Sunday, April 26, 2009

UmbrellaPod Redux

I've now built an UmbrellaPod, and I've modified my method slightly. My new method doesn't require destroying the umbrella, but it does require using a hacksaw to cut the PVC. I'm including a drawing below, with all parts labeled, but keep in mind that you do not need to follow my dimensions exactly. Also remember that the two 90 degree elbows are adjustable, and when using the UmbrellaPod, you will want them turned so the PVC Camera Mount is horizontal instead of vertical.

Parts Needed
All PVC Pieces are 3/4" Sch 40

A. One round end cap
B. Two slip tees
C. Two 90 degree slip elbows
D. One 4 foot pipe
E. One 14 inch pipe
F. One 2.5 inch pipe with a
1 inch by 1/4 inch slot cut
in the top and bottom
G. One umbrella
H. One PVC Camera Mount

(Not Pictured)
One 9 inch bungee cord
Two 1.75 inch sections of pipe (between the 90 degree elbows and the tee)

Here is the video version of the above.

Price: $10-15, if you don't already own an umbrella.
Build time: 20 minutes, mostly for cutting the notch in the PVC.
Availability of materials: Readily available.
Durability: As durable as the umbrella you use.
Functionality: A windy day may blow the umbrella around, making the image jerky, but it should work on a non-windy rainy day. Section D can be removed, turning it into a walk-around device.
Portability: About the same as a PVC monopod.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Brushing Alternative

So one time I was out camping by myself and didn't bring a toothbrush or toothpaste (too much of a hassle). On this trip, I also had a summer sausage, which I ate before going to bed. In the morning, my breath stunk so bad that I was grossing myself out!

Here's a quick alternative to brushing your teeth while out backpacking. Go to your local Wally World and pick up one of the dollar travel mouthwash bottles. Rinse and spit in the morning, rinse and spit at night. It may not be as good as brushing, but it will kill those bacteria, and eliminate the breath that can stop a bear at 50 paces.

And when you return to civilization, you can always refill the bottle for your next excursion.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Here's an idea I've had kicking around for a while. Go to your local dollar store and buy a cheap umbrella (not an automatic). Take off the handle, but leave the long neck tube. Slide the tube into a 1/2" or 3/4" PVC pipe, and connect like the diagrams show. Use the PVC Camera Mount (shown in blue) to connect the contraption to your camera (in dark grey), and there you have it.

There are two basic configurations. The first has the camera coming off a pole (in actuality, two pieces of PVC pipe divided by a T connector). The weight of the camera makes it front heavy, but it will allow you to turn the camera sideways for profile shots.

The second design puts the weight of the camera directly over the monopod pole, but it also eliminates the ability to turn the camera sideways.

And of course, you can eliminate the pole altogether and use it for mobile shots.

Price: Under $5.00, if you can find a dollar store umbrella.
Build time: 10 minutes, assuming the handle comes off the umbrella.
Availability of materials: Readily available.
Durability: The PVC is durable; if you buy a cheap umbrella, I doubt it will last too long.
Functionality: Having never built one of these, I can only speculate that with any sort of wind, the umbrella may go flying (once I actually build one, I'll see if I can think of an easy way to secure it). Other than that, I can see how this could come in very handy.
Portability: About the same as a PVC monopod.