I’m a tools guy. I like equipment. It doesn’t matter what for. It matters that I have the right tool for the right job. I’ll improvise if I have to. I’m no stranger to that. But there is nothing like the satisfaction of having just the right tool to help out in a situation. The exception to this is my specialized bike tools. They are annoying. Instead of being able to take my bike apart and put it back together with regular tools it seems I need a specialty tool for each part on my bike. I get no satisfaction from that.

I’m thinking of this because sometimes I’ve been known to come up with my own tool for a given situation. Just modifying something to make it more useful to me in a given situation. I’ve built a few things in my day. My easel comes to mind as it is sitting next to me but usually it’s smaller stuff. I’m not much of a craftsman though. I’m pretty good at figuring out how to build something but it doesn’t end up being very pretty. You’d think that would be the easy part for me since I’m an artist but I often have little patience for craft.

It’s funny what a person can have patience for and what not. I always think back to my youth and my complete impatience for model building. I have all the patience in the world for drawing and painting. I can spend hours getting those things done. Taking care of all the small steps and details is okay with me. But ask me to put together a model of a spaceship and I can’t do it. I don’t have the patience for that.

What I’ve been thinking about building lately is a tool for photography. Or maybe it’s videography. Either way it’s a better monopod. For those who don’t know a monopod is basically one leg of a tripod. A tripod is what you can put your camera on to keep it steady and in place instead of holding it. A tripod has three legs that spread out for stability and the camera screws into a small platform on top of and in the center of the three legs. A tripod has been a standard piece of photographers equipment for a hundred years.

Though I’ve had a tripod, the same one, since my college days back in the mid 1980s I only recently got a monopod. A monopod only has one leg with the platform on top that the camera screws onto. It’s there to help you steady the camera a little bit in situations where a tripod isn’t practical. I decided to get one a few years ago to help me with some low light street photos and to help with holding the camera steady while taking video. Especially if I was using the big zoom on my camera. The further out you are zoomed the more the camera shaking is noticeable. That’s the way of cameras.

The monopod I got is pretty cool. It goes from a foot and a half to nearly six feet tall. It has cool telescoping legs and a nice loop handle. As an object I really like it. As a tool not so much. The problem I have with it is that it seemed to make my problem of keeping the camera steady worse and not better.

I know how to hold a camera to keep it as steady as possible. I shoot from the waist looking down at the swivel LCD and hold the camera close to my body. Much like carrying a bowl of liquid your body will automatically try to hold the camera level and steady. And by using your whole body it will act as a bit of a shock absorber for the camera shake.

The problem I had with the monopod was that though it kept the camera from moving up and down it didn’t keep the camera from drifting left, right, backwards, and forwards. Unlike a tripod you have to hold a monopod with your hand and any small movement of your hand gets passed on to the camera. I couldn’t keep the camera as still on the monopod as off. That made it useless. I carried it on three or four street shooting occasions and it never proved useful once. So lately I’ve been thinking up some ways to make it useful.

First off it would be nice if it could stand on its own. I don’t want it to be a tripod but if I could put a small tripod or foot on the bottom of it that would be cool. I thought about a bunch of things to use as a foot but the best one to come to mind is the base of my bicycle pump. It’s made to stand on its own and even put your feet on as you pump. If I put something like that on the bottom of the monopod maybe it can stand on its own. Then I’d like it to rotate.

Turning the camera on the tripod is quite clumsy. That’s when it shakes left and right and turns too fast and not smoothly. That’s when it struck me that I might use a bike part to help out with that. I could use the axel from the front wheel of a bike. That turns smoothly with small ball bearings and can easily be turned vertical to match the monopod. Plus it’s solid with no top to bottom movement. That might work.

Of course this is all conjecture right now. It’s all in my head. I have no plans worked out nor have I gotten all the parts I need. Though I have an old bike tire I could use I don’t have an old bike pump to steal the foot from. Plus neither of those things may work so I’ll have to gather a bunch of parts.

But that’s what I’m thinking about. I want a new tool. And since it doesn’t exist I’ll have to come up with my own.