Tag Archives: Baby Merlin

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Nick Bicanic from http://www.purposelabs.com does a better job than I did with his DIY Steadicam Smoothee (a.k.a Baby Merlin) by shaving down the entire platform to get a perfect fit for his quick release adapter [Thanks Nick]. That little bit of effort definitely makes it look much more solid mounting platform than adding a quick release on top of the stock mini quick release plate.

baby_merlin_shaved

Notes:

I drilled two holes by eye to match the threaded holes on an MH621 Giotto I had lying around. Both are 1/4"/20 - note that the front hole on the giotto as stock is not threaded. So for those of you who don't have tap/die kits - you'll have to use another method. (you could mount with the 3/8" and a 1/4" but I didn't want to take off that much material.

Actually i was originally gonna shave it totally flat but then I realised that the way it's built that might not work (e.g. it could no longer be screwed together. You can see on the picture how far I decided to go.

This is clearly a one-way street 😉 - because if you screw it up you gotta buy another one..ha

That said - I got it right by eye first time - the only extra thing is a washer - see the second picture:

http://www.purposelabs.com/baby_merlin_washers.jpg

(one washer sanded down to fit) the reason for the washer is to tighten the bottom bracket of the quick release - otherwise the thin plastic would flex.

End result is awesome. Btw I didn't use washers at the bottom to spread the load because the bolts sit right on top of the plastic crossbeams themselves.

Here's a picture of how it sits together - very tight and solid.
http://www.purposelabs.com/baby_merlin_lookin_pro.jpg

btw not a lot of clearance down there - so I used hex button bolts.

Tools/hardware needed beyond the usual tools for the original mod are pretty much just those two bolts. (dremel + drill does the rest). Only tricky part is threading the baseplate if it isn't already done

baby_merlin_lookin_pro

If you guys aren't familiar with this project, it's basically taking the cheap Steadicam Smoothee (originally for GoPro or iPhone) and modifying it to fly other cameras like a Canon DSLR. The Smoothee provides you with fine tuning knobs to help get you balanced much like the $800 dollar Steadicam Merlin. You can find the details on that DIY Steadicam project here: http://cheesycam.com/diy-steadicam-smoothee-mod-cheesycam-baby-merlin/

gopro-steadicam-smoothee
find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee Stabilizer

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The GH2 or other small video cameras are very lightweight and the selection for a quality stabilizer are few. Lately, there's been some interest around modifying a Steadicam Smoothee to work with such light cameras. I was able to modify one successfully, but I never got around to showing it's full capabilities. So it's great to see other examples out there, and here's one of the best videos i've seen so far about a modified Smoothee (a.k.a Baby Merlin) with a GH2 camera from Vimeo member MKVideoFilms.

If you want to find out how to modify your own, there's an article posted here: http://cheesycam.com/diy-steadicam-smoothee-mod-cheesycam-baby-merlin/

GoPro-Steadicam-Smoothee-DIY-Steadicam
find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee for GoPro and iPhone

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It was only a couple of weeks ago I posted information on how to modify a Steadicam Smoothee, essentially making it a mini Steadicam Merlin stabilizer (a.k.a Baby Merlin). If you have a small camera, and you're a fan of the Merlin steadicam, this mod will come in at about 1/5th the price. In the past few days i've received some comments about successful modifications and am just waiting to see some of those results.

Today I just happened upon Vimeo member dhardjono with a recent video posted showing a modified Steadicam Smoothee and a GH2 camera. I happened upon it, because i've been wanting to get a certain lens for a while, and in this video the Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye (found here) was used on the GH2. Results are pretty impressive already removing harsh vibrations and quick jerking movements, but i'm sure with more practice, the results will be solid. If you want to build your own, I have my article posted here: http://cheesycam.com/diy-steadicam-smoothee-mod-cheesycam-baby-merlin/

The Steadicam Smoothee stabilizer is currently on sale until the end of the month following the link (click here).

GoPro-Steadicam-Smoothee-DIY-Steadicam
find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee for GoPro and iPhone

42 Comments

Made some slight mods to support a heavier camera and lens. Now it's a Canon 7D + Tokina 11-16mm on a Giottos quick release plate. I needed to pull the front heavy camera a bit backwards. Threw on some extra counterweights from a Flycam Nano, and then performed a slight test. Brings me back to my roots of flying an expensive Steadicam Merlin, except this one is only 1/5th the price.

GoPro-Steadicam-Smoothee-DIY-Steadicam
find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee for GoPro and iPhone

91 Comments

Yup, within the first few minutes the Steadicam Smoothee walked through the door it was laying helplessly in pieces on my workbench. As I suspected, it's quite easy to modify this little stabilizer. With a quick release adapter, a top stage that can be fine tuned Left/Right & Forward/Back for easy balance, and one of the smoothest Gimbals on the market, i'm calling this the 'Cheesycam Baby Merlin'. If you haven't seen how smooth the Gimbal is, check out the earlier video (here).

The original Steadicam Merlin will run you about $800 dollars (click here to see), and I know there's a ton of people who want something similar for their GH2 or Sony NEX5n cameras. With this DIY, you can have just about the same features for 1/5th the price! Here's how I went about the mod.

Peel Back the sticker at the  base and you'll find a few small screws. Remove the metal plates inside so you can drill through the base.

Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (1 of 17)IMG_0939

I reassembled the base (without the metal plates) and then drilled through the center (almost center - oops). Using a 3/8" Drill Bit, I was able to stuff a 1/4 x 20 coupler perfectly inside.

Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (4 of 17)Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (6 of 17)

On the underside of the coupler, I added a washer and 1/4x20 screw to keep it from pulling through the top. On top I added my weight bracket. You could use just about anything here, and my counterweight was at 13.6 oz. which is needed to counter balance the 5D Mark II + 50mm F/1.4 (2.6lbs total).

Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (7 of 17)Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (8 of 17)

DIY TIP
If you want to build your own counterbalance that can swing left to right, and allow you to adjust weights up or down, check out this little mock-up using basic off the shelf parts (below). An Eye Bolt will be at the top of your counterweight setup (attached to the base of the Smoothee). A threaded coupler will allow you to attach a long all-thread rod. You can use heavy washers on the rod and a pass-through thumb knob at the bottom. You'll probably need a second thumb knob above the washers to clamp them down. If you need to make it less bottom heavy adjust the weights upwards. If you need to make it more bottom heavy, adjust the weights downwards.

Adjustable-Counterweight-DIY-Baby-Merlin-Stabilizer
Click image for larger view

Or you could also start with one of these slotted metal Dual Camera brackets to build up your swinging counterweight system.
Dual Camera Bracket
find-price-button Dual Metal Camera Bracket

Not really a cost saving idea, but If you really wanted that finished look like mine has, then here's where I cannablized the lower counterweight bracket from.
Opteka Steadicam Stabilizer
find-price-button Opteka Video Camera Stabilizer

For the Quick Release plate, I used a hacksaw to cut straight across and filed it down flat.

Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (11 of 17)Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (12 of 17)

Drilled a hole down the middle of the QR plate, and added a screw underneath. I had to trim a bit underside to get the screw to fit.

Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (13 of 17)Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (15 of 17)

There you go! A modified Steadicam Smoothee made into the Cheesycam Baby Merlin. A nice stabilizer with an adjustable top stage, a Quick release mount, Fine Tuning knobs for quick balance, and adjustable weights underneath with movement to counterbalance uneven weight.

Steadicam-Smoothee-Mod (16 of 17)

Originally modified to use with my Sony HX9V or Canon S100, but sturdy enough to rock my Canon 5D Mark II + 50mm F/1.4 (2.6lbs.) This is a no-brainer awesome Stabilizer for all kinds of smaller cameras like the Micro Four Thirds, or Sony NEX5n / NEX-7 type cameras. Right now these little Smoothee stabilizers are on sale (click here).

GoPro-Steadicam-Smoothee-DIY-Steadicam
find-price-button Steadicam Smoothee for GoPro and iPhone

Steadicam-Merlin
find-price-button Original (more expensive) Steadicam Merlin Camera Stabilizer