Home-made gimbal head

Started Sep 6, 2003 | Discussions
markE
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Home-made gimbal head
Sep 6, 2003

David Brewer, a newer forum member, has "imagineered" a very economical gimbal-type tripod head. This is very similar to the $150 Bogen I purchased recently, and MUCH cheaper than the pro-quality version made by Wimberly (which is WAY over built for us bazooka shooters, BTW).
He has informed me that it cost him a total of $22 in parts.

I've posted a few pics of the completed "DB Gimbal" at the following link. All Dave asks for is feedback from anyone else who decides to give it a go.

http://www.pbase.com/marke/david_brewers_gimbal_mount
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markE
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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 6, 2003

markE wrote:

David Brewer, a newer forum member, has "imagineered" a very
economical gimbal-type tripod head. This is very similar to the
$150 Bogen I purchased recently, and MUCH cheaper than the
pro-quality version made by Wimberly (which is WAY over built for
us bazooka shooters, BTW).
He has informed me that it cost him a total of $22 in parts.
I've posted a few pics of the completed "DB Gimbal" at the
following link. All Dave asks for is feedback from anyone else who
decides to give it a go.

Interesting idea. With a 600mm equivelant "Bazooka", is he having any trouble with flex in that arm?

I'm playing with gimbal heads, inverted, for macro use. They are suprisingly versatile in that setting.

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Gerald M. Payne
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 6, 2003

markE wrote:

David Brewer, a newer forum member, has "imagineered" a very
economical gimbal-type tripod head. This is very similar to the
$150 Bogen I purchased recently, and MUCH cheaper than the
pro-quality version made by Wimberly (which is WAY over built for
us bazooka shooters, BTW).
He has informed me that it cost him a total of $22 in parts.
I've posted a few pics of the completed "DB Gimbal" at the
following link. All Dave asks for is feedback from anyone else who
decides to give it a go.

http://www.pbase.com/marke/david_brewers_gimbal_mount

Very interesting. A couple quick questions.

Wouldn't it be a lot sturdier if it was made with a U shaped bracket within a U shaped bracket rather than just two L shaped brackets? Basically adding a mirror image of the bracket he built connected at the base of each current L. (sort of like telescope mounts I've seen over the years)

~~ ~~ ~
~ ~ ~
rather than

(I'm almost sure that's going to look like crappola... the chararcter "art")

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like it could also benefit greatly from a set of (possibly adjustable)limit pins or stops to keep the lens from pivoting too far forward and nailing the tripod? Or am I missing just such a feature?

Please understand I'm not criticizing, just trying to size the thing up.

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Gerald M. Payne, Sep 6, 2003

Gerald M. Payne wrote:

Very interesting. A couple quick questions.

Wouldn't it be a lot sturdier if it was made with a U shaped
bracket within a U shaped bracket rather than just two L shaped
brackets?

Yes, but it would also get in the way of operating 1/2 the camera controls. Most cameras are right handed, which is why the "serious" gimball heads (Wimberly, Kirk King Cobra, Ries DPNP action head) use heavy cast arms, supporting the rig entirely from the left. This also allows you to have a single, adjustable friction lock.

Basically adding a mirror image of the bracket he built
connected at the base of each current L. (sort of like telescope
mounts I've seen over the years)

Have a look at the Bogen version, which is built exactly as you describe.

~~ ~~ ~
~ ~ ~
rather than

(I'm almost sure that's going to look like crappola... the
chararcter "art")

You were right. DPreview strips spaces, making it hard to present ASCII art, or neat tables.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like it could also
benefit greatly from a set of (possibly adjustable)limit pins or
stops to keep the lens from pivoting too far forward and nailing
the tripod? Or am I missing just such a feature?

The goal of a gimbal head is to put the center of gravity of the lens/camera system right at the pivot point, so you don't have to worry about such things. If you're not moving it, it stays put, it doesn't periodically try to destroy your lens and camera (the way a ball head will).

Please understand I'm not criticizing, just trying to size the
thing up.

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terdonal
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 6, 2003

markE wrote:

David Brewer, a newer forum member, has "imagineered" a very
economical gimbal-type tripod head. This is very similar to the
$150 Bogen I purchased recently, and MUCH cheaper than the
pro-quality version made by Wimberly (which is WAY over built for
us bazooka shooters, BTW).
He has informed me that it cost him a total of $22 in parts.
I've posted a few pics of the completed "DB Gimbal" at the
following link. All Dave asks for is feedback from anyone else who
decides to give it a go.

http://www.pbase.com/marke/david_brewers_gimbal_mount
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markE
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Mark, did I miss your comments on how this Bogen head unit worked when you got it? Was it worth the money and did it meet your needs?

Terry
http://www.pbase.com/terdonal

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markE
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Sep 6, 2003

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

Interesting idea. With a 600mm equivelant "Bazooka", is he having
any trouble with flex in that arm?

He hasn't mentioned a problem with it yet. It's possible that the brackets are stiff enough, and the bazooka really isn't that heavy.

I'm playing with gimbal heads, inverted, for macro use. They are
suprisingly versatile in that setting.

Interesting! What type(s) have you tried? What's your reason for inverting the head? I know that it isn't quite as stable that way (at least with my Bogen).

Thanks.
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markE
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Gerald M. Payne, Sep 6, 2003

Gerald M. Payne wrote:

Very interesting. A couple quick questions.

Wouldn't it be a lot sturdier if it was made with a U shaped
bracket within a U shaped bracket rather than just two L shaped
brackets?

That's the way I expected to see the final product, when David first told me of his idea. I haven't asked him about it yet, but he also hasn't mentioned it was a problem.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like it could also
benefit greatly from a set of (possibly adjustable)limit pins or
stops to keep the lens from pivoting too far forward and nailing
the tripod?

Good question! David mentioned that with his design, only the support arm will hit the tripod. But he has mentioned that he'll probably add some padding to the arm itself.

My Bogen has a rubber ring that covers the horizontal panning knob (where the lens would hit). The only problem with this, is that the rubber ring can very easily be bumped off if you rub it against something (such as when carrying it over the shoulder. I have to look at some way of preventing this, or at least some kind of "leash" to catch it in case it does get pulled off.

Please understand I'm not criticizing, just trying to size the
thing up.

No! I completely understand. This exactly what David is looking for...ideas and questions!

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 6, 2003

markE wrote:

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

Interesting idea. With a 600mm equivelant "Bazooka", is he having
any trouble with flex in that arm?

He hasn't mentioned a problem with it yet. It's possible that the
brackets are stiff enough, and the bazooka really isn't that heavy.

Cool. I'm used to slightly heavier gear.

I'm playing with gimbal heads, inverted, for macro use. They are
suprisingly versatile in that setting.

Interesting! What type(s) have you tried? What's your reason for
inverting the head? I know that it isn't quite as stable that way
(at least with my Bogen).

I've inverted the Wimberly, and a home brew head of my own design.

On a tripod that lets you invert the column, an inverted gimbal head gives you a man and tilt camera platform very close to the ground, with the camera right side up. It's really very convenient.

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markE
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Sep 6, 2003

Wouldn't it be a lot sturdier if it was made with a U shaped
bracket within a U shaped bracket rather than just two L shaped
brackets?

Yes, but it would also get in the way of operating 1/2 the camera
controls. Most cameras are right handed, which is why the "serious"
gimball heads (Wimberly, Kirk King Cobra, Ries DPNP action head)
use heavy cast arms, supporting the rig entirely from the left.

Actually, my Bogen has support on both sides. The camera sits far enough back for this not to be a problem. And with the big gun Canon/Nikon lenses, the gimbal is mounted to the mounting bracket on the rotating lens ring, so I don't think it's an issue with them either.

This also allows you to have a single, adjustable friction lock.

THIS is a good reason! I have two separate knobs on my Bogen, and one single adjstment would be more convenient.

Have a look at the Bogen version, which is built exactly as you
describe.

The goal of a gimbal head is to put the center of gravity of the
lens/camera system right at the pivot point, so you don't have to
worry about such things. If you're not moving it, it stays put, it
doesn't periodically try to destroy your lens and camera (the way a
ball head will).

True. It is nothing like a ballhead in that respect. But even when you have the camera/lens perfectly balanced, it can still move up or down if it is knocked or if you pick it up and tilt the assembly (for instance, when throwing it over your shoulder). I always lock down the tension a bit before I pick it up.

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markE
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markE
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to terdonal, Sep 6, 2003

terdonal wrote:

Mark, did I miss your comments on how this Bogen head unit worked
when you got it? Was it worth the money and did it meet your needs?

I haven't used it much, because it doesn't fit my Slik tripod. I'll probably pick up a new tripod next week. I tried it on my monopod, but I don' think a monopod really allows you to utilize this head to it's fullest advantage.

Do I think it's worth it? Yes. If I woud have known about something like David's idea beforehand, I'm sure I would have tried it first.

There are some refinements thast make the Bogen very nice, such as the sliding mounting plate, which makes it very easy to set up aperfect balance. The plate also has built-in pins that limit the for/aft movement. This will prevent the camera from comepletely sliding off the gimbal if you do forget to tighten it down.

What I found surprizing was that Arthur Morris told me that the $500+ Wimberly didn't originally have any kind of prevention like this, and you could easliy say good bye to your $6,000 L lens if you forgot to tighten the camera down. They apparently modified this recently to prevent this problem.

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markE
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markE
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Sep 6, 2003

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

I've inverted the Wimberly, and a home brew head of my own design.

Do you use the regular model or the Sidekick? What lens(es) do you use? How do you like it?
Care to share your own design with us?

On a tripod that lets you invert the column, an inverted gimbal
head gives you a man and tilt camera platform very close to the
ground, with the camera right side up. It's really very convenient.

Oh, yes! I can see how that would be nice to use. The Bogen can also be inverted. It also has adjustable positions for the pivot point on the side arms.

Thanks, Joe.
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markE
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Gimball head update and New Blue update...
In reply to markE, Sep 7, 2003

Sometime this weekend, I hope to edit David's e-mails to me, and post the construction details.

Also, no big news about New Blue, expect that I learned a lesson in patience this morning. I was out at the park at 6:30 this morning before work. There he was, perched in one of his favorite trees. Now all I had to do was wait for the morning sun to come over the trees, and lighten him in golden light. Well, I rushed it and ruined my chance. What usually takes me 20 to 30 minutes in my approach, I tried to lessen to 5 or 10 minutes. Well, that was too much for NB. He let out a squawk of disapproval, and took off for another side of the pond. I was able to get a couple shots of him in the light, but this location is much further away, and doesn't allow me the ability to get any closer (about 80 feet instead of 30 or 40). I should have known better. It was even obvious in his body language, but I was just being selfish and impatient.
I'll try again tomorrow morning.

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David W. Brewer
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 7, 2003

I wishto thank Mark for his support of my imagineering and his willingness to assist me in disseminating information about my gimbal design. I haven't figured out how to post images to this forum and Mark kindly agreed to post the prototype photos on his gallery. I completed the finished gimbal this morning (painting and fine-tuning) and took it for a test drive. It exceeded my expectations and I am hooked.

I have a construction article put together, alone with images of the finished product (with the bazooka attached). I made one critical adjustment to the finished product, moving the vertical pivot point from the top hole in the brackets to one hole down from the top. This reduced the vertical pivo radius (thereby quickening the pivot and making the gimbal more responsive, but it preserved the degrees of movement in the vertical axis. Most important, with minimal tension of the vertical pivot, I have NO flexing with the weight of the bazooka.

I did not engineer in a counterbalance, so the bazooka comes to rest in a nose-down attitude. It does not come into contact with the tripod/ballhead at rest, but may be snugged down for transport with the support arm against the blallhead base. I would suggest adding a bit of padding to the nderside of the support arm if this option is exercised. AS such, it must be guided with the left hand/arm when in use. However, with the weight of the bazooka borne by the tripod, it is a dream to move in either axis or both axes simultaneously. Use of a gimbal is intuitive; with a little practice tracking moving objects is a dream.

I have a couple of images of the finished product (with the bazooka attached) and a construction article which I will make available. If you wish same, please e-mail me at dwbrewer@mchsi.com. What I would ask in return is feedback, comments, suggestions for improvement, etc. My objective is to make an affordable gimbal design that anyone may make, thereby extending the joy of using a gimbal to more photographers.

Much thanks go to Mark for his support and assistance.

markE wrote:

David Brewer, a newer forum member, has "imagineered" a very
economical gimbal-type tripod head. This is very similar to the
$150 Bogen I purchased recently, and MUCH cheaper than the
pro-quality version made by Wimberly (which is WAY over built for
us bazooka shooters, BTW).
He has informed me that it cost him a total of $22 in parts.
I've posted a few pics of the completed "DB Gimbal" at the
following link. All Dave asks for is feedback from anyone else who
decides to give it a go.

http://www.pbase.com/marke/david_brewers_gimbal_mount
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Gerald M. Payne
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Sep 7, 2003

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

Gerald M. Payne wrote:

Very interesting. A couple quick questions.

Wouldn't it be a lot sturdier if it was made with a U shaped
bracket within a U shaped bracket rather than just two L shaped
brackets?

Yes, but it would also get in the way of operating 1/2 the camera
controls. Most cameras are right handed, which is why the "serious"
gimball heads (Wimberly, Kirk King Cobra, Ries DPNP action head)
use heavy cast arms, supporting the rig entirely from the left.
This also allows you to have a single, adjustable friction lock.

Hmmm, I don't see how a properly sized full gimble mount instead of a half would get in the way of most camera controls considering the setback that one would expect with nearly any lense that would require such a mount? They're usually rather long. Further, it seems one heavy duty friction "lock" that would suffice on a half gimble design would do almost equally as well on a full gimble, except for the extra mass added by not quite doubling the weight of the inner arm/camera support platform. I'll grant you there is a tradeoff between added mass and portability.

Basically adding a mirror image of the bracket he built
connected at the base of each current L. (sort of like telescope
mounts I've seen over the years)

Have a look at the Bogen version, which is built exactly as you
describe.

I will. Thanks.

You were right. DPreview strips spaces, making it hard to present
ASCII art, or neat tables.

It's not always gratifying to be right, is it?

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like it could also
benefit greatly from a set of (possibly adjustable)limit pins or
stops to keep the lens from pivoting too far forward and nailing
the tripod? Or am I missing just such a feature?

The goal of a gimbal head is to put the center of gravity of the
lens/camera system right at the pivot point, so you don't have to
worry about such things. If you're not moving it, it stays put, it
doesn't periodically try to destroy your lens and camera (the way a
ball head will).

I understand the goal, but friction locks have failed, I'm sure users have undertensioned them while helping support the camera/lens and then forgotten when they let go, etc., etc. My overall goal in design is to think of the things other people won't, or simply don't.(often in the sense of "safety" as most of the equipment my designs have controlled would easily be deadly) If a limit stop would prevent someone from ruining a lens by say simply trying to dismount the camera rather than having to remove both camera and lens from the support and then juggle both, then I think a couple simple limits might be advisable. I do think they'd have to be adjustable to compensate for differing lenses lengths/barrel diameters in order to provide maximum throw while maintaining their purpose.

Please understand I'm not criticizing, just trying to size the
thing up.

Nothing much I can add to my former statement. I'm just "better mousetrapping" or trying.

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Gerald M. Payne
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 7, 2003

markE wrote:

Gerald M. Payne wrote:

Very interesting. A couple quick questions.

Wouldn't it be a lot sturdier if it was made with a U shaped
bracket within a U shaped bracket rather than just two L shaped
brackets?

That's the way I expected to see the final product, when David
first told me of his idea. I haven't asked him about it yet, but he
also hasn't mentioned it was a problem.

Guess I'm just the type that would rather see the load supported at both ends of an axis. Less chance by far of any torsion effects on the members.

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like it could also
benefit greatly from a set of (possibly adjustable)limit pins or
stops to keep the lens from pivoting too far forward and nailing
the tripod?

Good question! David mentioned that with his design, only the
support arm will hit the tripod. But he has mentioned that he'll
probably add some padding to the arm itself.

Aha! From the photos it looked to me like the lens would hit something first, but I was envisioning a BIG lens and probably not allowing for the lift that the bracket on the lens would provide.

My Bogen has a rubber ring that covers the horizontal panning knob
(where the lens would hit). The only problem with this, is that the
rubber ring can very easily be bumped off if you rub it against
something (such as when carrying it over the shoulder. I have to
look at some way of preventing this, or at least some kind of
"leash" to catch it in case it does get pulled off.

Dab a little rubber cement on the nob and slap the cap back on. If you ever need to get it off most rubber cement can be easily released with a bit of stretching. Especially if you let it mostly dry before you pop the cap on. The spray adhesive used for mounting sand paper on a cone or drum is nice for release characteristics too.

Please understand I'm not criticizing, just trying to size the
thing up.

No! I completely understand. This exactly what David is looking
for...ideas and questions!

I'd have to say, if it's strong enough the way it is, then there really is no reason to overdo it. Has he thought about using a ball bearing on the shaft to make things SMOOOOOTH and help deal with some of the off axis tension he must get when the weight of the camera/lens loads the shaft? You can get inline roller skate bearings for a song in nearly any Kmart/Walmart that sells skates and replacement parts. Might be fun to see if they work out, though they aren't designed for a lot of off-axis loading. With a double sided frame or full gimble the bearings might be a lot more effective.

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Joseph S Wisniewski
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to markE, Sep 7, 2003

markE wrote:

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

I've inverted the Wimberly, and a home brew head of my own design.

Do you use the regular model or the Sidekick?

The "regular" Wimberly. I don't own a ballhead that is adaquate for use with the sidekick.

What lens(es) do you use?

60mm, 105mm, and 200mm Micro-Nikkors.

How do you like it?

Love it. It's very stable. I use the Wimberly, and one of the Bogen geared macro slides for fine positioning.

Care to share your own design with us?

Not really. The fabrication is a bit involved. The curved arm is formed by casting a wax arm in a 2 part mold, winding carbon fiber over it, coating it with Epoxy, applying vacuum for a few minutes to set the epoxy into the fivers, and after the epoxy has cured, melting out the wax form.

On a tripod that lets you invert the column, an inverted gimbal
head gives you a man and tilt camera platform very close to the
ground, with the camera right side up. It's really very convenient.

Oh, yes! I can see how that would be nice to use. The Bogen can
also be inverted. It also has adjustable positions for the pivot
point on the side arms.

Thanks, Joe.

You're quite welcome.

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markE
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Gerald M. Payne, Sep 7, 2003

Gerald M. Payne wrote:

Guess I'm just the type that would rather see the load supported at
both ends of an axis. Less chance by far of any torsion
effects on the members.

I know what you're talking about. If I remember correctly though, the Wimberly (both models) have an overbuilt pivot design. I think it's actually built like a large bushing, about 1 and 1/2 inches long, and at least a good 3/4-inch in diameter. There's one made another company (one sided also), called "The Cobra" I believe, that carries a bushing about one full inch in diameter.

Even though the double-sided design would feel the best, and probably last longer, given the small amount of travel that this bearing actually gets, I think the loss in weight is probably worth the slightly shorter life. I've only played with a couple Wimberly setups myself (with 500 & 600 L lenses) and they felt very smooth to me. I can't attest to how well they hold up in full-time field use, but they seem to be the top choice for pros that require a gimbal. On the other hand, my Bogen is double-sided, but I've never seen a pro use one.

From the photos it looked to me like the lens would hit
something first, but I was envisioning a BIG lens and probably not
allowing for the lift that the bracket on the lens would provide.

I have a couple other photos of the finished product, complete with a stealthy flat black paint job! I'll post them soon with the construction details.

Dab a little rubber cement on the nob and slap the cap back on. If
you ever need to get it off most rubber cement can be easily
released with a bit of stretching. Especially if you let it mostly
dry before you pop the cap on. The spray adhesive used for
mounting sand paper on a cone or drum is nice for release
characteristics too.

Those are some great ideas! Thanks. I'll probably use a combination of glue and a leash.

I'd have to say, if it's strong enough the way it is, then there
really is no reason to overdo it. Has he thought about using a
ball bearing on the shaft to make things SMOOOOOTH and help deal
with some of the off axis tension he must get when the weight of
the camera/lens loads the shaft? You can get inline roller skate
bearings for a song in nearly any Kmart/Walmart that sells skates
and replacement parts. Might be fun to see if they work out,
though they aren't designed for a lot of off-axis loading. With a
double sided frame or full gimble the bearings might be a lot more
effective.

Bearings might be overkill. I think a lighter bushing design is still the best choice, at least with a light setup like the Oly bazooka. As far as skate bearings go, I believe ball bearings actually handle off-axis loading rather well. Now, mind you, I'm not an expert in bearing design. But when I speedskated on wheels (skeelers in the UK, I believe), one big reason these bearings were used was because of a good ability to take lateral forces (forget roller bearings). Roller bearings are also used in bicycle wheel and headset bearings. Bicycle wheels (and headsets) endure a tremendous amount of lateral stress, related to the size of the wheel and the angles that the wheels roll relative to the road surface. Still, for a gimbal head, I think a bearing's extra weight (and required maintenance) probably aren't worth the extra smooth feel.

YMMV.

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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to Joseph S Wisniewski, Sep 7, 2003

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

Not really. The fabrication is a bit involved. The curved arm is
formed by casting a wax arm in a 2 part mold, winding carbon fiber
over it, coating it with Epoxy, applying vacuum for a few minutes
to set the epoxy into the fivers, and after the epoxy has cured,
melting out the wax form.

Wow, ultra-light design, huh? You want to vacuum mold some speedskating boots for me?
I wonder if the carbon fiber helps to dampen any fibrations.
--
markE
pbase supporter

'In wildness lies the preservation of the world.'
-Henry David Thoreau
-Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/marke/natural_world

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markE
Veteran MemberPosts: 9,396
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Sorry, a correction...
In reply to markE, Sep 7, 2003

markE wrote:

But when I speedskated on wheels
(skeelers in the UK, I believe), one big reason these bearings were
used was because of a good ability to take lateral forces (forget
roller bearings).

By roller bearings, I mean the needle type bearings.

Roller bearings are also used in bicycle wheel
and headset bearings.

Here I meant to write "ball bearings".

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markE
pbase supporter

'In wildness lies the preservation of the world.'
-Henry David Thoreau
-Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/marke/natural_world

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JohnMBailey
Regular MemberPosts: 198
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Re: Home-made gimbal head
In reply to David W. Brewer, Sep 8, 2003

David & MarkE >

http://www.pbase.com/marke/david_brewers_gimbal_mount
--

I'll definitely email for info. I don't understand the pictures, but
I'm no engineer. BTW, I use my tcon17 on the end of the b300s
to capture small birds in my yard about 15~20 ft away.

It's quite a challange to manage focus, exposure, noise and
timing.

But I'm having fun. I can sometimes use the e10/b300s handheld
in good light.

Thanks,
jb

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