How To Make Your Own Steadicam Rig at DVinfo.net

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Old April 2nd, 2006, 03:36 AM   #1
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How To Make Your Own Steadicam Rig

As we all have come to find out, steadicams are extremely expensive. The individuals/companies that sell these rigs know only a handful of people know how to make their own rigs, so they can charge as much as they want.

If you're looking for solutions to your steadicam woes, look no further.

I have several rig designs available to share. Although most are for relatively light camcorders, a handful are specifically for heavier systems like the XL2.

If you folks are interested I'll be more than happy to start posting all the designs. The great thing is that as we all share, hopefully we can combine our expertise and improve the rigs.

If you'd like me to start posting please email me at kellhound1@gmail.com.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 07:44 AM   #2
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Hi ! I'm very interested to see your designs , so please post it !
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 10:21 AM   #3
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Steadicam's are expensive for a reason.

A Steadicam (or any other rig) costs what is sensible, based on the cost of making the rig (NOT cheap) plus enough to make a little money, but remain competetive.
If you don't understand the costs, then you can have no hope of understanding the value or the rig itself either.

And if you want to find out what it costs to build even a working, let alone a good rig, go over to www.homebuiltstabilizers.com and take a look around. Thoguh admitedly many people there haven't ever flown a real one.


If you have designs you want to share, why not just post them instead of asking people to e-mail you? I'm a little suspicious.


- Mikko

Last edited by Mikko Wilson; April 2nd, 2006 at 03:36 PM.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 11:33 AM   #4
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These plans obviously won't give you the same thing a $60,000 rig will, but they'll do the job. And the cheapest rig so far is one priced at $1,000, minus the vest and arm. Of course, there are the cheaper $300 versions, but they're made with the same type of plans I'm posting. So, if you're happy to spend that kind of cash, go right ahead. But don't waste other people's time by trying to bash their open forum and sharing of ideas.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 11:38 AM   #5
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Here's one of the designs. The others have some pictures to go with it, but if you want those I can email an attachment for the entire thing.

Okay, this is, quite frankly, the easiest rig to make. If you have all the stuff it shouldn't take you more than an hour of easy-going, lazy work to get it done. But it's a good starter for the more complex ones that I'll post in a day or so.

The camera base is 7" X 3 5/8" X 1" Poplar. It has to have the front corners shaved down
to allow for the angle of the 1X2's that get screwed into it (you can use drywall screws, 2 on
each side). Also a hole is drilled into the base to allow for mounting the camera with a
thumbscrew. The hole is just large enough to move the camera around for balancing.
The lower section gets screwed into the 2 upper arms (1" X 2" pine) with a total of 4
screws (2 on each side), and pilot drill each screw hole (it's only pine).
The joints were all reinforced with Fiberglass cloth and resin that can be purchased at an
auto parts store.
Glue a spirit level on the base to enable balancing, which you'll have to do by mounting
the unit at the handle to something that's not moving. Leave the camera mounting
thumbscrew a little loose with the camera on the unit, then swing the unit fore and aft.
Watch the level and determine whether or not to shift the camera either way to achieve
level from that axis. Then swing the unit from side to side and watch where the bubble
ends up. Shift the camera either way to achieve level from that axis. Then all you have to
do is tighten the thumbscrew, and your ready to go.
The camera mounting hole starts at 3/4" from the long side of the base, and 1 5/8" from
the back of the base. The hole itself is 3/4" wide and 2 1/4" long.
The handle is the most crucial part, and all you really have to use is a hinge. It's one of those hybrid
hinges that has a strap coming off of it (for lack of a better description). You could use a piece of
railing post (hardwood), and cut a groove into the top (1 1/2" deep). The strap end of the
hinge was cut down to 1 1/2" also, and rounded off. I also filed this half of the hing on
both sides to make it flat and smooth. The hole in the handle that goes through a hole
(you'll have to drill in the hinge) is exactly 1 1/2" from the top, and use a brass
woodscrew (#12 X 2 1/2") cut down to fit the handle. The pilot hole for this screw will
have to allow for the larger end of the screw to fit snugly, not tight, maybe even a little
loose. The groove in the handle allows the hinge to fit in loosely, when the woodscrew is
screwed in snugly.
Friction at the 2 axis of the hinge need to be minimized as much
as possible. I used some furniture polish for the inside of the groove in the handle, and
that hole where the woodscrew goes through the hings needs to be a little loose. If you want, you can put a dab of teflon grease in that hole, which should give you less friction.
The other part of the hinge has some kind of nylon insert which seems to provide low friction. Look for that kind of hinge.

Most of these materials can be purchased at Home Depot.

The counterweight attached to the bottom is only 2 1/2 pounds, but you can always adjust easily. You can buy a cheap, small barbell and use that, or go off to Home Depot or OSH and get something heavy enough for your needs.

Of course, you could use aluminum tubing or some other light material instead of wood, but then you'd have to have access to special cutting material and hardware to make things work. The wood cost me somewhere around $6. If you just want to try out a design before you commit to it completely, wood's the way to go. By the way, this rig here will support an XL2, so your heavier cameras should work fine.

REMEMBER: Use common sense when building your rigs. If it doesn't look too safe for your camera, don't risk it.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 12:07 PM   #6
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A little about homebuiltstabilizers.com.

They are great resource to use when you get really complex and technical. That is, if you have the know-how and hardware to make their rigs, they are obviously a far better choice than what I'm posting. But they're also a whole lot more expensive.

Go ahead and search through their pages and look at the books they're selling. It's pretty good stuff, but the cheapest, "good" rig they have will run you around $300, plus a hefty time in the building process.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 01:40 PM   #7
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Cand you post some pictures or video with your rig ? I meen some tutorial pictures that explain what you have written . Thanx !
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 01:43 PM   #8
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I'll also add about rig costs...

As a professional Steadicam operator I can see that you have not fully done your research. There are rigs of various levels available for just about any price if you want to buy. And they can be built for similar investments in time or money. Some rigs are vest mounted, and some are handheld as yours appears to be. Workable handheld rigs start out at around 500 (and even less on e-bay).

As for HBS, yes they do go pretty complex on there if you want - but that is part of the cost of a good stabilizer. And no, you can not get a good stabilizer from anywhere for 300, but they can help you with some pretty good tips with any budget.


I have nothing against your rigs and this thread, please by all means do post the designs, I'd like to see them too. Thank you for doing that.

- Mikko

Last edited by Mikko Wilson; April 2nd, 2006 at 03:40 PM.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 01:46 PM   #9
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Hi Vishad,

Yes steadicams are expensive but there is a good reason for that. It is a speciatlity item and to make a good one requires a great deal of R&D and top quality materials. A company has to make money so when they put money into developing a product their price point is reached when they take into account how much it costs to develop,build & market, how much the market is willing to pay and how many they think they will sell.

Maybe you didn't do enough research if you came to the conclusion above.

John.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 02:23 PM   #10
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Steadicams are "expensive" is a very relative and ignorant statement. The majority of people who use "steadicams" use them professionally, and therefore the expense is justified.

For hobbyists then they may appear dear, but you have to remember that there is a massive gulf between a cheap homebuilt rig assembled using "drywall screws" and a precision CNC machined rigs used in professional film and broadcast environments.

As mentioned a lot of R&D goes into these systems. You don’t only pay for the components; you pay for the support.


-Rick.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 03:19 PM   #11
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One major factor in the high price is that Steadicam is a niche market. If it was a mass market, like mobile phones, I'm sure a good rig could be had for under a 1000 pounds. I can't see them catching on like that though :)

As people have mentioned the R&D and setup costs are high and have to be recouped over a relatively low number of units.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 03:30 PM   #12
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OK Boys, no name calling. Let's give the appearance of acting like adults. I've edited the the inappropriate personal insults and if any members have an issues with that please email me.

The cost of a product or service is directly proportional to the perceived value to the end user. Any particular user may find a service or product too expensive. If that is the case the user is free to develop and market his or her own products or services. Best of luck on your new business developing, manufacturing and marketing camera stabilization devices.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 04:52 PM   #13
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Alright, gentlemen, let's pretend to appreciate some civility amongst ourselves. Those of you who assume I haven't done my research are quite misguided. Let's leave at that and not get into nasty name-calling.

I can see why so many of you are touchy about this subject, but there's no reason to be. My whole point is that the market is there only if the prices came down. There are plenty of ameature photographers and videographers who'd love to own their own stabilizer, but can't because of the cost.

So if you're tooting the whole "it's a niche market and the price is warranted" statement, don't. The price is NOT warranted. Of course they should try to make a profit, but not exclude a major group in doing so.

I'm not "selling" plans; I'm not bribing anyone. These plans certainly aren't going to give you that same $60,000 rig, but will do the job for those of us who want to use it every once in a while. And the whole point behind sharing is to improve the plans so we can all have some ameature system.
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 05:38 PM   #14
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Well, actaully....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vishad Dewan
My whole point is that the market is there only if the prices came down. [...]

So if you're tooting the whole "it's a niche market and the price is warranted" statement, don't. The price is NOT warranted. Of course they should try to make a profit, but not exclude a major group in doing so.

Actually you'll find that market drives price, not vice versa.

The last time I spoke to Steadicam about their pricing was 2 days ago, trust me when I say that they are dooing all they can to offer the best product [done] at the best price possible. Everything takes money, especially making the stuff they do. - If you've ever tried one and experienced what it does I'm sure you'll agree it is worth all it takes.

- Mikko
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Old April 2nd, 2006, 06:28 PM   #15
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Okay, well, Mikko was kind enough to point out my stupidity. I apologize for the roughness. Obviously that was my fault.

Anyway, just to clarify, I'm not from Ebay, not selling anything, and am not competing with actual steadycam manufacturers. I was simply tired of trying to find something workable and run into the giant price wall.

So I did some research, got other people's designs and now offer them to everyone. There's nothing illegal about it, nothing suspicious. I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression. In hindsight, Mikko was right. I DID sound like some Ebay doofus.

Again, my apologies.
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