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
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.