Friday, March 9, 2012

Improved Video Steadicam Arm

  In my last post I showed you a video clip of a video camera steadicam that Steve Eggleston has on his blog site "The Frugal Filmmaker". He had created this wonderful video tool for a very affordable $40.  I liked the design up until I saw the PVC arm that he had used in the design.  This was done to reduce cost I am sure but I knew that I could improve on the design and make the entire unit much more finished and professional looking.  So this is what I came up with.




  As you can see from the two photos my steadicam arm runs circles around the PVC arm as far as looks go.  It also is many times stronger and only a little bit heavier than the PVC unit. 




 The new improved steadicam arm is made up of three main layers of 1/4 inch plywood which I designed and cut out using my CNC machine.  Between each part I laid in a single layer of 8 oz. fiberglass cloth and resign.  Once this was left to cure overnight I then trimmed the cloth and sanded all the edges smooth using a drum sander. Then the upper and lower 1/4 plywood doubler parts were added.  Once these had also cured I sanded all the edges to round them off.  Next I wrapped the entire outside of the arm in fiberglass cloth and resin and let it cure again for another day. 
  I then drilled out the 1/4 inch mounting holes that were needed for the balance weights and to attach the arm to the adjustable mounting platform. The arm was then covered in a fiberglass resin micro-balloon mixture to make a resin putty and left to cure for a couple more days.  
  After all this was done I then sanded the arm smooth using 120 grit sand paper and then again using 180 grit sand paper. When I was happy with these first sanding steps I then started  wet sanding the arm using 400 grit sand paper to get a super smooth finish on the arm.
  A couple coats of primer and more sanding later and I was finally ready to lay down two coats of gloss black paint.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I think this arm turned out to be a 10 for sure. 



   I already have my video-cam and arm balanced and now will plan on getting some practice time in to be able to use it properly.  I know this will take a little time but it will be worth it.  
  The project took me longer to build than the original design but was well worth the effort. Especially when I now own a steadicam that is much stronger, just about as light as the original design and still only cost me around $40 or so to build. When it looks as good as it does and improves on the original design it is always worth the effort. It should last me for a many years to come and always put a big smile on my face.

7 comments:

  1. I loved your version of the steadicam! What type of resin did you use?

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    1. I use West System 105 resin and 206 hardener. This type of resin is commonly used in experimental composite built aircraft. This type of resin is pricey but easy to work with. I use it on all of my fiberglass projects. I am sure that any good resin will work just fine as long as you can get a good smooth surface when you are ready to paint your part.

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  2. This looks awesome. Would you be willing to share your measurements for the arm? I want to make one, but I don't have your engineering and design background to build it myself.

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  3. Evan,
    Thanks for the kind words about my latest creation. I will be more than happy to send you an engineering drawing of the arm. It will only take me a little while to create it. Just send me an email with your regular email address to my email address (Davedbq@mchsi.com) and I will send you an attachment of the drawing that you can use. The drawing will have all the dimensions that you will need to create your own arm. Dave

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    1. I love your design.
      Since you already made the drawing for Evan, I was wondering if you could send it to me to. My email: eduardofcbg@gmail.com
      Thank you!

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  4. Hi Dave,
    Your steadycam looks really great!
    Are you agree to share the drawing?
    I don't have lot of place to build one, and your look easy to build, isn't it?
    Best regard
    Jean Yves

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  5. This is the one I use. steadycam It take a little getting used to, but it definitely does make a difference.

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