How to make a ~$25.00 Steadicam for your hand held camera. Starting with a parts list of things I purchased from Lowes.
Total: $27.33 if you purchase everything. Most people will have at least one of these laying around
I also purchased some 1/4" x 1/2" screws but ended up not using them.
First Step. Cut the shaft on the paint roller. This is what the universal joint will attach to and be the handle for our Steadicam. I chose to cut it fairly short but you may choose any length you wish.
Next step. Mix up some J-B Kwik and use it to attach the universal joint to the handle and also one of the 3" screws inside of the 11mm socket. You might need to shave/sand the edge of the screw head to get it to fit. If you have an extra 1/4″ nut then you can have it inside of the socket to add additional strength and straightness to the screw. The handle will clip into the socket and the camera will also screw onto this same screw from the top.
I used my hands and curved the aluminum stock into this shape. Insert the socket/screw through the hole in the top and tighten a nut down onto it. Drill a hole on the bottom and use the second 3″ screw to attach several of the washers. This will act as a counter weight for your camera and keep the whole system level and upright.
After playing around with bending the metal and different holes/number of washers I found this configuration to be the best for my handheld camera. I cut the rest of the aluminum off with a hacksaw. I still drilled multiple holes so that I may adjust the balance of the whole configuration later. Also you can see that you do not have to remove the nut in order to add/remove washers on the fly. Between the holes/washers and being able to bend the aluminum, this system is extremely adjustable.
Cut the screw sticking out of the socket. Remember that you can always cut off more later so don’t chop off to much to begin with. Also if you thread a nut past where you cut, when you make your cut and unscrew the nut then all of the threads will be realigned.
Here is a close up of the universal joint, socket, and cut screw. I chose to put two nuts on top so that I can orient my camera and tighten the nut from below to hold it in that position. For a cheap DIY 25 dollar steadicam I am extremely impressed with the results.