Homemade Panoramic Head - Improvements

With use it became clear that a number of obvious improvements could easily be made. Some of these were also suggested by other panographers, especially the very helpful folks on the PTMac discussion forums. Since my usual mode of making things entails continual evolution by improvement of the weakest link, it seemed natural to document these changes in a separate page rather than continually re-writing the main panohead description. Here is my panohead before and after the current round of improvements.

Homemade Panoramic Head version 1      Homemade Panoramic Head version 2

Several changes have been made, these include:

1) Addition of another countersunk hole on the elbow arm to accomodate a different lens.
2) The upright section has been turned around by 180°. This enabled the horizontal section to be shortened a bit.
3) A pin/hole stop device was added to the elbow joint for easy reproducible positioning at 90°, 0° and -90°.
4) A few cosmetic changes, such as filing off and polishing some of the sharp corners, were made.

Of these changes, the pin/hole stop is the most substantial. It involved replacement of the black knob and rubber gasket (pieces 17 and 18 in the original panohead description) with a small bearing (identical to piece 3 of the original), a belleville washer and a shiny domed nut, as follows:

Homemade Panoramic Head version 2

elbow and upright ...

Homemade Panoramic Head version 2

...with bearing ...

Homemade Panoramic Head version 2

...with belleville washer ...

Homemade Panoramic Head version 2

... with dome nut.

The black knob of the original needed to be replaced with something smaller because it interfered with the pin/hole mechanism. It proved necessary to discard the rubber gasket of the original design because it also got in the way of the pin/hole registry. This turned out to be a good thing, however, because when finger tight, the dome nut and belleville washer provide plenty of resistance to slippage. Besides, the old rubber gasket was just a bit too sticky for my liking. The pin holes were drilled with a 3/16" bit. I could not find a suitable wobble-free pin so I cut the drill bit with a Dremel and fashioned it into a removable pin.

The new orientation of the upright section on the horizontal arm meant that a new postioning hole had to be drilled. I took the opportunity of replacing the other black knob (the one that used to fasten the vertical and horizontal parts) with another dome nut.

While modifying the elbow joint it occurred to me that it would be trivial to make an interchangeable arm that would enable this tripod head to function as a gimbal head (à la Wimberley) for longer lenses. Since I had been planning on making such a device anyway I built a prototype, which works way better than I anticipated. So well in fact that I have scrapped plans for a separate gimbal head in favour of fine-tuning the gimbal arm.


The stuff on this page is intended to be informative rather than impressive.
If you find it useful or have suggestions for improvements, please let me know.
The design, words and pictures presented here are © Dr. Sean Parkin (2006/11/01)