As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Tripod Topper

 
Please Note: In this project I took a lot of inspiration from one of John Heisz's projects over on ibuildit.ca. Specifically, his Tripod Extension Arm project. I would encourage you to go visit his web page as well.

On the right you can see my (silver) camera tripod. There's nothing special about this; it's a basic camera tripod that my father-in-law gave me a number of years ago. This is what I've been using for making videos. There are a few things that I'd like to change about this tripod.

First, I would like it to be higher. In the photo it is at it's full extension, which is only around 5ft tall. Second, adjusting the height of the legs is awkward and time consuming. I suspect that is the same for most inexpensive tripods. Finally, I have a small shop, and this tripod with the legs splayed out, frankly takes up a lot of space.

Because I have a small shop, and because the tripod is not that tall, I often want to put the camera up on top of a bench or tool, to get a shot. The large footprint of tripod can make that difficult. The awkwardness with adjusting the height makes that also difficult. My first idea was to build a tripod extension for the top, as John Heisz did. (please see the above link for that.) This would give it more height, but would still take up lots of floor space.

Coincidentally, my son discovered this small black tripod -- which I am holding in the photo -- on trash day. One of the plastic feet was missing, which was easily remedied with duct tape. As well, there was no camera mount on the top. There was a piece of small plastic, with an adjustment screw (which I removed) but that was all. Upon reflection I believe that it was likely a lighting tripod and not a camera tripod.

I liked how this tripod has a small footprint, and you can adjust the height by simply twising one knob on the pole. So I decided tro try and make a camera mount for the top of this tripod.

In this close-up photo of the top of the tripod you can see that that there is nothing there now but a round, slightly tapered, pipe. (You can also see the knob for the height adjustment.)

You can make your own knobs with bolts and nuts and some creative woodwork. However, I happened to have some 1/4-20 jig fixtures which I bought at Lee Valley Tools some years ago. The large knobs have an embedded nut which accepts 1/4" bolts. The small knob has a length of 1/4" bolt attached. These three will make this project even easier.

First I cut a block of wood. I did not measure, I just eyeballed it and make it "big enough". In one side I drilled a 3/4" hole so that it would slip over the top of the tripod post. Then I flipped it 90-degrees and drilled a 5/16" hole towards the other end. This would be where an L-shaped assembly for the camera would be attached with a bolt and knob.

Over on the bandsaw I then cut a slot from the edge into that large hole...

And then drilled another 5/16" hole across the end and through that cut. I could now fit another bolt through that hole and use it to tighten up the large hole. In this way the mounting block could be clamped tight onto the post on the tripod.

Then I took another length of wood -- approximately two-and-a-half or three inches wide -- and cut it into two pieces. One piece would be an upright extension attached to the mounting block. The other would be the camera mount block (which would be attached to the upright forming an L-shaped assembly.)

The upright requires a hole for where it attaches to the mounting block. The camera mount block requires a more complicated arrangement. A large hole is drilled just deep enough to fit a nylon bolt. then a through hole is drilled.

This knob+bolt is fitted through the hole. The nylon nut is loosely attached on the other side. In this way it becomes a captured bolt, which can be used to screw into a camera mounting hole.

When it is all together this is what it looks like. The mounting block fits onto the top post of the tripod. On the right side is the knob+bolt which will clamp that large hole closed, tightening the mounting block onto the post. On the left is the knob+bolt for attaching the upright to the mounting block. And at the top is the camera mount, with a camera attached.

I did not really gain any height with this adaptor. BUT, the new tripod is very compact and as you can see here, it is very easy to lift it up onto a bench which gives me a lot more height for taking video, and also better angles.

The upright arm swings forwar so that the camera can tilt forward or back a full ninety degrees or more. As well, I can now raise the camera as high as the ceiling.

This is clearly a very special purpose project, but hopefully you found it interesting and perhaps could pick out some ideas or techniques that you can use in one of your projects. And another shot showing

 

Thanks for reading!

See Also:


Headphone Holders


X-Wing Birdhouse


Marble Racetrack