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making a first jump into "Franken rigs"


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#1 Blair Phillips

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 02:51 PM

I noticed that a huge number of operators seem to have "franken rigs": XCS parts mixed into a pro sled, combination CP II/III arms, modified wiring etc.

Where does one learn to do this sort of thing with such an expensive and potentially delicate piece of equipment?
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#2 RonBaldwin

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 03:23 PM

I noticed that a huge number of operators seem to have "franken rigs": XCS parts mixed into a pro sled, combination CP II/III arms, modified wiring etc.

Where does one learn to do this sort of thing with such an expensive and potentially delicate piece of equipment?



off the bat some buy the parts they want and make them all work together (not hard with pro/xcs). Some start with a particular sled and upgrade components when needed/wanted. Some buy a sled and stick with it. It's all about preference, what works for you (and what you can afford!). I can't stress enough how great it is nice to have options and good customer support.

It's not hard to look around the forum or on behind the scenes videos to see what most end up using and sticking with -- it'll tell you what really works the best and what is the lowest maintenance rig/components.

rb
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#3 Douglas John Kropla

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 09:55 AM

Hey Blair,
some people like to tinker. Just like a person who works on their own car same thing. Although not too many cars these days allow for that kind of backyard tinkering. Pickup a book on electronics or just head over to homebuiltstabiliser.com and read through some of the forums. Building and machining a pro sled can be done, with time and attention to details. Piecing a rig together from pro components is not that hard since most of them adhere to an industry standard for many things, ie; electronics and standardized tubing dimensions for the post and other components. Although there are some differences between manufacturers it still is pretty easy, with the right knowledge going in. Read read read. When in doubt... read some more:)

Just like getting under the hood of a car and ripping stuff apart, putting it back together hopefully in the right order, building a rig gives you a better understanding of what's going on in there and a better idea of how to fix something if it breaks, maybe. Not that you would do this onset. All in all piecing together a Franken Rig is like customizing a car, some do it some don't.

Cheers.
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#4 Charles Papert

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 04:31 PM

To add to this, ops who have been around for a while tended to start with older rigs that begged for various upgrades and if you consider that those being pre-internet days, it wasn't like you could find every solution with a mouseclick. Customizing rigs was born as much out of frustration and a need to improve one's everyday tool as it was out treating this like a hobby or sport.
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#5 Blair Phillips

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 09:58 PM

To add to this, ops who have been around for a while tended to start with older rigs that begged for various upgrades and if you consider that those being pre-internet days, it wasn't like you could find every solution with a mouseclick. Customizing rigs was born as much out of frustration and a need to improve one's everyday tool as it was out treating this like a hobby or sport.


Makes sense. I ask because I just got an EFP and the fact that the batteries do not move easily is annoying. One of the first thing I will do when this rig starts bringing me some money is to get some sort of mod to fix that.
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#6 Charles Papert

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 07:29 PM

Steadyrig makes a plug and play mod for the EFP. Or you can easily build a rod system which will give you even more flexibility.
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#7 J. Christopher Campbell

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 10:51 PM

I noticed that a huge number of operators seem to have "franken rigs": XCS parts mixed into a pro sled, combination CP II/III arms, modified wiring etc.

Where does one learn to do this sort of thing with such an expensive and potentially delicate piece of equipment?


from one newbie to another...

Blair, I finally (after 4+ years of trying) pieced my first rig together last April. I got a used Pro I sled (unmodified serial no. 128), a used IIIA arm that Rob Luna had already upgraded to 63 lbs, and a brand new Pro vest. When I got my rig, I knew nothing about the building and the tinkering side of this business.

Well, in less than 9 months, all of that has changed (and mostly out of necessity). As problems have come up on set, and living in Atlanta where we don't have George Paddock or Gregg Bubb right down the street, I have been forced to solve them (with help from the steadicam community of course).

I learned to solder and now can solder simple cables (I learned on the Radio Shack counter 4 hours before call time while making a box that would power my bartech from 8 AA batteries - glad those days are behind me), I have ripped into my top stage to fix a set screw issue that wasn't allowing me to trim fore and aft (while on top of a mountain mind you), I have replaced my center post with a two stage, tool-free, carbon fiber post, I have replaced my gimbal housing with a tool-free version, I have replaced my upper j-box, I have built and soldered my own photocell tally light the day before a shoot (again at radio shack), and today I had to rip my gimbal apart on set because it stopped panning in low mode.

My point is, that as you do gigs you will find things on your rig that have to be changed. You will find yourself coming up with ideas to fix problems and to make things better. And solutions are possible because of the amazing network of people on this forum (and in your city). My local operators here (Roman Engle and Alfeo Dixon especially) have been crucial to my tiny successes thus far.

So, don't fear if you aren't a tinkerer yet... bc you will be. It's how steadicam was invented in the first place.

Edited by J. Christopher Campbell, 16 January 2011 - 10:53 PM.

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#8 Blair Phillips

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 10:57 PM

Steadyrig makes a plug and play mod for the EFP. Or you can easily build a rod system which will give you even more flexibility.

Plug and play...It's a trap!

how much does it go for if you can recall?
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#9 RonBaldwin

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:48 AM

To add to this, ops who have been around for a while tended to start with older rigs that begged for various upgrades and if you consider that those being pre-internet days, it wasn't like you could find every solution with a mouseclick. Customizing rigs was born as much out of frustration and a need to improve one's everyday tool as it was out treating this like a hobby or sport.


Makes sense. I ask because I just got an EFP and the fact that the batteries do not move easily is annoying. One of the first thing I will do when this rig starts bringing me some money is to get some sort of mod to fix that.


I think there used to be a kit that added some spacers to move the batt plate back...hitting Home Depot for some spacers/longer screws might not be the best option (or adjustable) but will get the rig a lot closer to where it should be for under $5. Charles' idea of using rods is a good one. You'll have to call Hugo or check his site to see what he has as far as efp retro-fittting -- http://www.steadyrig.com/

I remember when the efp came out...it was a big deal that the cables were down the post. And with no electronics in the bottom it proved that a battery on a stick was all that we really needed (that and a stand alone green screen...hello George Paddock!).
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#10 JimBartell

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 12:37 PM

I remember when the efp came out...it was a big deal that the cables were down the post. And with no electronics in the bottom it proved that a battery on a stick was all that we really needed (that and a stand alone green screen...hello George Paddock!).


I always found it amusing that in one of the advertising posters for the EFP in the conference room at Cinema Products the operator wearing the rig was.....(wait for it)..........George Paddock.

Jim Bartell
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#11 RonBaldwin

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:38 PM

I remember when the efp came out...it was a big deal that the cables were down the post. And with no electronics in the bottom it proved that a battery on a stick was all that we really needed (that and a stand alone green screen...hello George Paddock!).


I always found it amusing that in one of the advertising posters for the EFP in the conference room at Cinema Products the operator wearing the rig was.....(wait for it)..........George Paddock.

Jim Bartell


I remember that. I think he made a kit for the efp to do just what we are talking about. A few years later (92/93-ish?) the mystery sled appeared that needed a cp gimbal, arm and vest.
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#12 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:44 PM

I remember when the efp came out...it was a big deal that the cables were down the post. And with no electronics in the bottom it proved that a battery on a stick was all that we really needed (that and a stand alone green screen...hello George Paddock!).


I always found it amusing that in one of the advertising posters for the EFP in the conference room at Cinema Products the operator wearing the rig was.....(wait for it)..........George Paddock.

Jim Bartell


I remember that. I think he made a kit for the efp to do just what we are talking about. A few years later (92/93-ish?) the mystery sled appeared that needed a cp gimbal, arm and vest.



Yup he made the EFP Battery relocation pegs to make the efp capable of achieving dynamic balance
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#13 Douglas John Kropla

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:59 PM

WOW Blair,
already into a bigger rig! What happened to the Flyer? I have to agree with Charles Papert on the rods idea. The thing from Steadyrig looks good though. Who or where did you get the EFP from?
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#14 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 07:08 PM

Steadyrig makes a plug and play mod for the EFP. Or you can easily build a rod system which will give you even more flexibility.

Plug and play...It's a trap!

how much does it go for if you can recall?


Hi everyone
I don't think you can get anymore flexible then the Steadirigs base apart from tilting the batteries .If you know how to solder and do your own machining then fine . You have to look at how long that will take you to make compared to plug and play Yes it will cost you a few grand but you will be working (making money)with your rig the day you get the base and it will last a long time and the resale value will be there as well .
just my 2 cents ps Here is a still of another op's EFP upgrade .
Good luck
Louis

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#15 Blair Phillips

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 04:36 PM

Thanks for the input guys. After seeing how much a kit would cost, I got on a bus and went to a hardware store. one aluminum rod, 4 wingnuts and 1' steel strapping later and she slides in and out like a good girl. It takes four turns of the wing-nuts, which is 3 more than I would like, but after dropping all my money on a rig the price is right!
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