Stabiliser #1, August 2008
This is a DIY (low tech) camera stabilizer in form similar to the MERLIN. I used mostly scrap or surplus materials. The functioning depends on balance and inertia. A piece of 1/8 inch aluminium forms the camera platform. An aluminium torch was reconfigured to act as a handle. It's not an ideal shape for the hand, but the head allows the ball bearing of the gimbal to be held in place satisfactorily. A curved aluminium tube screwed to the camera plate holds the steel washers used as counterweights. The pictures here represent experiments over a period of time, and dimensions and balance configurations are different from time to time.
A crucial element of the design is the gimbal, and I developed my own low friction design using a universal joint combined with a small ball bearing. details
For these experiments, I have been using a Panasonic NV-GS60 camera weighing a total of 600mg (1.3lbs) with the large battery attached. The whole system weighs about 3lbs. I have positioned the gimbal some distance below the camera to maximise the inertial effect of the camera's mass.The moment of inertia experienced at the gimbal centre is determined by the square of the distance to any mass beyond that point.
Dynamic balancing of asymmetrically arranged masses
The orange dots indicate the principle centres of mass of the camera and the counterweights. The diagram, right, excludes the mass of the stabiliser framework, although it is not insignificant.
While panning, the centrifugal forces of m1, m2 and m3 need to be balanced, otherwise they can produce tilting effects. The vertical distance from the horizontal axis is significant in in this respect. In addition to this, an unbalanced system may experience a tilt or roll force when beginning or ending a fast pan.
Aerodynamics. July 2009
With the stabilizer so finely balanced, and the gimbal so low in friction, even a light breeze can cause instability. The main problem is a side wind, and the modifications shown below are quite effective at balancing the aerodynamics.
The stabiliser with a variable friction panning ring and gimbal #5