DIY Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer Made On the Cheap

Physics guru David Prutchi recently came across a line of professional grade gyroscopic camera stabilizers by Kenyon Laboratories. They cost thousands of dollars each, but Prutchi noticed that the designs hadn’t changed much since they were first patented in the 1950s. He then set out to create his own DIY version using low-cost gyroscopes from His finished device (shown above) actually helps stabilize his DSLR when shooting video or when photographing with non-image-stabilized lenses.

Here’s a short video demo showing what it does for unstable handheld video recording:

While it certainly doesn’t go toe-to-toe with the professional-grade stabilizers, it’s neat that this kind of thing can be built on the cheap and at home. If you want to try your hand at making your own, Prutchi has written up a step-by-step guide of what he did.

DIY Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer that Really Works! (via Make)

  • Nicholas Butler

    on or off it looks the same.. thats horrible..

  • Alejandro2012

    Yeah, no big difference… :(

  • N1ght Crawler

    A simple DIY steady cam had been better.

  • Titus-Armand

    Wow that’s bad. I actually think the “stabilized” version looks worse than the non-stabilized one. It’s got sharper, more sudden moves that look very unnatural. Not to mention that goddamn noise…

  • jdm8

    You’re right on the money.  The effect isn’t so great, then it sounds like the mechanism makes such a racket.  Steadicams don’t use gyros, it’s usually a needless complication at best, a pandora’s box of problems at worst.  That isn’t to say there isn’t value in a gyroscopic stabilizer, but those are usually found in vehicular rigs.

  • Guy Mullins

    Should those gyros not be at 90 degrees to one another to stabilize horizontal as well as vertical motion?

  • Adam Emter

    Yeah, I’m sorry but this is the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a while. Nothing against the inventor, but that’s just bad on all levels.

  • Alexey Sviridov

    I saw somewhere a similar structure. Instead there was a gyro has two existing computer hard disk perpendicular to each other.

  • perceptionalreality

    The noise is a deal-breaker. And the results aren’t actually very impressive. I was hoping for better. The most basic galvanized pipe and counterweight design works better than this. :( 

  • Thechew

     It certainly goes toe to toe with nothing…

  • destroy_all_humans

    i probably wouldnt have shared this result

  • I’m so rich!

    I’d rather just pony up the 500 grand for a Cineflex system

  • Dennis Marciniak

    I agree.

    I think what is happening here is that we’re used to seeing a little natural handshake.. especially online. When a mechanical device tries to overcompensate for that handshake we get these jagged motions that looks super unnatural.

    Other theories?

  • Renato Murakami

    What your video would look like if shot by Big Dog

  • Pablo Cocito

    Sounds like he is being followed by a swarm of bees… 

  • Les Baldwin

    There is a reason the Kenyon labs is the #1 gyro maker for photo / video systems.
    The cameras on cables seen at football games, and air to air work are some of the biggest users of this technology. The biggest downside of Kenyon Labs gear is the weight and size of the gyros, they are huge, and weigh a ton. I’ve used them for air to air work, they are great, but beefy, and expensive.

  • Jon Geilen

    Man A HaloRig MINI from would have actually made a difference.. Its cheap and lightweight!

  • Francine Racette

    I think he purposely shook the camera in the first video so his invention wouldn’t look too bad.

  • Kenyon Gyro

    Your statement couldn’t be more incorrect! Here is an excerpt from The ASC magazine:

    Dennis Muren pointed out that he wasn’t necessarily after the usual perfectly smooth tracking shots, as seen in the space sequences for Empire. He had been half looking for a new, less rigid, more realistic style; and he indicated that a small amount of roughness would perhaps be desirable in a chase near the ground, which might then feel as though it was shot from a pursuing aircraft. This was encouraging. I had once before, on the ill-fated Heretic, produced a 38-frame hold of sufficient stillness for an effect matted over the open mouth of James Earle Jones even after a violent 100 yard running shot. I began to think that it could be done. One of the early Steadicam prototypes actually incorporated a Kenyon gyro stabilizer, which is an amazing device, but which was ultimately dropped from my plans due to noise and power problems and because it tended to resist rapid panning moves. In this case, however, it could be used to artificially increase the inertia of the system in at least two axis, and would perhaps make the difference between success and failure. I suggested that we acquire at least one Kenyon gyro and attach it to the spar of the Steadicam.

    April 12, 1982 found us chugging along the corridors of ILM, gyro humming, with my camera being run by a little outside motor at roughly 3/4 fps, and with 100 feet aboard of a test stock that could be processed and viewed immediately right in the building. The results were instantly encouraging, and by the end of the following day, we were testing large-scale shots within a local redwood forest, having worked out nearly all of the curious requirements for producing acceptable plates with the Steadicam.

    Some of the more “famous” steadicam operators use 2 gyros to aid the steadicam’s stability. You can ask Larry McConkey, Brady Romberg, Mark O’Kane or any number of reputable steadicam operators.

  • JD929

    Depending on what you are saying I’m wrong about. You’re talking about an part added by the user, not something that’s built into the product.

  • Conshas

    naw man..this ain’t gonna work.