Homemade PVC Shoulder Rig

Posted on April 15, 2012

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Wrecked has its first official physical things!

Last night Dan, our DP, and I made this sweet shoulder rig. We mostly followed a tutorial by QUICK FX. (The information you’re looking for starts about a minute in.) It did skip over some steps that might not be so obvious to beginners, though, so I’m going to try to hit that here.

Here it is as just PVC bones. I was really lucky that I had Dan, who is crafty with this sort of thing. (He makes these crazy, beautiful steampunk lamps out of pipe fittings.) He had welded PVC before and knew the process, which is a little scary for about five seconds, because it’s fucking called welding, which sounds like it involves heat that can burn through you like butter and light that can make you go blind, not to mention a bunch of expensive equipment. If you go to the wikipedia page on plastic welding, though, you have to go all the way to the bottom, to solvent welding before you find the highly innocuous process you use in this project.

Welding PVC

You need to pick up some PVC Primer and Cement. Conveniently, Dan already had some, so this isn’t included in my price tag for the project. I would recommend, if this is the only PVC project you’re planning on working on, that you try to borrow some. If it doesn’t work out, don’t sweat it too much, neither one is going to run you much over $10.

The process for welding PVC is incredibly simple. You rub on the primer with the brush that comes in the tin, then you rub on the glue and you stick them together. That’s it. No pain, very little mess.

You want to get a nice, even coat of the primer, which is easy to see because it’s usually bright fucking purple. It’s okay to wait a little while after you put the primer on, but once you put the glue on, you need to stick those things together right away. You only have a few seconds before it starts to set. Be prepared to push and twist getting the pipes into the joiners, then line them up how you want them right away and hold them in place for a few seconds. It doesn’t take long, but I’ve found if you don’t hold them in, they want to squish out a teeny bit. No idea what’s happening chemically.

What’s in the conduit box?

The video skips over the rather important details regarding how and why/how a thumbscrew, two nuts and a spring hold your camera in place. You have to drill holes in the top and bottom, (not through the cover–check your axis,) which is another piece of equipment not included in our price tag. Make sure the holes will line up perfectly before you drill. If you don’t, the screw will come out at an angle and your camera won’t be able to mount straight.

Here’s what’s happening inside the box. This is really hard to make happen. I wound up using something (a scraper of some sort) to hold the spring against one side of the box and then slipped the nut in so that the holes lined up. After that, just thread the screw through and twist it a little ways into the nut. Then you can pull back, using the nut to compress the screw. This makes it really easy to get the second nut in there.

After they’re both on, size the mounting screw. Make sure it isn’t bottoming out in your camera–you want the camera to be pulled into the rubber a little bit for the nicest seal. Once you have it positioned so as much of it is going into the camera as can without hitting metal, tighten the screws against each other. This will hold them in place so you can turn your screw freely and it won’t change depth!

Wrapping it up

I am not a big fan of athletic tape for this. I think electrician’s tape is much nicer. It’s so shiny! Just look at it! I also chose to wrap the shoulder rest in handlebar tape. It’s tougher than athletic tape by far, but also smoother and with added give. It’s really the perfect stuff for the job. Plus, it’s made for wrapping and it does a sexy, sexy job of it. Just look at that! You can wrap the back of one made to the specs in the video perfectly with one package of tape, too, which just feels right.

Posted in: the theory stuff