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Who does DIY

barnowl 12 697
23 Oct 2012 9:10PM
Dont know if this is the correct place to post this or even if anyone is interested.

When I have wanted a piece of kit but thought that my use for it was limited i try to make something that will do the job for me. So I decided to try and make my own gimbal head. I know that you can buy Far East ones for next to nothing but I felt that I could make it for not much more and have the satisfaction of knowing that i had completed the challenge of doing it.

This is where I am at the moment. Lens bracket still to make which hopefully will be done quite soon.

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newfocus 12 647 2 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2012 9:23PM
I don't really have the facilities to make mechanical stuff like that (I could get quite into it if I did) but I've built various bits of camera control electronics, partly just for the sake of having a project and partly because there were things I wanted that didn't exist. The latest is a programmable time lapse controller which shoots various patterns and automates scenarios like sunset to night transitions.
779HOB 6 1.2k United Kingdom
23 Oct 2012 9:25PM
I can hardly make a cup of tea so what you have done is pretty impressive to me.
23 Oct 2012 9:27PM
It looks just the part and very well machined, very impressive. I have worked on several DIY projects for photography / video, most recently an 8 metre camera crane arm for video filming. You could consider trying anodising to give the gimbal a hard wearing black finish.
rambler Plus
9 969 17 England
23 Oct 2012 10:21PM
I was a carpenter, not sure what it would look like made from a lump of 4 x 2 Smile

Looks like you are doing a great job and having fun.
Newdevonian 5 466 United Kingdom
24 Oct 2012 8:44AM
Neat job! Aluminium or Stainless Steel?
barnowl 12 697
24 Oct 2012 9:02AM
The main parts are aluminium and the spindles are stainless steel. Roller thrust bearing in the bottom of the base with a taper roller bearing in the top. There are also 2 sintered bushes to locate the spindle.

The top is pretty much the same except for the spindle running against a nylon bearing in the front. This allows it to lock down with only 1/2 a turn of the knob.
Newdevonian 5 466 United Kingdom
24 Oct 2012 9:46AM
That's a good spec. It deserves to go commercial.
arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
24 Oct 2012 9:54AM
That looks superb barnowl Smile

I bought one of the Indian Gimbal heads 2-3yrs back, and the only problem with it was that it wouldn't pan or tilt smoothly, due to nylon bushes/washers.
I wanted to use precision bearings but had to compromise;
I replaced the nylon parts with washers made from a sheet of PTFE, and wrapped PTFE tape around the tilt spindle.
The PTFE made a huge improvement over the nylon, and whilst I no longer do any wildlife photography, I use the gimbal head now for video.
barnowl 12 697
24 Oct 2012 11:19AM
Thanks for the comments and encouragement.

It's probably over engineered but both spindles turn very smoothly with absolutely no play whatsoever.

The lens bracket will not be adjustable. It will be made for my 500mm which is the only lens I will use on it. If I decide to use a smaller lens I will machine a spacer block that will lift the lens to the centre line of the horizontal spindle to keep the balance correct.

Once I get the lens on it I can sort out the tension on the spindles. I have used wave spring washers in the horizontal spindle as this allows a fine adjustment. But the leverage of a 500mm is considerable and what seems to be the correct tension turns out too loose when the lens is on it.

There are huge choices of bearings available if anyone fancies trying to upgrade a lower spec one. Try www.bearingboys.co.uk or www.simplybearings.co.uk

I have used nylon for the tilt spindle front bearing because that's what I had to hand. I can modify it as needed to use PTFE or phosphor bronze.

Not sure on the finish. Anodising would be nice but I'm wary about the bearing housings being coated and reducing the clearances. Will probably just etch prime it and then use a black wrinkle finish from a can. That way I can easily refinish it when it gets marked.

Regards to you all.
arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
24 Oct 2012 11:45AM
I still have the sheet of PTFE barnowl, and if you want a piece, I can cut an oversize square piece that you can refine to a specific shape/size.
I'll pop it in an envelope and send it FOC, if you think it's usable.
Send me a pm if you're interested.
Newdevonian 5 466 United Kingdom
24 Oct 2012 11:47AM
I assume the lens bracket will be L shaped. Would it not be possible to allow for the fitment of various diameter lenses, by having a sliding(and screw down) block with the lens fitment attached, fixed the the bottom of the L bracket? Any spacer would add strain to the bearing assembly, due to greater leverage.
barnowl 12 697
24 Oct 2012 12:53PM
Yes the bracket will be L shaped with a manfrotto lens mount on it. That will allow me to balance the lens properly. A sliding height adjustment would be nice and if I had access to a milling machine I would make one. The only other lens that would possibly go on it is a 300 f4 which is considerable lighter than the 500. I could just mount it and not worry about the centre line of the tilt spindle being on the centreline of the lens but a small block will be ok.

As for the load on the bearings. A conservative calc is that it would take 200 kgs to bend the unsupported spindle. I don't think it's going anywhere. I should have used lighter bearings really but it was all I had to hand at the time. Future ones will be slightly different.
barnowl 12 697
30 Oct 2012 7:49PM
Have now welded the 3 main parts together, etch primed and top coated the assembly. Starting to look a bit more like it with some paint on.

Newdevonian 5 466 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2012 8:32PM
Looks the business. Did you need to jig the items to stop distortion?

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