DIY Equipment

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Here's a quick image of three different video monopods with a fluid base. Only one is actually sold through retail stores, while the smaller two are monopods i've modified with an aftermarket fluid base folding tripod foot (found here) Cheesycam-Monopod-Tripod-Foot-Base1.

DIY Modified Cheesycam Video Monopods Fluid Foot Base Tripod Monopod Feet

The largest is the Manfrotto 561BHDV Video Monopod (now replaced with new MVM500A). The middle option is a 4 section Manfrotto MM294A4 Aluminum monopod which offers a nice combination of light weight and stability. The smallest is my 5 section carbon fiber Rokinon monopod when I want to go extra light. If you're looking to add stability to one of your favorite monopods with one of these tripod foots, it will only run you about $20 dollars and a bit of ingenuity.

Guaranteed this aftermarket monopod fluid base tripod foot won't fit perfectly with whatever monopod your trying to add this to, but i've added epoxy putty (found here) to make it work. It's basically putty that you'll stuff into the foot, shove your monopod in, and the putty hardens like steel. Just make sure your monopod stays straight as it dries, you won't get a second chance.

So if you've watched the video included in this article, there are two versions of this Fluid Base Monopod Tripod Foot. One is just a simple ball socket fluid base, the other (for $2 dollars more) offers a lock that will hold the monopod in a vertical position. For the non-locking version you can find it via eBay (here)

Cheesycam Monopod Tripod Foot BaseDIY Video Monopod Feet Tripod Manfrotto styleVideo Monopod Fluid Tripod Foot Fluid Base Tripod
find-price-button Fluid Base Tripod Monopod Foot - No Solid Lock

For the version that includes the locking screw, you can also find that via eBay (here).

cheesycam diy video monopod fluid base monopod tripod foot with lock
find-price-button Fluid Base Tripod Monopod Foot - No Solid Lock

54 Comments

A short while back I shared a simple way of wiring up a motorized slider to move back and forth continuously (original article found here). No fancy software or programming, just a basic electro-mechanical system. There are many benefits to having this 'auto-looping' feature. One benefit is that a 'B' camera can continuously slide back and forth without the need for an additional operator, and another benefit is for TimeLapse projects that can continue to capture footage without stopping at the end of a rail.

Throw a few of these around an event and you'll have some great Dynamic Camera Movement footage to cut to without hiring additional crew.

I decided to update the project because some people couldn't quite figure out the circuit. With these new instructions using a numbered socket block, anyone should be able to follow this build, even without understanding the circuit. Hopefully this clears things up for some of you out there, and for those who may have been initially intimidated by the wiring.

Looping-circuit-auto-reverse-polarity_01 copy
Color coded wiring diagram - Click for larger view

I would set this up in a test scenario (loose parts on a table), and once you have it figured out, you can start attaching things to your actual motorized slider. Remember that this is all based on a very specific DPDT Relay + Socket Base Kit (found here).

Step by step Check List for you to follow on building an 'Auto Reverse Polarity Circuit'.
#1 Wire connects to 'NC' on Switch A
#2 Wire connects to one side of the Motor
#2 Wire (also) LOOPS back to Terminal #3
#3 Wire LOOPS back to Terminal #2
#4 Wire LOOPS back to Terminal #7
#5 Wire connects to 'NC' of Switch B
#5 Wire (also) connects to NEGATIVE on Battery
#6 Wire connects to POSITIVE on Battery
#6 Wire (also) connects to 'NO' on Switch A
#7 Wire LOOPS back to Terminal #4
#7 Wire connects to 'C' on Switch A
#7 Wire connects to one side of the Motor
#8 Wire connects to 'C' on Switch B

Troubleshooting
Remember to start this build by having parts loose on a table. You should know exactly what side your switches should be (left/right) so that the Slider is bouncing back and forth properly. If it's still not working correctly, try swapping the wires on your motor. If you have it swapped it will turn in the opposite direction. This circuit is designed specifically for the motor to turn a certain way.

Hopefully this has been helpful for those struggling with this project...

How It Works:
Two 3 Pin NO+NC Momentary Micro Switches (as found here) at each end reverse the polarity of the motor each time they are triggered.

DIY Slider micro switch 3 pin NO NC
Example of 3 pin NC/NO Momentary Micro Switch

A 12V DPDT Relay (as found here) is either 'Always ON' until the slider reaches the opposite switch which drops power to the relay.

12V DPDT Relay DIY Slider Motion Control
12V DPDT Relay with Socket Base

In one direction, the relay is technically 'STUCK ON' by way of a tricky little feedback loop in the circuit. To turn the entire slider on or off, i'm just using the switch from the battery. In this example, i'm not using a speed controller, but one can easily be added.

Additional Parts Suggested for this Build.

5.5 2.5 DC Male Plug Tip
DC Tip 2.5 5.5
12V-CCTV-Battery
12V Super battery

11 Comments

Earlier I tested the CAME 5000 stabilizer with a Panasonic GH3 (found here). These new stabilizers work best when your camera is perfectly balanced. There was no instruction manual on how to properly balance a camera on this stabilizer, but I think i've figured it out.

So here's a very quick follow up video on how to balance a camera on a 3 Axis Brushless Motorized Gimbal Stabilizer. I'm just using a DIY Frame with a bunch of 15mm Rails, clamps, and friction arms to hold up the Gimbal. However you manage to hold up your stabilizer, try to keep it as level as possible before starting your balancing steps.

Now that I think my camera is balanced much better, i'll have to take her out for a spin again. In case you're just dropping in on this article, you can see my first test run (with an imbalanced camera) at the following article: First Impression – CAME 5000 3-Axis Brushless Motor Gimbal Video Stabilizer

[Tip] This tutorial is not limited to these motorized gimbals for video. If you're a photographer working with a large lens, the procedures found in the video can also be used to balance Photography Specific Camera Gimbals (found here via eBay).

Photo Lens GimbalCamera Gimbal

39 Comments

Dynamic camera movements can really increase the value of your production, but also requires more man power (and budget). The ideas within this article are based on setting up a second camera on a Video Slider without having a second Camera Operator (completely unattended). This 'B' camera angle offers dynamic movements so that you can cut away to the footage when needed. This is an excellent idea and a few companies are already on the ball with new products (coming soon).

First up is the Kessler Parallax system that offers a mechanical Parallax panning motion to your video head as it tracks left and right. Neat trick, but to get this fully automated you'll have to tie in to the Kessler Oracle system, which not only adds additional cost in the end, but extra equipment to assemble during production. More info at http://www.kessleru.com/2013/09/update-kessler-parallax/

Next we have the RedRock Micro One Man Crew. This motorized slider offers a curved (Parabolic) track to keep your subject in focus as it moves left to right (and back again). Completely silent with options to set a limit on range, and control speeds. The best part is that it is an all in one solution that's quick to set up and quick to store away. Starting at $1500 dollars (seen here), it carries a decent price tag, but it will save you from hiring an extra person to man a sliding camera. After finishing this article, you may come to realize the price to be very reasonable. More info at http://store.redrockmicro.com/OneManCrew

965223IMG_311618IMG_311619
find-price-button Buy- RedRock Micro One Man Crew Motorized Parabolic Slider

Now i've been asked several times if this was something that could be built at home (a.k.a DIY). Here i'm going to introduce a very basic concept on how i've managed to accomplish the same 'ping-pong' / 'back-forth' effect on a cheap DIY motorized slider kit (seen here) with an additional $10 dollars worth of switches, wiring, and a relay, and absolutely no programming. It's basically a simple and dumb electro-mechanical system.

Unmanned, unattended, looping, automated, it all sounds pretty good. Yet you can see how this basic system fails to provide many of the 'Smart' features of the more expensive products coming to market. On the flip-side, one advantage is that with this basic circuit one can expand this idea outside of just a typical slider. (Yes i'm already working on those ideas).

DIY-Motorized-Slider-Cheesycam-Ping-Pong-Back-Forth-Automated
First Test - Building the Circuit Automated Looping Motorized Slider

Here's a schematic of my layout. You'll notice how each side of the motor has both negative and positive from the battery, but only one set is active from the DPDT.
Cheesycam-Schematic-Ping-Pong-Motorized-Slider
Click for Larger Version

How It Works:
Two 3 Pin NO+NC Momentary Micro Switches (as found here) at each end reverse the polarity of the motor each time they are triggered.

DIY Slider micro switch 3 pin NO NC
Example of 3 pin NC/NO Momentary Micro Switch

A 12V DPDT Relay (as found here) is either 'Always ON' until the slider reaches the opposite switch which drops power to the relay.

12V DPDT Relay DIY Slider Motion Control
Example of 12V DPDT Relay with Socket Base

In one direction, the relay is technically 'STUCK ON' by way of a tricky little feedback loop in the circuit. To turn the entire slider on or off, i'm just using the switch from the battery. In this example, i'm not using a speed controller, but one can easily be added.

[Update] If you have trouble following the schematic, I have another article with an easier way to create this setup. Others have successfully got their own sliders working. Check out the other article (found here).

31 Comments

Getting started with V-Mount batteries is not a cheap investment. Even the cheapest V-Mount Battery + Charger Kit can easily run you well over $300+ Dollars. If you're looking to power up camera gear with a V-Mount battery, here's a closer look at a more affordable option using this adapter that can accept two common Sony L Series (NP-F) type batteries.

The V-mount adapter runs two 7.4V batteries in series to output between 13V-16V, and also has a d-tap connector if you plan to run a cable to power up optional accessories. The v-mount battery plate can be found via ebay (seen here).

Sony L Series V Mount Battery LED Light AdapterV-Mount Sony Battery NP-F L Series Cheesycam
Examples V-Mount Battery Adapter Sony L Series NPF LED Light K4000
find-price-button V-Mount Battery Adapter for Sony L Series NP-F Batteries

In order to use these adapters properly and to get the best results, you should be using two exact batteries. Although you can find many aftermarket Sony L Series batteries for cheap, they will often come in different sizes, capacities, and ratings. I suggest buying them in pairs and labeling them together. Check out some of the Sony L Series Batteries via Amazon (found here).

l series sony v-mount battery adapterSony Rig Battery Adapter V-Lock Vmountv-mount vlock sony npf l series adapter
find-price-button Sony L Series NP-F550, NP-F750, NP-F960, NP-F570, NP-F770, NP-F970

22 Comments

From what i'm hearing there are many people out there using this portable video slider. In this video, i'm sharing a little tip on how i've personalized the Cinevate Duzi Carbon Video Slider by adding rubber o-rings.

The Cinevate Duzi slider is near silent as it cruises along the carbon rails, but as it reaches the end, the wheels touch the end blocks. By adding simple rubber o-rings, i'm able to get it right to the ends without making a sound. The o-rings also allow me to send end points along the slider if I need to ensure I stop at a certain point to get an object in sharp focus. Random yes, but hopefully it's helpful to the many Duzi slider owners out there.

Cinevate Duzi Cheesycam Review
find-price-button Cinevate Duzi Portable Video Camera Slider

36 Comments

As amazing as this little camera is, it's annoying that the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera requires extra juice just to make it run for more than 40 minutes. I tried the Switronix Pocketbase (seen here) which works, but I personally grew tired of the form factor, and how it blocks access to the SD Card (battery door) so I decided to DIY my own adapter.

The BMPC DC input uses a 12V power source, so i've decided to use a 12V battery plate that i've just added the proper 2.5mm OD x 0.7mm ID barrel adapter tip to. It's hardly DIY since all you have to do is cut off the tip and replace it with the proper sized DC Plug.

These battery plates will take a certain battery and step the voltage up to 12V. I've even tested the guts against a Sony 7.4V battery, and it works great, but decided to go back to the original battery plate because of it's slim profile. If you dig hard enough you can find many of these battery plates online dedicated for common Canon LP-E6, or Sony L Series / NP-F Type batteries.

You can see how handy it is to have a cage for mounting accessories on the BMPCC. I could either keep the battery off to the side, or relocate it to the rails with a clamp. There are many great cages on the market, but in the video i'm using the Shape Cage for the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

Shape Cage BlackMagic Pocket Camera Shape Cage BMPC Shape Cage BlackMagic Pocket Camera Rig
find-price-button Shape Cage for BlackMagic Pocket Camera + Top Handle + 15mm Rail Base

If you stuck with the Canon BP battery plate + Canon BP battery + DC Plug, I would say this entire DIY project will run $50 dollars or less and take you less than 5 minutes (yes that total cost even includes the battery). It's much cheaper than other off the shelf products in retail stores right now to power the BMPCC, and I find it to be a clean and simple solution.

Here's the 12V step up Battery Plate i'm using which takes the Canon BP batteries typically used in the older GL2 camcorders. Eventually i'll track down a cheap Canon LP-E6 battery plate or Sony L Series plate and use these guts to step it up to 12V. Here's my current parts list below if you want to tackle this for yourself.

Canon Battery BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera
find-price-button 7V step up 12V Battery Plate for Canon BP Battery12V BP Plate

Canon GL2 BP battery for BMPC BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera
find-price-button Canon BP Series Batteries for GL2

If you're looking to DIY your own power cable for the Pocket Cinema Camera, the specs for the power plug from BlackMagic Design are 2.5mm OD x 0.7mm ID which you can find on eBay. To keep things small (unlike my current adapter), I suggest going for the right angle tips (found here).

DIY blackmagic 12V power battery 2.5mm 0.7mm right angle dc male plug cheesycam
find-price-button 2.5mm OD X 0.7mm ID Male DC Plug

23 Comments

If you love building and tinkering, here's a look at another fun little project idea from ServoCity.com. They've added a new low friction channel slider that has very low tolerance, can accept a decent load, and that slides over their lightweight aluminum channels. In this video they have assembled a drive system that pulls the carrier through the channel, to work as a video slider.

These aluminum channels can be purchased in various lengths if you're looking for longer or shorter runs, and the motors can be swapped out for faster or slower RPMs depending on your project. The overall design allows these motors to pull quite a bit of weight even vertically, but if you're looking to carry heavier camera systems, just make sure to look into the channel slider that wraps around all four sides (here).

Slider_Kit_with_Phone_MountSlider_vertical_with_phone_mount

Now if you're looking to do some tinkering of your own, I highly suggest taking a look at the dozens of videos showing you step-by-step on how to build these projects at the Servo City YouTube Channel.

For more information about the Slider Kit A, take a look at their Channel Slider Kit product pages which shows examples and a list of parts required to assemble.

ServoCity YouTube Channel
ServoCity.com Precision Building Systems

20 Comments

Joe asks 'What cheap case can be used for small equipment?". If we're not talking about fragile equipment, I know a few people using these Plano 4 Pistol Foam Lined Cases. These aren't your waterproof air tight 'Pelican-Like' cases, but they still offer a fair amount of protection. With an internal dimension of 16" x 10" x 6", these pistol cases are large enough to hold monitors, portable audio recorders, microphone systems, battery chargers, and more.

Typically these run between $25-35 dollars, but it's currently on sale today for under $12 dollars. Jump over to the page and you'll find other customers sharing images on how they use it with their camera gear (found here).

Plano 4 pistol case foam lined camera caseplano microphone case foam pistol 4 2
find-price-button Plano 16" W X 10" H X 6" Deep Molded Case with Foam Liner

For smaller equipment that I feel can take a few bumps, clear Organizing Tackle Boxes work great. The clear boxes take the guess work out of finding gear, all without having to open the box. You can organize and label areas such as 'new' or 'used' for batteries.


Example of how I use these cases

The trick is finding a good set, and the ones I use are also from Plano. Not just durable, but 3" deep to hold fairly thick camera accessories such as LP-E6 Batteries. Overall storage dimensions are 10.5" W X 7"H X 3" Deep, and these run under $7 dollars (found here).

Plano Organizing BoxPlano Stowaway
find-price-button Plano 10.5" W X 7"H X 3" Deep Storage Box w Dividers