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After I got our of college, I was the “grown up” among my friends (most of whom were still in school). They were living in small apartments, eating too much pizza, going to the beach a 3 am.  I was married, had a house…  and a workshop.

The fact that I loved to make things worked really well with the fact that a bunch of my art student friends didn’t have access to the tools and space that they wanted to accomplish their art. One of my really good friends (the extremely talented Anthony Dodero) was shooting some film work and wanted a couple of simple jigs to get improve the shots.  One of them involved cantilevering a camera out a car window (crazy, dangerous, etc) but the other was pretty easy to figure out.. a really simple camera counter balance.

Steadicam is a brand name, but the word has become synonymous with a unit to help stabilize hand held camera shots. The real Steadicam units are often MUCH larger and are mounted to a chest harness to help distribute the weight of the rig to your torso.  Since we were looking for something on a college student budget, we went with steel pipe from a big box store.

Check out this really simple build below, and if you’ve got suggestions for add-ons/improvements please leave them in the comments!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • 3 lengths of 3/4″ steel pipe
  • 3/4″ steel pipe T fitting
  • 1/4-20 x 1 ” screw and two 1/4-20 nuts
  • 2 3/4″ steep pipe caps
  • 1 3/4″ steel pipe flange
  • 1″ PVC pipe (about 6″ in length)
  • Duct tape
  • Flat black spray paint

Optional Tools:

I started with some 3/4″ steel pipe, fittings, PVC and some bolts & nuts.

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It’s really simple, I screw the pieces together, except for the top cap.

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I drilled a hole through the top cap, using a clamp to stabilize it.

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I pushed a screw up through it and tightened on a nut. A second nut was added, but not tightened.

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Then the cap was added to the assembly.

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This is essentially finished, but there’s a lot of friction when you hold the pipe directly.

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I cut a piece of 1″ PVC pipe a little longer than my fist.

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I cut it in half on the bandsaw.

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Then I cut it into quarters. Only three of the four are needed.

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A sanding block removes the burrs very quickly.

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I needed to remove the angle from the cut edge using a belt sander.

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This is what they looked like afterward. All three pieces needed this.

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The pieces then fit perfectly around the steel pipe.

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I laid out a bed of duct tape then laid the PVC pieces in place, outer edge to outer edge.

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Using a sharp knife, I trimmed off the tape from the top and bottom.

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Then I trimmed off the tape from one side.

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The PVC wrapped around nicely, and the remaining tape folded over to make it into a sleeve.

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Here you can see why the corners needed to be removed.

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After removing the sleeve and the screw/nuts, I sprayed the whole thing black.

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I screwed the flange into a scrap of wood to use as a clamping base.

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In this case, I clamped a brick to counter weight the camera, but this can be swapped out with whatever weight item needed.

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Last I screwed on the camera, and tightened the nut up to it snuggly.

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I have three side by side tests in the video above!

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See, I told you it was simple!!

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