Oct 2, 2008

DIY 3-axis ballhead tripod thingie (a.k.a The tennis-ballpod!)

Make a ballhead tripod out of nothing more than a tennis ball, a nut, and a can of pringles?

Ahhh what the mind of a cheap ass guy who's bored to death can cook up. I've always wanted one of those mini-tripod things that I could carry around in my pocket, but have been either too lazy or too cheap to actually buy one...well mostly just lazy. I'm not really a photography geek anyway.

'Nuff talk, let's get down to business. On with this unholy abomination, kinda-sorta dedicated to iekko and her new camera.

First here is the finished product.

Let's get started.

Let's go digging in your garage. We're looking for the following items.
  • one tennis ball
  • one tube that snugly fits the tennis ball, like a can of lay's stax (pringles seem to be a bit larger)
  • one 1/4" bolt (make sure it's got the right tread), a nut, a butterfly nut and a washer.
That's all!

Take the ball, and poke a hole in it using a knife or something. In retrospect it's better if the hole is actually a HOLE and not a cross cut like I did here.

I made two mistakes in the above step. Like I said, it's better if you can make a whole (roughly the size of the bolt, maybe a bit larger but not too large), and the second mistake being I opened it up too much. Be careful!

Next, insert the bolt head first into the hole. place a washed on top to snug it up a bit, and insert a nut. Tighten the nut as much as you can. And voila! the ball is done! (btw these tennis balls stink like ass when you open em up.. just a warning.

Now we move on to the can. Tape up the bottom. Use a piece of cardboard to plug it up if it already isn't. I'm not using a Lay's Stax can or anything, because I found this empty tube in which some badminton shuttles came it. This thing fits like a glove! Also, if you bought your tennis balls in a can, that is probably the best one to use for this. There are plenty of options out there, explore! find something you can use.

Cut the can up. The height of it should be somewhere between the center of the ball and the top. (ie, taller than it's radius, shorter than the diameter) In my case, the lid of the can was indented so I cut it up to the size of the diameter.

Not take the lid, and cut a hole in it so that it will fit the ball snugly on the top. you may need to give this a couple of tries to get it just right. don't worry it's well worth the effort.

And that's pretty much it! all you have to do now is put the ball in the can, the lid ON the can and tape/glue it to keep it in place. I chose to tape it because, well to be honest I didn't know how it'd turn out.

Now for the butterfly nut. You put this on the bolt , backwards. This is so that when you screw the camera on, you can unscrew the bolt towards the camera and make a snug fit. I couldn't find a butterfly nut so I used a regular nut instead.

That's it! you have yourself a tennis-ballpod! This thing turned out to be surprisingly versatile, and much better to use in practice than I had originally anticipated. The one pictured above gives me about 120 degrees of movement around the two horizontal axes and 360 around the vertical. Not too shabby.

You might want to add a little weight to the bottom to keep it from tipping over when the camera is tilted all the way over. As it is, it's able to support my point-and-shoot almost all the way without any problems. I wouldn't recommend using this with a bigger camera, although with better construction, it should easily be able to "handle it"


Anonymous said...

whoa man! a lifehacker worthing get featured on instructables-ish post. Wicked awesome! I'm building one right now. Using the can that the balls came in.

keyolhubey said...

this is wicked cool man, it comes pretty handy and good to carry in a travel bag.
i shall try one.

echo7 said...

nice dude nice! I'd make one but I don't know where to find the bolt.

Simon said...

Brilliant how-to. Keep 'em coming.

ie cco said...

whoa whoa whoaaaa awesome!! habeys ingay u rock at these stuff! v creative. i think i'm gonna do that when i get some free time =)
and thanx.

de Irresistible said...


Anonymous said...

my god man this is some awesome stuff! This is by far the most "creative" maldivian blog I've come across. It sure beats the crapshit out of that sissy shit that's so common nowadays.

keep up the good work. Get this on instructables, I'm sure you would get a lot of recognition for such and original idea.

Anonymous said...

good job!

Yaamyn said...

Inventive Einstein aren't you?! :p

Very good post. Keep it up!

andhu said...

always knew u had it in u to do stuff like this

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