How to Build a Cheap Steadicam

A steadicam is a device used to stabilize the camera when filming a scene while it is moving. Before the invention of the tool, there were two other options for filming a scene using a moving camera. One was by holding and stabilizing the camera with the cameraman’s own body or hands. This allowed the cameraman to move much quicker with greater flexibility, but was also susceptible to shaking. The use of a dolly was another alternative, but took some time to set up and could not be used in certain situations. A steadicam combined the advantages of both a handheld camera and using a dolly. However, the device is also known to be expensive. Here are a few steps in building a cheaper steadicam.

Step 1: Assemble the Camera Mount

Lock a ½ inch end cap in place using a vice and drill a hole through the center. When drilling, use a ¼ inch drill bit that is built especially for drilling onto metal. Drill a hole as close to the center of the end cap as possible. Do the same process for two end caps. Next, place a ¼ inch lock washer at the end of a machine bolt where the head is located. The machine bolt should be at least 1 ½ inches in length and 1.4-inch in diameter. Place the head end of the bolt on the inside of the end cap. Add another lock washer and a machine bolt nut on top. Tighten the nut in place using a wrench. Add a wing nut to the bolt and a 1 ½-inch flange washer. At the end of this bolt is where the camera can be screwed on and mounted.

Step 2: Construct the Counter Weight

Using another ¼-inch machine bolt, add two1 ½-inch flange washer with a weight sandwiched between the two washers. A dumbbell weight is the most suitable for this purpose as it is flat and easy to find. Make sure that the weight weighs around 2 to 5 lbs. and has a 1 inch hole in the middle. Using a weight heavier than 5 lbs will make the device more difficult to carry. Add an end cap with the protruding part nearer the head of the machine bolt. Place a 1/4-inch lock washer and nut inside the end cap through the machine bolt. Tighten the entire counter weight together.

Step 3: Assemble the Frame

Connect three iron galvanized steel pipes measuring ten inches in length and ½-inch in diameter using a ½-inch tee. Block iron pipe may also be used instead of galvanized iron pipes. At the bottom end, screw in the counter weight while at the top attach the camera mount. The middle of the tee is where the cameraman will hold the device. Attach another end cap at the end of the middle pipe. Paint the frame for a cleaner and more professional look. Coat the entire frame with a metal primer, then spray paint it. Although any color may be used, a black color will make the frame match better with most cameras.