DIY Gimbal Stabilizer Support Backpack

Earlier this morning I was talking to a friend about the weight of his DJI Ronin Gimbal, and he asked if I had any suggestions about a support system to carry the weight. He mentioned during his research, one of the more affordable options out there was between $649 - $849 dollars from a company called the Atlas Camera Support.

Atlas Camera Support Dual Rods
find-price-button Atlas Camera Support

It's definitely more affordable than say an EasyRig, but design wise it's not overly complicated to create something with a similar function. In just a few minutes of thinking about how I would go about this, I had a working prototype using an old camera backpack and a couple of fiberglass rods. Here's what I came up with.


Look Ma! No Hands! Cheesycam DIY Gimbal Support BackPack

My DIY Design is very simple. A few conduit pipes are tucked into an old camera backpack and held in place with a block of wood. The Fiberglass rods are simply dropped into the pipes and removed when not in use.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (1 of 4)

Here are some additional details that are important for choosing a support backpack for this project. Choose a backpack with a chest clip and a waist belt. A Waist Belt is a must! You can find both of these features in a good camera backpack or sometimes you will find this with a good hiking backpack. These straps will keep the backpack snug up against your body and allow the rods to bend without pulling the backpack away from you. Here's a couple of backpacks that give you an idea of what to look for.

amazon dslr backpack
find-price-button AmazonBasics DSLR BackPack with Chest Clip and Waist Support Belt

The Fiberglass rods I chose are just common Tent Poles, nothing special. Tent poles are designed to flex and they are also offered in various thicknesses. The 'thicker' the tent pole, the more weight it will support, but the harder it will be to bend. You definitely want some 'bend' with your pole to absorb any bounce. I picked up a 4 Tent poles for $10 dollars at a sporting goods store. I only used two. I know what you're thinking - what if they snap? Keep Reading..

FiberGlass Tent Poles
find-price-button Fiberglass Tent Poles - Amazon

These Fiberglass rods have a very thick wall to them, but are also hollow. So to add a fail safe, i'm using 100lb rated Metal Braided Wire Cables running through the poles. If for some god forsaken reason one of these rods should break (which is very very difficult to do), the cable will keep things from coming apart. I've looped the cable at the end and ran it back through the rod, essentially doubling up the cable inside.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (2 of 4)

Heavy Duty Ultra Redundant Setup
As i've mentioned, if you want to carry a heavier system, you can look for the larger fiberglass rods. Another idea to carry extra weight, and to add additional redundancy is to double up these smaller rods on each side - essentially having 4 rods total. With two fiberglass rods on each side with cables running through, it would manage heavier systems, still remain flexible, and would add incredible fail-safe redundancy.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (4 of 4)

I left about 6 inches of loop hanging at the end for me to attach an adjustable strap to the gimbal. This 'middle strap' is so you can adjust the height position of your gimbal. If you want the gimbal higher, shorten the strap. If you want the gimbal to sit lower, lengthen the straps.

adjustable straps gimbal fiberglass rods

This was just a quick 15 minute prototype I whipped up, and now i'm going to clean things up a bit more with a second version. The next version I'll try to find a slimmer backpack, and I will have the pipes tucked all the way into the backpack (totally unseen). I'm also going to make a new design for the adjustable strap.

So if you can't DIY this project, go out and find someone to DIY it for you! Of course, there's always the option of purchasing the Atlas Camera Support, but I do think a backpack makes for a better fashion statement. It's also comforting to know that my design has a "Fail-Safe looped 100lb Wire Cable" run through the rods adding both strength and redundancy. As always, thanks for checking out this project and hopefully it will help you on your projects while saving you a few bucks. If you have any questions leave a comment.

 75 Comments





75 thoughts on “DIY Gimbal Stabilizer Support Backpack

  1. Andy

    Is that the Ronin M? Looking to do something similar with the standard Ronin. Need to work out the weight differences

  2. Ben Watson

    Greetings! I am about to begin building one of these, and we are lugging a full size ronin with an URSA mini on it. It's heaviola. Anyway, Could you tell me what rods you used in this install? I am likely going to double up the rods, but I like the thickness of these. I can't really tell from Amazon which ones you are using...

  3. Patty

    Dear MrCheesyCam,
    Thank you so much for this terrific video and for taking the time to share your clever DIY invention. If you have time, could you provide an itemized list of the materials you used? I know you mention them in the video - and I jotted them down - but, for example, I'm not familiar with the type adjustable straps you mentioned. Even if you mention the retailer, that would be so helpful. Also, could you touch on how you mounted the rods to the block of wood? I'd like to make one of your support systems for my husband. Thank you so much for being so generous in sharing your invention online. I really appreciate it!
    Thank you.
    Patty in N.J.

  4. WOW I was just about to pay for the Atlas but thought someone has to have a good DIY out there and yep it was you!!!

    This will same me some money.
    Thanks for the information!

  5. Chavella

    What would you charge to make me one of these? I need it before the 2nd of April... Two one four 690064 six

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Gordon - I don't know how much weight you're trying to throw on there, but instead of getting larger tent poles, you can use the same size you have now, just double them up on each side. This will carry more weight and still remain flexible.

  7. Gordon

    What size tent poles did you wind up using. I built something similar with my old army ruck sack frame and used 3/8th" poles. It worked fine until I tried to let the whole weight of the Ronin hand, then the poles snapped.

  8. Oscar

    Thank you so much for this. I'm a few weeks away from buying a Ronin M and this project gives me a much better option for long shoots. Thanks for sharing your experiment and inspiring so many πŸ™‚

  9. Thanks Emm. I'm going to be doubling up on the rods on each side since my rig is going to be extremely heavy. I will be flying an Epic Dragon on a Letus Helix loaded down with a follow focus, Cooke S4i lenses and a Parallix. This is gonna put this rig to the test and I'm looking forward to it. It's a great design. I'll let you know how it goes.

  10. Emm

    Post author

    @Derek - Yes you connect two poles together, and then cut at the bottom where necessary.

  11. Ok. How long are your tent poles? I went and bought some at a sports store called Big 5. They were $10 for four but they seem shorter than yours. You don't have two connected together with a joint do you? And how far do they slide down into the conduit pipes on your back?

    And BTW, I am so happy you posted this. This DIY thread is a lifesaver! Such a good idea! Thank you for continuing to be responsive even though this post is 8 months old.

  12. Emm

    Post author

    @Derek - At the end of the steel cables I 'swaged' them so they don't pull through.

  13. Concerning the steel cables, what are they attached to at the other end? How do they not come sliding out of the pipes? Did you put something on them to prevent this? Or are they just attached to the end of the pipes?

  14. Emm

    Post author

    @ActorNasirRahim - Yes I cut a small slit into the backpack and the pipe slides through. Don't need to cut a huge hole, just a small slit.

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Joey - The GH4 can do true 24p (not 23.98) so you need a monitor that can display that. The MustHD monitors can, the Aputure VS-3 can, and also the F&V monitors, and obviously the SmallHD stuff. It boils down to features that you might need like HDMI pass through, waveforms and scopes, audio monitoring? etc.

  16. Jim

    @Scott,

    If you're asking how the D-Rings are connected to the hose it's just a 1/2 wide hose clamp, And I wrapped a little gaffer tape over it to keep the the sharp extruding part of the clamp from cutting someone.

    Also you need to use a little dish soap on the rods to help them slide into the hose.

  17. Jim

    @Ethan I'm one who uses the KISS principle
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle
    I also wanted to make this as cheaply as possible and use parts easily available locally or on the internet.

    I hope this helps, since this is a "Low cost" DYI project!

  18. Ethan

    @Emm how is the rig treating you? Make any adjustments/upgrades? I'm piecing mine together right now, but instead of a backpack using a sentry plate tactical vest. Thanks!

  19. Jim

    Well as promised I have finally made a crappy video of my DIY camera support backpack, I'm super busy and barely had time to shoot and edit this, so excuse the quality, but it should be easy to follow.

    The total cost was approximately $90 including $12 for stitching the lashing straps, and $40 for 2 of the Magic latches @$20 ea, If you don't need or want the Magic Latches, then then total would be about $60.

    I have some test footage using the support rig shot on the BMCC and the rig works amazing, just no time to edit, color and upload ATM, maybe next week.

    I would like to thank Emm for the concept, and my friend for modeling the camera support, he looks a little nervous handling the gear but he did a good job πŸ™‚

    I will be modifying this rig soon because while making it,
    and researching parts I found some interesting things
    that would make it better without spending much more money.

    If you have any questions please post them here,
    as I will not be monitoring the vimeo comments.

    Thanks again Emm

    https://vimeo.com/118637992

  20. Jim

    After watching Darren Miles review here I lol'ed hard πŸ™‚
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFVsbkVN1gE
    and
    Dave Dugdale (that made no sense other than
    a sales pitch for the Atlas :P)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtADUcDr5LU

    I'm usually not this cynical with review videos
    but these two made me laugh,Dave Dugdale is a great guy, I just hope he is not loosing his way now that he is..Err kinda famous? although I'm not sure for what other than his videos, Kind of odd really.
    Now Emm (@Cheesycam) on the other hand makes a point about "What gear fits your budget" and makes you feel like he understands what works, and what does not, and gives his honest opinion.
    I have decided to make it my mission to help anyone wanting
    a great camera support rig for less than $150, It was built with the DJI Ronin in mind but should work just fine
    with lighter Cameras and Gimbles.

    Stay tuned, I should have a crappy video and a short shopping list for you all soon.

    Cheers

  21. Jim

    I made a bad ass camera support backpack,
    If Emm will allow my pics and Video I'll post it,
    along with my shopping list of parts.

    Thanks Emm for the concept!

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @Southerndude - I don't think you need any springs. For the PVC the poles can drop in loose because once there's weight on it, it will be snug. I don't know about using 'elbows'. I have my poles drop right in and allow them to bend over.

    Here's a link to the carbon fiber sticker with textured feel: http://www.amazon.com/beyond-Latest-Carbon-Stickers-Texture/dp/B00DKFQGXW/

    For straps, look for 'tie down' or 'lashing straps'. There are many different types, this is an example of one: http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-85207-Lashing-Strap-Pack/dp/B0000DGAMO/

    Here's another one: http://www.amazon.com/Master-Lock-3060DAT-12-Foot---1-inch/dp/B0009V1WXY/

    As far as the cables go, I 'swaged' my cables and added a few at the end to prevent them from pulling out. I added one swage at the front loop to keep the loop in place.

    Also this guy managed to put one together too: http://instagram.com/p/xsO5ogMelm/

    A photo posted by Jeremy Dulac (@jer_is_me) on

  23. Emm: Sorry I have one more question: I see and have the hardware to hook the Nylon straps to the top of the poles, but what did you use or recommend to keep the cable fixed to the end of the tent poles inside your pipes?

  24. Emm: Seems a lot of us are clamoring for some more detailed input. Any How I have started my rig very much based on yours. I got a similar Bac-Pac,$20.00, a set of 4 tent poles, $9.00 and all the cable, carabiners, and attachments at Home Depot for about $25.00.

    I have a few questions if you could help, I'm making some modifications to your design, Instead of Pipe, I'm creating a PVC Frame to fit tight inside the Pack, and to insert the tent poles in. Using 90 degree elbows, Question: Do you think the poles can be a little loose inside the PVC poles, or a firmer fit?

    Also, I'm using SS cable like yours, except I got the cable with the vinyl covering. Question:I'm having a hard time finding nylon adjustable straps buckles and Nylon Loops, any ideas or links?

    Question: While I was in HD shopping, I noticed a section that had a lot of choices of SS springs of different lengths and tension's, what are your thoughts on possibly using them at the top of the Tent poles?

    Question: Also, where can I find the carbon faux wrap, I want to put that on the PVC Poles?

    Quit flying so much and get your new Gimbal Support build done and posted!! LOL! Thanks!

  25. Richard

    I'd really like to see something more in depth, I'd love to make something along these lines.

    Do you know what diameter the cable is?

    Thanks for this!

  26. Emm

    Post author

    @Jim - Well I have to say mine ain't pretty but sure is functional. I was bouncing around hands-free on my setup and then later realized it was probably $8K worth of gear on a DIY prototype. Guess I really must trust myself! So what I have made so far I felt really comfortable with, whipped it up same day, but i'm sure you can make it better if you take the time.

  27. Emm

    Post author

    @Jim - Well the idea is there, and i'm sure anyone can make it better than me! No need to wait for me, i'd love to see how others come up with something too.

  28. Jim

    @Emm I was about to purchase the one you have linked in this post, would you suggest I wait until you find one for the next build?

    Thanks Emm

  29. Joe

    How would you attach the elastic bands to the rig? Also what do you use to connect the straps to the gimbal?

    Many thanks for awesome diy. I'd rather spend the money on other gear than the astlas system.

  30. Aberracus

    Hey Emm,

    Nice work!! Did you use PVC pipe or Alu Pipes? And how long do you recommend it?
    Thanks in advance.

  31. sonu

    I was gonna buy the Atlas and then i saw this so saved me a lot of money Yes Definitely would love a DIY How to Video On this.Please make a Video and let us know how to build it .

  32. Nang

    Emm,

    Any updates on your latest DIY "atlas support" build? I would love a how to video on this setup. Yours look amazing and a cheaper alternative to Atlas.

    Thanks!

  33. Steve

    Emm,

    Bravo on the DIY!

    I was curious what your experience indoors is like? Walking through doorways and such? Also, the poles seem to extend pretty high up so I'm wondering how much "give" the poles can withstand in the event you have to pull down hard?

  34. Emm

    Post author

    @Stephen - Yeah doubling them up is a good idea. I was just looking back at this DIY and realized I was going hands free with over $8K worth of gear. haha. I guess I trusted my design enough, otherwise it may have ended badly..

  35. Stephen

    Thank you Emm,

    5/16" should be fine for my gear then. Plus being the smallest diameter commonly available I could double them up for a 5/8" rod effect.

  36. Emm

    Post author

    @Kicap - I think they are talking about the single pole, not the double setup. If you want to move the camara left and right, you turn your body left and right, so the poles never come close to your head. I still have plans to modify my adjustment strap, and when I do I should be able to show how much more flexible the system can be.

  37. Hi Emm,

    What about the flexibility of moving left and right with those poles. Does the poles bother your head?

    I was asking and reviewing this with the rest of the gimbaluser.com subscribers and also bmcuser.com subscribers. Here is one of the link on the discussion:
    http://www.gimbaluser.com/showthread.php?67-RONIN-on-EasyRig-or-AtlasCameraSupport-or-FlycamFlowline

    They have different opinion between this unit and EasyRig and now we have CheesyCam Backpack Rig. But the most important question would be the easiness of moving with those poles handing near your neck and head.

    Maybe a video showing the flexibility of the rig would be helpful??

    Thanks alot Emm in advance.

  38. Alain

    If I can put my 2 cents worth !

    I like the suggestion to use a combat vest. In the multiple pockets made to store ammunition, I can put extra batteries, memory cards and stuff.

    For the wires, I think I will either dip them in Plastidip or simply pur some black or clear heat shrink on them. Il will protect the wires and also prevent skin or equipment abrasion.

    Here are the links:

    http://www.globalindustrial.ca/p/storage/bins-totes-containers/cases-storage-tool/loaded-gear-vx-200-tactical-vest-right-handed-use-22l-x-38-50w-x-h?infoParam.campaignId=T9F&gclid=CjwKEAjwwo2iBRCurdSQy9y8xWcSJABrrLiS9oOEFy5NLysu_HPOFEyrnksT81-WKTPYB92HtxiLzRoChVnw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

  39. osiris Majestic

    The worst part of this is he said he might put this up IF we're interested..... Methinks everyone who clicks on cheesy cam is interested in the
    tutorial.

  40. Emm

    Post author

    @Mikeo - If you let it go it will bounce, but if you hold the gimbal and hold tension it does not bounce.

  41. Mikeo

    Can you please make a DIY video, I can only take instructions visually πŸ™‚
    Your are truly the bestest ... I just can't afford $800 for 2 half fishing rods

  42. Mikeo

    Emm's Your The Best ... Can you please post some footage with it.
    One question, does it bob up & down when your walking fast with it.
    Many thanks for your insights... Sydney Australia

  43. Emm

    Post author

    @Scott - My setup uses one rod on each side. I forget the length, but it depends how deep into the pipe you want to go. My rods do not go all the way into the backpack, just mainly at the top. Inside the bag I hammered the pipe flat and bolted it to the board.

  44. Scott

    Thanks for all of this! What is the length on the tent poles? Using one? or 2 connected?

    Very well done!

  45. Stephen

    I am certainly looking forward to seeing your second build of this support. Bye the way, I have learned a good bit from your various reviews.

  46. Emm

    Post author

    @OldCorpse - Ha, I guess so, but there will always be a huge audience that won't bother trying to make one themselves. Even though you can just use an ordinary backpack, I have quite a few Steadicam-like vests here I was thinking of repurposing just for the look. Instead of painting the pipes, I have some of that cool fake Carbon Fiber Vinyl sticker stuff. Definitely ways you can dress it up and make it look like a thousand bucks..

  47. OldCorpse

    Oh man, Emm, you're baaad! This is genius! You know how there are all those ads that sell you dodgy supplements with "one weird trick" and "doctors hate this", OK, you should have put in somewhere "Atlas HATES this!". But seriously, this is much needed, considering how heavy some of these gimbals can get, especially if you are flying slightly heavier cameras. Meanwhile, hard to justify $800 when the whole Ronin costs $3K. So your solution is just fantastic! I'm sure there are some people who really hate you now, but the rest of us appreciate this πŸ™‚

  48. Emm

    Post author

    @Valentin - You can use anything as long as you have support in the right places. But I think it's better to keep both rods separate and not one piece, as it allows you to move more freely instead of purely up and down.

  49. Valentin

    Instead of a backpack, Why not use a combat vest or a flotation jacket. May need some sewing to keep the rods in place, still cheaper than $649!
    You may also want to add a link between both rods behind your head for rigidity and add some extra padding to avoid the wire cutting your neck in the event one of the rods breaks.

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