We love to showcase clever DIY filmmaking hacks here, but every once in awhile, I get the hankering to do my own. When I was walking through the store the other day, I saw something in the clearance section that made me think …. I can turn that into a camera cage. And it was a Melon slicer. Think of it as an iOgrapher meets a Fig Rig. So, let’s build the Melon Cage!
Here’s what you’re going to need for your DIY Camera cage:
- A Melon Slicer. It’s basically an oversized apple slicer, but honestly, they were never good for cutting cantaloupes or watermelons. Much better to use as a camera cage. The hard plastic versions are about $13 on Amazon, about $10 at Walmart. But you can get a larger watermelon slicer for a few bucks more, or even a stainless steel model for around $40. But seriously, at that point, you may as well buy a real camera cage from Neewer. Anyway, the point is, it should have two handles and blades laid out in a circular array.
- 7 1/4-20 x 5/16 T-nuts. Do NOT get the pronged ones. They’re about $1.12 at Home Deport
- 6 1/4-20 1″ Internal Hex Socket Cap-Head Cap Screws (about $2). That’s what I had on hand, but you can use any 1/4-20 x 3/4″ screw here and save some cash.
- 6-7 washers (optional, as needed)
- 3 1/4″ Thread to Metal Flash Hot Shoe Mount Adapter for Studio Light Stand/Tripod
- 3 Camera Hot Shoe Mount to 1/4″-20 Tripod Screw Adapter Flash Shoe Mount for DSLR
- small plastic cutting board (optional). You can also use a piece of wood, or metal. Anything with the dimensions of approx. 6 3/4 x 1 1/2″. Your measurements may vary.
This is the basic parts list. You’ll also need a drill with a 5/16″ bit, some pliers and some epoxy or super glue. Total cost, depending on how much you pay for the Melon slicer, is under $30, easy.
- Yank out the blades. This was much easier than I thought it would be with a pair of pliers. You just give them a good tug and they should come right out. You’ll have to pull on each blade, and it may be a good idea to have a pair of gloves, just to prevent any accidental cuts from the sharp blades.
- Drill six holes. Take your drill, and 5/16″ bit and make six holes. Two top and bottom dead center, plus two in the center of the handle area (optional), and then two to the left and right of the top drilled hole.I will point out here, that I considered just drilling a 1/4-20 hole and then taping some screw threads in the plastic. But after doing so, I became convinced that the threads would eventually strip and would likely start cracking the plastic. So I decided to bring the T-nuts into the mix. They have the 1/4-20 steel threads, and that will last longer. You’ll just need to drill out the holes with the larger 5/16′ bit and epoxy them in place.Now if you’re just going to use this DIY cage hand held, like an iOgrapher, you can add the hot shoe adapters and shoe mounts, mount your camera on the bottom hole with a T-nut and bolt, and call it a day. But if you want to have the option to mount this cage on a tripod, then keep reading.
- Make a camera mount plate by cutting a 6 3/4 x 1 1/2 mounting plate from a cheap, plastic cutting board or similar material. (you can get them at the dollar store) or do what I did and 3d print one.
- drill 1/4-20 hole in the center by marking an “X” on the plate and drilling a hole where the lines intersect.
- Superglue or Epoxy the plate to the lower third of the Melon cage, using a level to make sure you have it glued straight.
- Add another T-nut to the hole, epoxying it in place. Note, I also added a small knob that had a 1/4-20 threaded rod in it, to tighten down my camera or smartphone mount.
And that’s it! Now, add mounting accessories, a microphone, a quick release mount, camera or smartphone, some small LED lights like the Lume Cube, even some magic arms. And you have a cheap, working DIY camera cage for under $25-30.
So what do you guys think? Leave a comment below with your suggestions, and if you build one, send us a link so we can see where you go with the Melon cage!