DIY Camera Crane

The finished crane at its highest point

The finished crane at it’s highest point

Over the past week I have been building a camera crane, or jib.  For those of you who do not know what a camera crane is, it is a device that allows you to take video from really high in the air to really low in the air.  The one I built costs about $25.00, but if you have an old stand and access to a welder and some scrap metal, you could build it for well under $10.00.

The materials required to build it are:

2 2 by 2’s

various bolts

some scrap metal

a stand from an old utility light.

The two 2×2’s are connected to the pivot, camera end and operator end with 1/4” bolts and nuts. This system is simple yet effective. The brackets on the camera and operator side are exactly the same, and are made of thin sheet metal. I spot-welded the metal together at school. The central pivot point is made out of thick steel bar that has been bent into a rectangle. The two ends were mig welded together. If you do not have access to a welder, you could do the same with pop-rivets or screws. The central pivot point connects to the stand with a 1/4” bolt, as that was what the stand would accept. The stand was from an old utility light.

The LCD monitor is just a portable dvd player. I connected the video output of my video camera to the input of the dvd player. This allows me to see what I am doing. Sometimes the sun is too bright to see the screen, so I added a piece of cardboard to help make the screen viewable in direct sunlight.

Here are some pictures:

The finished crane at its highest point

The finished crane at it’s highest point

The finished crane

The finished crane

A close up of the central pivot point

A close up of the central pivot point

The operators end

The operator’s end

The camera end

The camera end

A close up of the pivot point on the ends.  Both the operator end and camera end use the same bracket.

A close up of the pivot point on the ends. Both the operator end and camera end use the same bracket.

This is my temporary counterweight.  I usually fill it with various heavy objects from around the garage.

This is my temporary counterweight. I usually fill it with various heavy objects from around the garage.

Here is a short video that shows it “swooping”:

42 thoughts on “DIY Camera Crane

  1. Thanks for this DIY. Very simple (if one can weld!)

    Great site overall, too. You seem to fill the introductory niche often missing in the DIY community. The CNC and this both give people the low-level tools necessary for larger projects.

    Keep up the good work.

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  9. This will be very handy indeed.
    I have been looking at other DIY sites, looking at how to build a steady cam device. The crane is definitely next on the list. I might not need it yet for my next project, but it will for sure come in handy one of these days.

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  12. This is a great project!
    I’m really interested in how you disassembled the videocam to place it on both ends. Can you perhaps give some instructions about that as well?

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  26. Wow, finally I found a solution for our low budget vidcasts. We have to achieve exactly this effects, but have no budget to rent a camera crane – but this is the proof we can do it – and thanks for the video :)!

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