DIY Camera stabilizer design      

Stabiliser 3

Stabiliser #3 January 2011

This original design of mine has been constructed from aluminium, solely for the Creative Vado HD pocket video camera. The design can be kept fairly simple because it does not have to accommodate different shapes, sizes and weights of camera. I attempted to minimise the dimensions and weight of the stabiliser. It was built from basic materials, and without any sophisticated tools. The total weight, including the 90 gms camera, is 420gms, about 15oz.

I have tried to keep the mass symmetrically positioned around the vertical axis of rotation. Asymmetrically positioned masses create centrifugal forces and moments of inertia which can produce unwanted tilt or roll. I positioned the counterweights as high as possible to avoid contact with my hand or arm. Smaller dimensions result in a lower moment of inertia because that is a function of mass times the square of the distance between any mass (such as a counterweight) and the centre of rotation.

I like to use this stabiliser holding only the handle, and panning by rotating the vertical shaft of the gimbal. It is a very light stabiliser, and even a light touch can upset the level of the camera.This method does not allow me to alter the tilt.

I cut down and shaped a piece of scrap aluminium alloy for the camera plate. 4mm threaded hexagonal spacers were tapped into the end of the tubes, and sit tightly in place. The camera plate and the counterweights are screwed into the ends of the tubes. Two small pads on the camera plate help to locate the camera.

There is no room for a larger knob on the camera fixing screw, so I glued a short length of aluminium tubing onto the screw. Below, the same tube, shortened and fitted with a collar cut from a pen barrel. This gives a little more purchase for the finger



The bearing of the gimbal is set into the top of the handle, and a small wheel allows panning without touching the gimbal above the tilt and pan pivot point of the gimbal.

The screw end of the torch is fixed to the camera plate, and the gimbal housing is screwed up into place. I reamed out the male end of the universal joint a little, and the 5mm screw cuts its own thread into it.  s.

An alternative arrangement of the counterweights, with slightly smaller diameter washers. Four of the washers can be slid sideways to adjust pan and tilt balance. There is a compressible ring in the centre to make pressure adjustment easier. I rubbed down the moving surfaces with very fine silicone carbide paper to make the friction a little more consistent.

Below, as in previous designs, I used my own design of gimbal using a TRAXXAS universal joint  combined with a ball bearing set into the top of the handle. I used two cheap LED torches, one for the housing around the gimbal and one for the handle. Unlike previous designs, the top of the universal joint is not fixed inside the gimbal housing, but is screwed directly to the camera plate.

Modification, February 2011. I have added more weight at the top to increase stability, but it is still very sensitive to handling.