Build a Steadicam for Smartphones with PVC and HandlePod

Video cameras in the not too distant past were large, weighty devices either mounted on a tripod or supported on the shoulder. How different things are today with featherweight camcorders held in the palm of one hand and tiny camera phones grasped in the fingers. But the extreme reduction in size and weight makes these miniature cameras difficult to hold steady and shaky video is a common problem. Optical or electronic stabilization helps, but some hand-held shake is unavoidable.

There are many steadicam-type devices that take the shake out of hand-held video. It is even possible to run smoothly with little or no shake. Previous blogs have described how to make a DIY steadicam using HandlePod as the camera mount. The design works for a palmcorder or, with the addition of a bit more counterweight, a DSLR.

HandlePod and PVC Makes a Simple Steadicam for Smartphones

Steadicam for iPhone or any smartphone.

Steadicam made with HandlePod and PVC pipe.

The same basic design will also work on a smartphone with equally impressive results. The difference is weight. The bottom PVC pipe holds nuts or other metal pieces as a counterweight. It is only about seven inches long instead of twelve to thirteen inches for heavier cameras.

The PVC connector for the handle extension is a T instead of a 90 degree el. This allows the HandlePod to be raised higher on the device for better balance.

The HandlePod steadicam pictured shows it balanced on the hand rather than held by a gimbaled handle with a roller bearing. A gimbal and roller bearing can be added as described in previous blogs.

But given the light weight of the smartphone it is not absolutely essential. It may smooth out some of the movement, but is more difficult to build and use and can shift in the slightest breeze. Balancing the properly weighted steadicam on one hand will produce more than acceptable results with a little practice.

HandlePod Is a Versatile Camera Mount for the Steadicam

Using HandlePod as the camera phone mount offers distinct advantages. Of course it requires a tripod adapter. Any type will do but the Dot Line Smartphone Tripod Mount is recommended. Three-axis movement of the mount lets you point the camera up or down as required. You can even tilt it to achieve a “Dutch” angle. Moving the camera phone forward or backward along the slotted mount lets you adjust the center of balance for the most comfortable fit.

This steadicam made with PVC pipe and the HandlePod can be built in a matter of minutes for just a few dollars. It is the simplest, cheapest DIY design out there and delivers amazing results. If you want your video to look as if the camera flew on wings, this is the easiest, least expensive way to do it.

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One thought on “Build a Steadicam for Smartphones with PVC and HandlePod

  1. Kevin Carney

    I never realized the counter weight is what provides the stability, but that makes sense. It seems surprising to me how little counter weight it takes to stabilize a smart phone camera.

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