A Firm Grip – Improving my Shoulder Rig

Assembling my new DIY shoulder rig with components from Zenit (Krasnogorsk-3 Pistol Grip and Telescopic Shoulder Brace), Manfrotto (088LBP Female 1/4″-20 to Male 3/8″ Adapter with Flange) and POOLi™ (D-BASE-2 and POOLiCAGE), I wasn’t fully satisfied with the fit between the grip and the base, even though I had drilled a new hole for the former to fit with its pin into the latter, as there still was some play and small sideways movement. On one of the Blackmagic forums some forum member had showcased his modification of the bakelite Krasnogorsk-3 pistol grip, using non-skid rubber pads (used on camera rig bases) glued to the top of the grip, with reported good results. The problem however was for me to find any such pads. Searching forums someone suggested using tape made from frabric or duct tape, similar to gaffer’s tape. I purchased one thinner tape at my local Clas Ohlson store, cut it into a lenght equal to the removable metal plate of the pistol grip, cutting out small holes for the pins and a larger one for the 3/8″ thread, using a scalpel. As the metal plate is slightly depressed below the top of the bakelite grip, I had to apply a total of two layers of tape to make it progress and create a good enough dampning. The result wasn’t convincing though and only mitigated the sideways play somewhat. I couldn’t forget about that first example of using non-skid rubber pads.

Removing the duct tape from the Krasnogorsk-3 grip

Doing some more Google searching on non-skid pads, I eventually ended up on the webpage of the Swedish car parts and hardware franchise, Biltema, who offers a variety of adhesive non-skid pads, including those made from plastic and rubber. It was the rubber variety that I was seaching for, based on the initial recommendations. Finally last evening, I payed a visit to one of the several Biltema shops that frequents my home town. I bought a set of domestically made pads, numbering 88 in total, made from three different materials, light brown cork, translucent plastic and black rubber; reviewing the contents made me convinced that it was the black rubber variety that was the most viable solution. Unpacking the concents I started grouping the contents into the circular cork, rubber and plastic pad varieties. The former two divides themselves further into two different sizes, Ø 12 and 18 mm, while the latter only presents the smaller size. The cork and rubber pads measures approximately 1.8mm in thickness. As noted above, I only had interest in the black elastic rubber type of non-skid pads, as these strongly resemble those used on professional camera rig bases and quick-release plates. I quickly removed the previously appled adhesive duct tape from the bakelite pistol grip. However, I have saved the cut-out tape for future use if necessary, in the case it dosen’t work out with the rubber non-skid pads.

A set of various non-skid pads manufactured and sold by Biltema

I have applied a total of three non-skid pads to the aluminum plate of the Krasnogorsk-3 pistol grip, one each of the Ø 12 and 18 mm diameter size, and a second of the larger size but cut into half using scissors to make it fit optimally, creating a crescent shape. The pads rise quite substantially from the top portion of the grip, although I have applied them to the depressed plate. When mounting the Krasnogorsk-3 pistol grip to the underside of the POOLi™ D-BASE-2, using the 3/8″ screw, there is a gap visible and the screw doesn’t turn inside the 3/8″ female thread of the D-BASE-2 all the way. Still it is screwed far enough. And although not removed entirely, the sideways play is markedly less compared to how I experienced it previously. Because of the thickness of the pads, the pins arent’t as salient as before, making the fit into the DIY drilled hole of the underside of the D-BASE-2 not as decisive as previously. But it still attaches to the hole good enough to stabilise the grip. As the pads create a natural damped counter action, this makes the attachement between the grip and base more pronounced. However, the joint feels more flexible and slightly movable, as is expected from a rubber dampening. Locking the screw far enough minimises this flexibilty, but doesn’t remove it entirerly. I did a test to apply the grip to the base removing the halfmoon non-skid pad, but that made the joint more unstable; the three point pad solution is the most stable solution to date. Although slightly thinner pads would have been more optimal, these will have to do as they create a good enough effect.

Applying rubber non-skid pads to the Krasnogorsk-3 pistol grip
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