Maybe you saw the earlier review of the Barber Tech SteddiePod. I really liked this device. I think its a versatile tool for professionals; however, the $400 price tag may be out of reach for a lot of enthusiasts to seriously consider. That got me thinking about whether I could DIY something comparable for, oh, say, thirty bucks.
I knew I wanted to base it around a monopod, and I knew I could find one of those on the cheap. I didn’t need anything fancy, just something with multiple sections that would extend/retract, and preferably something with a screw in the bottom. As I was going through ideas in my head, I decided on PVC pipe as a solution to build the base section.
When I had a general idea of what I was going to do, I went to Lowes and just started putting pieces together to see what would work. After I confirmed that PVC would be a good idea, I sketched out what I would need and put a shopping list together.
I picked up a $15 Targus TG-MP6710 monopod, which you should be able to find at Wal-mart or just about anywhere that has a photo department, and then took it apart while watching an episode of 24. A pair of standard pliers and needle nose pliers were all I needed to remove the plastic piece from the inside of the monopod. All I needed was the plastic insert, so I discarded the metal spike that was inside it.
After I disassembled the bottom foot of the monopod, I headed back out to Lowes with my sketch and shopping list. I ended up using a mix of 1-inch and 3/4-inch PVC fittings.
(1) 3/4″ T-connector
(1) 3/4″ threading coupling
(2) 1″ T-connectors
(4) 45-degree elbows
(1) 3/4″ pipe in 5-foot length – cut in (4) 9″ sections
(4) 3/4″ end caps
I also picked up a lag bolt, a roll of electrical tape, and some plumbing glue. All this stuff ran me about $15.
In order to fit the T-connector on the bottom of the monopod, I wrapped some electrical tape around the base so the 3/4″ T-connector would fit snugly.
I re-used the plastic insert at the tripod base that previously held the spiked foot. I drilled a starter hole in the bottom of the T-connector, then inserted a lag bolt for the additional security.
I assembled the rest of the PVC base with ordinary plumbing glue. Careful though, that stuff dries quick.
All in all, it took another half hour to assemble PVC base. A couple of trips to Lowes and about an hour of total disassembly/assembly time was all it took to piece this together.
The whole purpose for the base section of my DIY GlidePod is to create sort of ballast setup, which is what makes the aforementioned SteddiePod work so well. I had originally intended to put marbles or a little bit of lead in the end caps of the “feet.” However, I found that to be unnecessary for the lightweight camcorders I was using. Still, I decided not to glue the end caps to the 9″ sections in the event that I want to add some weight later. The end caps fit snug enough that I don’t have to worry about them falling off.
So, how much stabilization and support for your camcorder can $30 get you? Check out the following sample footage to find out.
This video was shot with the Canon HF S21 attached to the GlidePod. These were just the first few ideas that came to mind for its use, which I think is pretty cool for a $30 accessory. I was really pleased with the boom moves, which were made by resting the base on my hips with the monopod complete extended. The Doggie Cam footage was simply flipped in post-production in iMovie.
With a little practice, you can get some pretty cool shots with this thing. You can use cameras of different weights by just extending the monopod sections. Basically, you want to be able to hold the monopod horizontally and it should balance on your hand. You can adjust the monopod sections to aid in balancing, or you can fine tune the balance by adjusting your grip a bit.
I was actually surprised how well this worked for a video stabilizer. Don’t get me wrong though, the $400 SteddiePod is a smoother and more polished device, and it includes a great little fluid head. With my DIY Glidepod, as I call it, the $30 investment obviously doesn’t include a head. I had a ballhead setting around that I stuck on top of the device to help with setting the camera’s angle.
If you are a working pro, doing weddings, events and whatnot, then you probably want to keep that professional image and show up to your gigs with something like the SteddiePod. However, if you are a backyard enthusiast, creating low/no-budget videos with your friends, then you might want to try to save some cash and create a DIY version like this.
Let me know if you’ve got any thoughts or suggestions on how to improve this idea.