Create a Car Monopod
The Horicon Marsh area is getting another 9-11 inches of snow today. The wind chills tomorrow will be 20-30 degrees below zero. What a great weekend to work on an indoor photography project.
I use a monopod I created that fits in the drink holder of my car. I use it when my car is a blind and I’m shooting from the driver’s side out the passenger side window. This has improved the sharpness of my photos and it gives my arms relief. Six pounds of camera and lens gets heavy when I am holding them out to the side for long periods of time. The project is around $10 (minus the ball head) for materials and it is easy to assemble.
PVC pipe, 2 foot long piece of 2 inch diameter pipe
PVC end cap
Tread Wheels, 2 inch by ¾ inch with a 3/8 inch hole
Tread Wheels, 2.5 inch by ¾ inch with a 3/8 inch hole
Bolt, 3/8 inch, 3.25 inches long, threaded
Durable piece of cloth, mine is 9 inches by 12 inches
Rubber bands (2)
Ball head of your choice
Wrench, 9/16 inch
I bought a 2 foot piece of 2 inch diameter PVC pipe from Menard’s then cut it to the length I needed. Take into account the top cap with tripod head and the depth of your drink holder. My final piece of pipe is 19 inches long. The length of yours may be different, based on your height. The total length of my car monopod with the ball head and end cap is about 24 inches. Put the end cap on.
Tread Wheels are available at Hobby Lobby. The 2.5 inch wheels are a perfect base for my ball head which has a 2.3 inch diameter base. The 2 inch wheels fit perfectly inside the PVC pipe. I used 2 of the 2 inch wheels so the ball head piece would fit securely in the pipe. I used 3 washers to take up the leftover space. The bolt I used is a 3/8 inch bolt so it screws into the base of my ball head which has a 3/8”-16 tripod mount thread size. You may need to adjust this if your tripod mount thread size is different. Conveniently, the tread wheels have pre-drilled 3/8 inch holes. I put the 3 washers on the bolt, then 2 of the 2 inch wheels, then 1 of the 2.5 inch wheels, and screwed the end into the ball head base.
When I travel, I take the top piece off and lay the 2 pieces on the passenger seat. It is easy to pop the pipe into the drink holder and put on the top piece with the ball head and I am ready to shoot.
I tried putting some weather stripping over the end cap. Moving the pipe around in the drink holder caused the weather stripping to shift and it left a sticky residue in my drink holder. I covered the weather stripping with a durable piece of fabric and it works well. The weather stripping and fabric give a little cushion and helps the pipe to fit snuggly in the drink holder.
When the weather warms up, we are ready to shoot from the car.
If you have ideas about how to improve this project, please share them in the comments section.
Lisa, what a great idea. You are so creative!
Thank you, Jerry! You are too kind!
I was thinking…is there a way to make a cold weather version? For example, something that would allow you to shoot from the car if it’s 30 below zero? Or should a photographer just call it a day at that point?
That’s a good question, Jerry. I can shoot for a while with the passenger side window open with the car not running in cold weather. I also use fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm and wear a warm jacket. Personally, if it is 30 below zero it is too cold for me and I stay home!