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Under Water, Over Land
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Old March 11th, 2007, 12:33 PM   #16
Major Player
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 938
Steve I've made up my mind that I will NEVER make my own shoulder-rig until I have tried and tested a basic model and discovered from trial and error how it might be improved.

With that fact accepted, I'd love to study a photo of you actually wearing your basic rig and tilting and panning your cam above or below horizontal ... plus any comments about how the basic rig helps you to keep steady when performing these actions ... whenever you have time, I'd be very grateful.

I'm sure your saying that if you put a half-hour demo video together standing on your head and posted it here BM would still have questions for you ... it's all part of the price of success ... I'll certainly be asking you to recommend a basic rig ...
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Old March 11th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #17
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Saskatchewan
Posts: 3,004

Go to this thread, drop down to graham Benard on Nov 21st he has a cute little video of his rig setting on a spider brace, it is also an amusing production. It is on the gl2 list.

I like the looks of it, much steadier looking than my varizoom support.
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old March 12th, 2007, 11:38 PM   #18
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 905
Description of Parts & Construction of My Mounts

I use fiberglass for the long and narrow main horizontal plate and the shorter upper plate, of my shoulder-mounts. The front grab-handle is wood and the main vertical stem and swingarm on the left side are aluminum tubes. I double the tubes by inserting a smaller diameter in the larger ones. I curve them on a tube bender or a bicycle rim will do. The swingarm has a flattened upper end, with a bolthole drilled in it, so I insert two more short sections of smaller diameter tubes to span this area. This reinforces it enough to be durable in a flat shape. I slide foam bicycle handgrips onto the front and side handles.

I make a wood prototype to provide the form for the main plate, laying it out on a section of plywood and shaping it to fit. This can be a difficult and lengthy part of the project and it helps if you know just what shape and dimensions you want, before you start any of the work. I use a combination of wood pieces and resin-putty to fill-in the shape. Some rasps and files that are flat and some that are round, as well as a SurForm plane, are good tools to use, and sandpaper of several grades of coarseness. After applying mold-release, I layup 6 layers of glass cloth and polyester fiberglass resin for the plate. A separate molding-form is made for the short upperplate and the angled legs that support it. After a fiberglass copy of it is made, it is bonded onto the main plate with more resin and glass cloth.

Epoxy resin could be used for a stronger structure, but working with it is more difficult and it's quite a bit more expensive. The strength of the polyester resin is fully adequate for this purpose. Another problem is that although you can repair a hardened and cured polyester structure with epoxy, you can't put polyester for repairs onto hardened epoxy, as it is chemically blocked from hardening, itself. Fiberglass resin and catalyst must be handled carefully, as they can burn soft tissues, especially the eyes. I always keep a glass of water handy to dash into my eyes in case of an unexpected splatter. Surgical gloves and protective goggles are a good thing to use.

The main stem-tube has a 3/8-inch bolt coming out of its upper end, held in place with resin putty inside the tube and a set-screw coming in from the side. This fastens up inside the structure with a wad of resin-putty on the underside of the upper plate. The end of the bolt goes into this putty, aligned in exactly the right position. When the putty hardens, the bolt can be forcefully unscrewed and this leaves threads inside the putty for future re-assembly. There are two pairs of doubled locking-nuts on the bolt, one pair on top and another pair underneath the main or bottom plate. Fender washers go into all contact points between the nuts and the fiberglass. The swingarm fits on the bolt just below this and has two locking nuts below it, to apply the right amount of tension, so it will move with a little force to different positions. The upper two pairs of nuts must be tightened against each other firmly, so they won't work loose. The pair below the swingarm must also be very tight against each other, but yet only slightly snug against the swingarm. Small washers go between the swingarm and the nuts. A touch of oil occasionally on these washers may help it turn smoothly. The bolt for most of my rigs is 8 inches long, with 3 inches imbedded down into the stem-tube and 5 inches sticking up. This length can vary according to the height of the upper plate. I leave the head of the bolt attached, down in the tube.

The shoulder and chest pads are made from the stiffest grade of open-cell foam, carved with a large, serrated kitchen knife and finished with coarse, 40-grit sandpaper. You usually need to go to a professional auto-upholstery supply house to get this grade of foam, which is often grey in color.

I have lower, counter-weighted sections of tubing for some of my mounts, that can be removed. I usually take them off for shooting birds and airplanes. I also have a small counterweight of about 12 oz., on the bottom of the main stem, just above where the lower section detaches. On one rig, I can attach an adjustable monopod stem, which is useful for long shots that have unmoving subjects. I put it in a low position and turn the viewfinder up to meet my eye, bracing the mount against my leg and body.

The camera is mounted with a long carriage-bolt, through holes in both the main and upper plates and must be placed just right, to put the camera's viewfinder next to your eye. It is fastened below the main plate with a wingnut and fender washer. There's a spacer-tube around the bolt, between the two plates, so they won't bend in when it's tightened. A small brass tube or a piece of TV antenna will work for this. I attach a safety-cord to the camera, using a thin dog-leash and clip. For the VX2100, the camera bolt is positioned 2.5-inches behind the stem-tube, to fit properly for me. I put Velcro on both the mounting-plate of the rig and on the base of the camera, to keep it from rotating. I have to tighten the bolt too much to keep it straight without this.

Each one of these rigs must be custom-designed to fit the camera and the proportions of the user. For myself, I have the shape of the main plate curve to the left in front of the shoulderpad by about 2.5 inches, to offset the camera in front of my face.

I'll put together some photos of these mounting rigs and their components, to better show how they fit together, in a few more days. I consider all these descriptions and pictures to be just basic suggestions about how other people might put together their own devices. Everyone else will have their own variations, large or small, in their designs. I change mine in some way, quite often.

Last edited by J. Stephen McDonald; March 13th, 2007 at 07:31 AM.
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