The Skypod

A Camera Boom

June 2001

horizontal rule


The Skypod is a ~6 foot boom that attaches to a standard camera tripod and holds a camera about nine feet in the air, pointing straight down. The boom extends several feet horizontally, enabling the photographer or videographer to capture pictures of a floor or table surface. I designed the Skypod so that I could take overhead video of the 2001 Icehouse tournament.

Here are some video tests I performed that show the effectiveness of the Skypod, with the camera at different zoom levels:

Wide Test Pattern Wide Piece Shot
Medium Test Pattern Medium Piece Shot
Tight Test Pattern Tight Piece Shot

The arm of the Skypod is about six feet of 2x3 stud. I used 2x4 in a prototype, but figured this would be a little lighter. The camera end of the arm is cut at 45 degrees, and has a hanger bolt driven perpendicular to that angled surface. When the arm is angled up at 45 degrees, this hanger bolt is horizontal. There's a wing nut on the hanger bolt that I use as a lock nut when the camera is mounted.

Hanger bolt and wing nut

Half way down, the arm is cut through and hinged. I installed a window latch opposite the hinge so that I can lock the arm into a straight beam. The hinge is necessary so that the arm is more portable. That is, so that it can fit in the trunk of my car.

Hinge Lock

About a foot up from the bottom is the mounting plate. I drilled a hole in a quarter-inch piece of wood, then put a tee nut through the hole. Then, I glued&screwed the piece of wood to the bottom of the arm. I could have used a threaded insert, I suppose, but I didn't want to trust it to the possible angular stresses. I've had bad luck with inserts pulling out in the past. The tee nut has a quarter-inch thread, so it mates with standard photo equipment. My tripod uses those nifty new removable mounting plates, so I can change between mounting the arm on my tripod and mounting a camera on the tripod pretty easily.

Mounting plate Mounting plate

At the very bottom end of the arm is a screw hook. I hang a weight off this hook to counterbalance the weight of the arm. This bag has three bricks in it currently, and truthfully, the arm is still a touch heavier. Still, it's pretty closely balanced, and all this weight right over the tripod keeps the tripod steady, so I don't need to sandbag the legs individually.

Hyuakuh Counterweighting

I also put some sticky-back Velcro™ on the top of the arm ends. This allows me to gaff cables in place, and keeps the ends fastened together when the arm is folded. It's very useful for holding a mini-TV that I use as a video monitor.

Velcro Fastened
Eeyore Links: [Physical Objects] [Flourishing Branch] [Home Page]