This posting covers the making of an adapter to allow the use of a painter’s pole as a boom for a mic or flash.
While there are adapters that are commercially available, their cost, especially when shipping is figured in, is not at all attractive. (See here, here, here, here, and here.) Nothing will end up costing less than $20-25.
Earlier this week, I stopped at a Big Lots store on the way during lunch and found a $2 paint roller. The roller axle was just press fitted into the plastic handle. (While bolt shopping, I discovered that Home Depot had a similarly molded paint roller but theirs was molded in a different color and cost slightly more.) Looking down the inside of the roller handle, the inside diameter was about the same as the opening up until about an inch from the end. A bolt head could fit all the way down the handle and sit at the very bottom.
After purchasing the paint roller, I pulled the roller part out of the handle in the parking lot. It was jammed in there pretty well, taking some effort to remove, but it pretty much slid out. [If you try this at home, you will want to be sure that no one is around to hit when it comes free or that you won’t fall if it suddenly comes out and you weren’t braced for it. You have been warned.]
I used a 3/8″ drill bit to enlarge the hole in the handle. [Again, if you do this at home, the proper way is to use a vise so you don’t bore a hole in any body parts…] I dropped a 2.5 inch long 3/8″-16 bolt down the handle. Despite enlarging the hole, the bolt needed some persuasion (i.e., my dead blow hammer) to go all the way down the handle and seat at the bottom. On the end of the bolt, I threaded a mating nylon lock washer because it was the easiest way I could think of to prevent the bolt and nut from ever loosening. In order to tighten the nut all the way down, I had to shove a flat bladed screw driver down the hole in the handle against one of the flats on the bolt head. After tightening, nearly 1/2″ of threads were exposed. Here are photos of the new adapter handle.
Final Parts list (total cost, before tax: $2.86 with a left over nylon lock nut… So, I made two.) :
- paint roller (Big Lots $2, Home Depot $2.97)
- 3/8″-16 bolt, 2.5″ long (Home Depot $0.37)
- 3/8″-16 nylon lock nut (Home Depot $0.98)
Admittedly, it will not be as strong as the commercially-available machined aluminum, but the plastic handle is made from stiff but flexible plastic. So now, what can be done with this handle?
Here’s a photo of a 5/8″ spigot threaded onto the end of the adapter, siting atop a painter’s extension pole.
The spigot threaded onto the bolt end and was tightened snugly onto the end with pliers. Thread locking compound, as mentioned in one of the linked articles above, would ensure that the spigot does not loosen but I didn’t have any. It seems tight enough but I’ve not heavily loaded it down yet… That spigot end came with this umbrella swivel adapter:
As configured above, this adapter can be used to hoist the soft boxes I previously blogged about, which is one reason I wanted to make it. Another usage I have for this adapter is to allow using my Rode VideoMic at the end of a boom, either for some informal interviewing work or for some videos we have in the works. To mount the mic, I used one of the swivel ball head mounts I’d bought on eBay a long while back. The mount allows threading it onto 1/4″-20 with an included adapter or directly onto 3/8″-16 threads. Here is it mounted on the adapter:
While bolt shopping yesterday at both Walmart and Home Depot, I also stopped by the painter pole section at each. Walmart has cheaper poles all the way around but theirs are not nearly as long as the ones Home Depot carries and theirs seem to rattle a little more than those at Home Depot. (Rattling is a really bad thing when using it as a mic boom pole…) One important thing to keep in mind is how the threads at the tip of the painter pole are attached to the pole itself. Questions to keep in mind are: Can the end end up rotating in the mount hole? Will the threaded end bend or break with too much load? Will the end of the pole bend or break with too much load?
Since I already have a 4′ and a shorter extension pole, I did not buy anything. I will probably get two long ones next spring to use for taking a group photo like this. For this, I had used two 7′ light stands with umbrellas and a flash mounted at the top. I had my two sons working as voice activated light stands, but the legs on the stands were unwieldy and I would have liked some more height. These painter pole adapters, while not able to stand up on their own, will be easier to move around the pews and allow much more height.