Adding a Roller Bearing to the HandlePod DIY Steadicam

Steadicam roller bearing handle

HandlePod DIY steadicam with a roller bearing attached to the gimbal.

The last blog about a DIY steadicam discussed adding a gimbal and balancing the steadicam with adjustments to the HandlePod camera mount. That version of the steadicam did not include a roller bearing to dampen panning movement of the hand. That is the next improvement to be added to the HandlePod DIY steadicam.

In order to further isolate hand movement from the camera, the addition of a roller bearing is the last step. The steadicam works well with the gimbal only, but there is the risk of panning the camera with unintended wrist movement. A roller bearing goes a long way to eliminate that risk.

Spitfire bearings

The Spitfire Classics skateboard bearing makes an excellent roller bearing for the DIY steadicam.

The best equipment to use is a skateboard wheel bearing from suppliers like Spitfire. A package of eight goes for about $12. Other quantities and prices are available on line from a variety of sources. Adding a roller bearing to the steadicam handle involves pressing the bearing into a length of ¾ inch PVC pipe about 1.5 to 2 inches long. This short piece makes assembly easier.  Since the bearing is very slightly larger than the pipe, this takes some care. I heated the PVC in boiling water and forced the bearing into it with an arbor press, but a vise would work just as well.

The next step is to attach the roller bearing to the Traxxas #5151 half shaft below the gimbal. Cut the shaft down to match the thickness of the bearing. The thinner external splined shaft is slightly larger than the hole in the bearing so it must be cut down. I used nail clippers to trim the splines so the shaft would fit in the hole. The shaft is hollow and can be secured to the bearing with a small screw and washer.

To complete the handle I used two PVC joints connected with a short length of ¾” pipe. This creates a thicker, more comfortable handle.  Now install the other shaft of the gimbal into the hole drilled in the steadicam and secure it with a screw and washer as described in the previous blog. Now you are ready to balance the steadicam and take awesome floating camera video with absolutely smooth motion. But shooting with the steadicam will take some getting used to, especially with the addition of a roller bearing. That is the subject of a future blog.

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