I want to risk it. I can hack one together but if there's one already made. Thanks again!
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 11:49 AM   #4
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If you get a stereo audio 1/8" to 2 RCA adapter, the right channel of it will be your video signal, the left channel will be one of the channels of audio. One that connects all of the connections together wouldn't give you a proper video signal.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 12:37 PM   #5
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Oh, you are good! I'd totally forgot about the size of a stereo adapter and found an adapter in my bin. Checked the contacts and should be good to go with a short cable from Radio Shack. Looks like the same size, too. Thanks!

Now to set this stuff up and learn the Steadicam walk. :-)
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 12:41 PM   #6
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Great note Tom, I hadn't realized that was the case. Dave, then it will be a simple matter of just clipping off the other RCA pigtail, or you can get fancy and chop the cable down and make a simple splice for a shorty cable.

I kind of dig your "vintage" setup--hope you got a great deal on the JR!

just read your post Dave--your adaptor should probably be a right angle if you were to use one as having something sticking out the side of the camera like that is risky (if it catches, you could damage the jack on the camera, which is quite small to begin with). Better to go with a cable with the right connector on it as Tom suggested.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 01:55 PM   #7
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Yes, got a great deal on the JR and love my Optura. Just sold my JVC HD as I don't need HD yet and like using the Optura better, love the odd "Gotham City" look and form factor -- just bought another and may get a 3rd.

Depends on what I find at Radio Shack to what I make/chop. Anything will beat dangling or tying up a 3' cable setup. Definitely want a right angle connector.

Hopefully I can get this setup and balanced this week so I can start learning to use the JR. Truthfully, I have no immediate need for a Steadicam, I just wanted one and to learn to use it well. And, like the old saying, "Give a boy a hammer, and everything he sees will need pounding.", I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of Steadicam work once I learn. Ask, and I'll happily teach you my patented "falling down the stairs backward" look. :-)

BTW, LOVED your clips on steadishots.org, very nice work. I've noticed that now when I watch TV and movies I look for the Steadicam work and cheer the really good stuff. Annoys my friends but so what. :-)

The link to your "Garrett Brown, Thank You" has been sent to all my friends with a note saying, "Well now you'll know why I wanted a Steadicam." :-)
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 02:59 PM   #8
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I would be extremely leery of using any kind of "monkey-rigged" plug for the monitor. You'll notice that the stereo adaptor in your picture has only 2 rings meaning it is a 3-conductor. The standard video/audio cable has 3 rings, meaning it is a 4-conductor. From the looks of it, you'd be causing a short in the camera across the two contacts at the base of the pin.

Someday I'd like to get a short cable for my JR too, but I just bundled a standard cable into about a 5" long packet and secured it with cable ties, leaving only the connectors free. This bundle fits very nicely into the hand-strap on the side of my GL-2, and was easy to trim the balance. Ironically, it does make my camera noticeably more stable too. The only "problem" it causes is when changing tapes, as the bundled cable blocks the tape compartment door and needs to be moved. Not a big deal really.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 03:52 PM   #9
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All that "short" is doing is connecting the right audio output to ground. I've done this for a few years with my little Canon ZR60. I just hooked it up on my desk using basically the same adapter that Dave had, and it's working fine, I have a video signal, and the left channel of sound. I plugged in the more standard 4-pole cable, and all channels still worked properly. It hasn't ever caused any adverse effects I can see.

If you'd like to be cautious though, you could just buy another 3 foot A/V cable, slice off the audio cables, and bundle it up, making a shorter cable, similar to what Frank said, but making an even smaller bundle (only one cable instead of 3).
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:06 AM   #10
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Finding the cable I want, approx. 1' with a right angle AV connector, is proving harder than I thought. I may just modify one of the 3' standard AV to 3 RCA cables I have by peeling back the yellow plug's wire and snipping off the other two. Don't want a 3' cable so I may snip the end off and reconnect lower. First, I want to get the unit balanced.
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Old February 25th, 2008, 08:35 PM   #11
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Modified the plate I bought and stuck the quick release and the Optura on the Steadicam JR. WAY too rear heavy now. Well that’s better than front heavy but there’s no easy way to move the thing forward maybe 1/2 way. So I went back to front heavy mode and stared at it.

For kicks I stuck a roll of duct tape on the battery compartment as weight. The freakin’ thing almost perfectly balanced! I was able to tweak the controls to center and balance it. It’s WAY too heavy to use that way, and ugly, but it was a “cookie” showing me balance is possible and how it adjusts when it’s roughly balanced. More tweakin’. Getting there.
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Old March 2nd, 2008, 05:53 PM   #12
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Anyone have a cut-away or something on the Steadicam JR? I had to take it apart trying to glue together a couple broken pieces (came that way when I bought it -- see below) and I have a thin washer left over after reassembling it -- I know, it's lighter now and will balance better. :-)

In taking it apart I got more and more impressed with the way the thing was made. It's more complicated than I'd have thought.

Also, anyone know what kind of plastic it is so I can get the proper glue if this last attempt fails? Tried JB Weld and Super Glue and after flexing it a few times it broke at the mend both times. Just tried a 2-part Super Glue (brush on activator and glue), but haven't opened and closed it yet to see if it will hold. Thanks!
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