DIY CheesyCam BodyPod $15

The Above video shows some information about how I modified a cheap Targus Monopod into a very lightweight portable DIY Camera Stabilizer for my 5D Mark II and 7D to shoot video. I used this Targus Monopod which is cheap but works well.This obviously will work for any DSLR and if you want to modify the head into one that flips into Portrait mode, i'm sure it would be a great traveling BodyPod for Photographers too. Remember, this DIY is to 'enhance' practicality of Monopod use while still maintaining full functionality. This is not a 'flying' stabilzer.

Here's the Problem:::
Monopods are great and much lighter to travel with than a Tripod. For some reason though, it sucked having to carry one around because I could never get it to fit into a backpack. I searched and searched and searched for a Monopod that could fold up very short, was lightweight, but could still support my camera when extended. The biggest reason Monopods aren't very compact is because 'When Extended, it should at least be Eye-Level". How compact can you get a Monopod and still get it to be Eye-Level??

My Solution:::
So after a bit of thought and a problem I ran into while shooting video in a Vegas Night Club, I came up with the idea of Cutting a Monopod in half and using a Sling as the support foundation. I used this Targus Monopod which is cheap but works well.Straps have long been a great way of support in Shooting Photos, Videos, or even in Rifles. By removing the foot of the Monopod and adding an Eye Screw from Home Depot it was very simple to mount a quick release luggage strap. I could have stopped there, this was pretty nice already, but since I didn't need a Monopod to extend from the Ground to Eye-Level, why not cut it shorter. All I needed was from the hip to Eye-Level. Modifying the Monopod I had was very simple. I slid the foam grip down and found 3 tiny screws. I removed the screws and the head came right off. I measured the length I wanted and cut the Monopod (basically in half). Reattached the Head on and that was pretty much it!!

I went from a 22" folded Monopod to about 10" inches. Now this item travels in Stealth no matter where I go and for the first time ever, I finally have a Monopod that fits inside a backpack. Can't beat that for 15 bucks......
Here's the exact Monopod I used in this video.

I had a quick release plate from a broken Tripod, but If you happen to find a cheap Monopod that does not come with a quick release plate, you can always buy one that attaches directly to standard Monopods such as the ones below.

Sample footage was uploaded at: http://cheesycam.com/?p=116

 58 Comments





58 thoughts on “DIY CheesyCam BodyPod $15

  1. Steve McDonald

    Em, many thanks for posting this. It took me 6 years to find it, but some things will always continue to be useful. I had a $7.00 monopod branded X.I.T.. I cut off the quick-release head and used urethane glue and a set-screw from the side to install a wood plug, with a 3/8 bolt sticking up from inside it. I've added 3/8-inch adaptors to all my cameras, for the added strength and dependability. Your method of using an adjustable strap is the simplest and most effective idea I've found. I found one that had strong, swiveling snaps. I used a 1.5-inch steel ring around the bolt at the top and a 3.5-inch carabiner to go around the smallest-diameter extension section at the bottom, to attach the snaps. I didn't need to reduce the length of the monopod. Thanks very much. I is amazingly steady and doesn't restrict overhead bird shots.

  2. Zito

    it was bound to happen...you scour the internet night and day and all of a sudden your friends start popping up in videos...lol

    what up emm

  3. Amy Barrett

    Just a tip. Walmart sells the Targus monopod in store for $15. If you go online, walmart has it for $9.99. Choose in store pick-up and get the exact same monopod off the shelf for 33% less. Also, I have a Vivitar monopod which is the EXACT same thing minus the name.

  4. Paolo Querubin

    Em! you are my yoda for everything digital!
    nice DIY.

    thanks and keep in touch.

    Q

  5. jwyanze

    This is actually very effective ... once i had to shoot boxing with a canon 60d. I took my mono pod and used it just like that instead i stuck the foot of the pod into my pocket. it acted the same way and gave me very stable shots.
    i was able to shoot my video while standing against the ropes of the boxing ring. almost got punched down a few times but the small form factor allowed me to shoot in a space of less than 2feet. very small very compact and most of all steady...

  6. Jim

    I bought the Targus monopod at Wal-Mart and cut it as you described. But, rather than mark the legs so I don't extend them too far, I re-installed the white plastic pieces in each leg section that keeps them from falling out. Just slightly down from the top edge of each leg section, (use the white half round piece as a template) drill a 3/8" hole clear through the leg(90 degrees from the grooves in the leg sections). The original retaining holes for these plastic parts are rectangular, but a round hole works fine, the shape of the part keeps it from rotating. You have to remove the pivot pins from the leg lock arms to re-assemble it, but they're just a press fit, so they can be pushed out. I used a small hex wrench as a punch and a small plastic hammer to knock them out. That allows you to re-insert the small black shoes(the ones you were careful not to lose earlier) that bear against the leg into the flip locks after you've re-inserted the shortened legs with the stops back in place. Once you have all the parts back in place, you can squeeze the pivot pins back in to the leg lock arms with a vise. You could also probably do it with slip joint pliers if they're big enough. When it's all reassembled, it works just like original, only shorter...and the shortened leg sections won't fall out.

  7. Alfred

    Like this idea. Great execution as well. C&C: If the item you're taping is black, wear a different color shirt πŸ˜‰ Otherwise, very nice vid!

  8. C Conner

    Love your site, I have learned a lot since I have found it. One suggestion to anyone doing reviews, tutorials or videos. When filming, a contrasting color works so much better than two like colors. Black clothing, black camera, black monopod, black straps, they just blend together. Obviously a whilte shirt would be better, but with white walls maybe a tan or lighter color would make more sense. keep up the great work. Oh and now I am off to build one of these.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Edward C - I don't think I broke anything. I just put a new screw through. It's been a long time since that video, not sure if the monopod has changed in any way. You could always use JB Weld or Epoxy Putty to get something back in there.

  10. Juhani

    Hi guys,

    Just thought to let you know about one monopod that I was able to track down in eBay that to my mind really tries to replicate what you've got here with the main differences that it is shorter and cheaper still. It collapses to 8"/20cm, extends to 24"/61cm, and costs just $8.89 + $3 for shipping. It also seems to have the kind of leg lock system than the Velbon Ultra Stick has and also comes with ball head. However, as I have not yet received it I cannot comment on the quality but from the pictures it seems sturdy enough. And the price is really amazing, don't think you can beat that very easily. Check it out:

    http://shop.ebay.com/bestbuystreets/m.html?_nkw=extender+monopod&_sacat=0&_odkw=&_osacat=0&_trksid=p3911.c0.m270.l1313

    Best,
    J.

  11. Klaus

    I just found thos on Weekly Photo Tips - great! One question, how to you attach the eye screw, do you simply screw it into the foot of the monopod?

    Thanks!

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @Keith Boone - Actually there never was a step by step, just the idea. Every monopod is different. I took mine apart figured out where to cut it on each section and then put it back together. Instead of doing all that check out this one monopod that might be a good start: Velbon 5 Section LightWeight Monopod

  13. Keith Boone

    Love this idea. Question, where did the "Step by Step" how to video go.. It was posted here; and now all that is left is a presentation of the final product.

  14. joel sillveti

    awesome video, awesome site and you're a legend man ! this is what indie filmmaking is about, the red rocks and zacuto are great if a studio is paying the $1000+ for the gear but if not who needs labels, this is the way to go, I was in a bike shop today and couldn't belive all the handles grips and bars I could get for like $20.00 I have no respect for these dslt rig compainies that have emerged to sell us gear for the prototype price, thats the cost they pay for the first model to be mass produced it's a one off setup charge then the subsequent models cost minimal amounts but with zacuto and redrock and all the others the customer foolishly pays that charge again and again although tecnically unit 2 out of the door costs them around $30.00
    Hats off to you for sticking it to the man and showing people that the only real cost is the camera and lens.

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Jip - Sure. This didn't exist when this article was written. I guess it could work the same. Thanks.

  16. bobbyp

    Radio Shack has the monopod. Instead of getting an eye bolt, I just took some parachute cord and made a small loop (bowline knot). I screwed out the rubber foot for space between it and the monopod leg, then tightened the rubber foot to trap the cord tightly so it won't slip off. You could also use a heavy zip tie to do this, zipping it up just enough so it won't slip over the rubber foot, but leaves room to clip the strap.

    Regardless of the method, always have a tight hold on your camera in case something breaks/slips.

    I will probably cut the thing down some, but it actually works well as is. The up side of that is it will still work as a monopod if ever there's the need.

    It definitely needs a ball head, tilt head, or something that allows changing the angle of the camera to the monopod. My use is for a medium sized pro camcorder, and I have to lean back to keep the camera level. That would be a literal pain in the back.

    It would be best to have a fluid ball, but for less than the price of one of those (at least the ones on B&H), I could get the 717AH head (and not use the handle), lock the pan and let the level float to keep the camera level.

    @Emm -- would the 717AH work for this?

    The Cullman unit mentioned above has been discontinued. Wonder what happened with that?

    One thing's for sure, this system will take a lot of weight off on long days of run and gun πŸ™‚

  17. c n

    thanks for posting this. i have been using a different solution for the past few years.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/284628-REG/Cullmann_CU_2702.html/BI/6315/KBID/7048' target="_blank">Cullmann 2702 Chestpod Magic Camera Support

    Cullmann Magic 2702 Chestpod - Chest support

    Cullmann CU2702 Chestpod Magic Camera Support

    the strap on this chestpod is flimsy so i replaced it with a wider and more comfortable optech foam strap. i also replaced the ballhead because i use a bogen manfrotto quick release system. it's more expensive than your solution and it takes a little getting used to, but it works great. i use an elbow bracket on my camera so i don't have to flop the ballhead back and forth.

  18. Emm

    Post author

    The link may have automatically been updated by Amazon. Perhaps the other item is no longer available. I don't use a ball head, I just use a straight QR adapter.

  19. Jason

    I snapped the screw off the top of the monopod. It never really fit right..the thread measured at .208 instead of .25

    Wondering if I should buy a new one or try to drill a new screw head in there that is actually 1/4" 20.

    I got the sima quick release plate too. It worked great but I realized I litttle too late it sucks for panning up, unless you want to break your back.. So I took it back. I notice you updated the ballhead amazon link. There used to be a cheaper one in this article without a builtin quick release plate. Do you have this new one Emm? Thinking about getting it, looks good.

  20. ok still trying to figure out the bottom eye hook thing anybody figure it out yet.. i'm tempted to keep tuggin on it but don't want to break it .. any help would be greatly appreciated

    thanks,
    Jayson

  21. Jason

    Right as I posted, I just pulled with a lot of force and it popped off finally..I decided not to cut it...I was always on the fence about it...I think it's perfect as is...For my style of shooting and being 6'3'..It should be ok..Now the part I that I screwed myself in (no pun intended)..

    Like I said I snapped the original screw off the top of the head. Currently trying to figure out a way to jam, glue, epoxy or whatever, a new screw/thread/whatever in there. I took one from a spare tripod plate, and it fits the quick release connector plate, and the camera itself much better, in fact perfectly. The original thread I snapped had a smaller diamater and wasn't snug..

    Anyway, I've turned a simple DIY project into a hard one..haha but Im having fun and laughing at myself. Btw for $10 this monopod is awesome. I feel dangerous with it in my hand.

  22. Emm

    Post author

    The top should pull out after removing those tiny screws. After you measure and cut the different parts down, you'll need to redrill those screws. Each segment has some retaining clips that are part of the locking mechanism. It's hard to explain but hopefully you'll figure it out.

  23. Jason

    So I'm home..Finally got it..The diameter of the eye-screw I bought b is a little big, dont want to drill it in there potentially fracturing/braking the plastic...Going to get a smaller one tomorrow..

    I already accidentally snapped the thread at the screw at the top tho (the one that screws into camera or quick release plate)..So I have to replace that part..but that's ok because it didnt fit snuggly anyway..

    So leading to my question...How do you get the top of the monopod off? I slid the grip down and undid not 2 but 3 screws..Is the top just supposed to pop off? It feels sealed down..Does the top screw off? Sorry I'm retarded with this stuff..

  24. Emm

    Post author

    Oh hey sorry! Lost that comment, i'm drowing with emails. I just used a standard Velcro strap inside the D-ring. The D-ring I got from Orchard.

  25. Emm

    Post author

    I would measure out how tall you need it to extend before cutting it. You can then figure out how much you can cut from there.

  26. Jason

    I went to Wal-Mart across town and they didn't have it...Conned my roommate into giving me a ride too :(..Turns out though RadioShack sells this very product for $9.99!!! (and of course the radio shack is right next to the walmart I went to, lol)

    Anyway, going back tomorrow to pick one up. I'm also going to stop by home depot and pick up an eye-screw and a d-ring...Sorry to bug again, but can you explain how you did the d ring part? Is that just like a velco strap and a d-ring? I'm limited on transportation atm, so I want to try and get all the right parts tomorrow in one fell swoop.

    Also one last question..I'm 6'3"...Should I not cut it in half, or does that even matter? should I cut it but not as much as you did Emm? Thanks man..

  27. Emm

    Post author

    Would be good for stills if you can put a portrait flipping head on it. Otherwise, it's just good for getting stable video shots.

  28. Jason

    Hey I think I'm going to do this soon...I kinda get how you do the eye screw on the bottom but you didn't mention how you got the D-ring attached? Can you go into a little bit more detail about how you did the d-ring? Also do you recommend this only for stills or video too?

  29. David

    I'm just running across this and would love to know, like the other posters, how to attach the eye hook. Tips?

  30. malonetravels2

    Okay, I give, where does one purchase the eye hook, and how is it then attached?

    Great job, CheesyCam and thanks! We spent three months in our tent in countries of southern Africa last year and rarely used the tripod we carried and it showed. This would help.

  31. Jonathan Thurmond

    typo: "because the tension lever has a small piece that is loose, and you don't want to lose this."

    Figured I'd point this out, before someone else did.

    If you'd like some pics, let me know.

  32. Jonathan Thurmond

    HOW TO CUT MONOPOD: Slide the soft grip down about 2 inches. This will reveal 2 screws holding the top on. Remove both screws and pull the top off. You will then need to fully extend the monopod (this is important). Then use a hack saw or sawzall to cut 6 inches or so from the top, I cut mine right up to the Targus logo. Now collapse the the monopod, and remove the 2 white plastic pieces from the end of the inner tube. You are now able to slide the inner tubes out by themselves. Be careful while doing so, because the tension lever has a small piece that is loose, and you don't wan to loose this. After removing, measure down 7 in and cut all 3 collapsed tubes at once. Make sure this length is short enough to still insert back into the main tube with room to still replace the top cap (which is around 1 in). Sand all cut pieces. Now replace the small tensioner piece and slide the 3 collapsed tubes back in. Replace the top cap and drill new holes about a 1/2 in from the top. You may also want to extend each leg and mark the max length, so you know how far you can extend without them falling out.
    Hope this helps...

  33. This is such a clever idea. I would like to make one for myself for use with my Canon T1i. Is there a more descriptive or detailed write up I can follow?

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  35. Benjamin

    I purchased the exact monopod you recommended, but I can't figure out how to take it apart to cut down. I want it the same length you have it.

    Please provide some sort of instruction on how to cut it down.

    thanks

  36. admin

    Post author

    It really depends on how short you want to collapse the Monopod. I have another video revision though, that shows you a 'wand type' monopod that seems to work just as well for adding additional stability to your shot.

  37. Jakob

    Hey

    Isnt it just a matter of removing entire bottom sections ?

    Anyway i wanted to ask how it works for video. Needless to say its not a steadycam but I am thinking it could be a good improvement over completely handheld video ?

    Best wishes

    Jakob

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  39. Jonathan

    Cheesycam Man - Great post. I went out and got the mono pod and have successfully attached the eye hook. However, I am not following how you cut the monopod down. How did you do that and still have the sections be able to collapse within one another and stay structurally legit?

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