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Low cost counterweights...

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#1 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 10:45 AM

Here is yet another low cost counterweight idea that I know is already used by many as an alternative to costly counterweights.

Because of my additional AP gear on the scope side of my mount, my stock counterweight isn't enough to balance without sliding it WAY out to the end of the bar (and I want to keep my counterweights closer to the fulcrum). I looked online, and like everyone else, I think astro counterweights are way overpriced (and then there is the shipping added on).

 

So a friend of mine who has old barbell weights he doesn't use, brought in four of his 2.5 weights I can keep for free. They are nice and small in diameter (not much bigger than my stock counterweight).  I already have a lockable collar so I can sandwich however many weights I need between that collar and my existing counterweight to keep them mounted solidly. I just need to find a spacer to reduce the center hole down to the 20mm of the counterweight bar. I think I'll clean them up and paint them white to match.

 

They are 4 3/4" in diameter with a 1" center hole, and 5/8" thick.

 

EDIT: Already found the spacer. 1" PVC is almost a perfect fit inside and out. Also found a 20mm collar to lock them in place.

 

weights.jpg


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 22 March 2017 - 11:06 AM.

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#2 SteveG

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 04:24 PM

Let's see a pic when it's all painted and mounted up. Looks like it should work nicely!


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#3 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 05:43 PM

It works perfectly! The PVC slides over the counterweight bar perfectly. The weights are fixed to the PVC via hose clamps (on the outside of the counterweights). Turned out I only needed 3 of them, but I made the length of PVC long enough to add the fourth later if need be. You can see the remaining section of PVC sticking out of the top weight at the top of the bar (just beyond the hose clamp). The 20mm collar (in between the stock counterweight and the barbell weights) keeps the new barbell counterweights on the bar. Then my stock counterweight slides up to the other weights. Keeps all the counterweights closer to the mounthead! And because the barbell weights have a small outside diameter they easily clear my mounthead (and my controller when it's on there).

 

Just need to clean the weights up and paint them white. I'm thinking of replacing the collar bolt with an M6 bolt that has a knob on it to make it easier to tighten, although it's easy enough to tighten by hand as is. 

 

counterweight.jpg


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 22 March 2017 - 05:49 PM.

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#4 roscoe

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:10 AM

If this is looking like a semi-permanent system, you could epoxy the weights together, and to the PVC tube (rough the tube up first) and paint the whole thing white when the glue dries.... then you wouldn't need the hose clamp.

And if clearance is an issue needing watching, you could mount them outboard of the stock one.


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#5 RickV

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:28 AM

Good idea Mark... and well executed!

I love DIY solutions... that save $$.


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#6 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 09:34 AM

If this is looking like a semi-permanent system, you could epoxy the weights together, and to the PVC tube (rough the tube up first) and paint the whole thing white when the glue dries.... then you wouldn't need the hose clamp.

And if clearance is an issue needing watching, you could mount them outboard of the stock one.

That is exactly what I thought of doing! I'm not 100% sure I want all three together yet, but that definitely was my thinking as well. However the weight might change (scope side) if I remove the camera lens and use prime focus then I will have too much weight. I need to do some experimenting first. The hose clamps were more of an initial way to lock them together as needed, thus allowing for the removal or addition of individual 2.5 lb. weights, yet keeping them together on the PVC for removal as a group when setting up or tearing down. Kind of a modular weight set. 



#7 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 07:26 PM

One of the things I was thinking of was to somehow make this new counterweight set more manageable. For one thing, it's made of one to three weights. Each weight had a center hole of 1", but the counterweight shaft is only 20mm, so I had to slide a 1" PVC pipe through the centers. But I also needed some way of locking them together, as well as keeping them locked in place on the bar. I used hose clamps on the PVC that extended out either side of the combined weights. I also used 20mm steel collars on each end to keep the whole thing locked on the counterweight shaft. But that is at least three separate pieces to deal with. 

 

I wanted a way to have the weights be one unit (but still able to separate them as needed to provide different weight configurations). But I also wanted some way of locking them down onto the counterweight shaft like the stock counterweight does. Their diameter wouldn't allow a conventional locking bolt like the stock one. Or could they? Yes they could. 

 

I made this out of 1" PVC pipe and two fittings. One fitting slips over the 1" PVC pipe to provide a stop the weights would butt up against (the hex shaped part of the fitting). I glued that in place and then cut off all but about 1/4" of length of it, that stuck out the end. Then I got another PVC coupler that slips over that fitting (and butts up against the other side of the hex shape part of the first fitting). This PVC coupler's interior dimensions also matches the outside diameter of my 20mm (I.D.) steel locking collar. I then glued this coupler over the other PVC fitting and cut the length of it to match the depth of the steel collar that fits inside it. Then I drilled a hole into the side of the PVC coupler, so a longer M6 bolt with a knob on it could be inserted through the PVC coupler's side and into the steel collar's threaded hole. 

 

So here's the PVC shaft and locking collar as an all-in-one unit.

 

weight-adapter1.jpg

 

I wrapped a little tape around the outside of the steel collar for a snug fit and inserted it into the PVC coupler opening (and lined up it's threaded hole with the hole drilled into the side of the PVC coupler). With the bolt in it, the collar cannot come out and it allows me to lock down this unit onto the counterweight shaft (as the bolt goes through the PVC and the steel collar).

 

weight-adapter4.jpg

 

The weights can be added as needed (anywhere from one to three of them, slid over the 1" PVC pipe) and locked onto this unit via one hose clamp. Now the entire set of individual counterweights can be easily slid on and off as one solid unit and it's adjustable and lockable, just like the stock one. Cost me less than $3 total.

 

Now I just have to paint the ugly old weights. wink.gif

 

weight-adapter2.jpg


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 23 March 2017 - 08:07 PM.

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#8 mich_al

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 07:47 PM

Nice.  I'd keep an eye on the PVC (plastic) for damage as time goes on and what about when the shaft goes past horizontal

.  I can see a possible commercial product here.  Telescope weights are overly expensive to both buy and ship.  Barbell weights are cheap and plentiful at every sports resale shop in the country.  Adding something like you have here sure solves a problem.  I'd buy one / some.



#9 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:03 PM

Nice.  I'd keep an eye on the PVC (plastic) for damage as time goes on and what about when the shaft goes past horizontal

.  I can see a possible commercial product here.  Telescope weights are overly expensive to both buy and ship.  Barbell weights are cheap and plentiful at every sports resale shop in the country.  Adding something like you have here sure solves a problem.  I'd buy one / some.

Thanks. Well, for as cheap as this is, it is easily replaceable. It cost me less than $3 and took almost an entire 20 minutes to make. wink.gif

 

Really there is no stress to the PVC unit. The pipe only acts as a sliding spacer between the weights and the counterweight shaft. The weights butt up against the PVC fitting and that's glued in place (the PVC glue actually melts/fuses the PVC together as one solid piece). There is no real weight or pressure placed on the PVC around the locking bolt because there is the 20mm steel collar embedded into the end of the PVC coupler and the bolt threads into that steel collar, not the PVC. So really the only place the counterweights are placing any stress on the unit, is on the solid steel collar. It really is quite solid and acts as one piece. 

 

It won't matter if it goes past horizontal. You can't see it in the pic, but there is a hose clamp on the other side of the weights (EDIT: I now use a split steel collar in place of the hose clamp). The weights sit against the PVC hex fitting on one end, with a hose clamp on the other (making it possible to use one, two or all three weights depending on need). Once the weights are on the unit and locked in place with the hose clamp, the unit's locking knob keeps the whole thing in place on the counterweight shaft just like the stock counterweight does. 

 

As to it being commercially viable, I think it depends on how standardized the hole diameter is through the various barbell weights and the diameter of counterweight shafts. I just happened to luck out that the inside and outside diameters of all the parts fit perfectly.


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 24 March 2017 - 11:44 AM.


#10 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 10:07 AM

If anyone is interested in how the weight mounting unit was made, I'll try to explain it. It's really easy and cheap to make. Of course this only works with counterweight shafts of 20mm. Larger diameter holes in barbell weights might require alternative ideas to reduce the hole size (i.e. - filled with epoxy or JB Weld and then drilled out to 1", for example), whereas different diameter counterweight shafts will require different sized PVC pipe and fittings.

 

Here's a list of parts...

 

A - 1" (O.D.) PVC. Has a 3/4" I.D. (perfect slip fit over the 20mm counterweight shaft).

B - 1" (I.D.) 1.25" O.D. PVC fitting (with hex head, for the barbell weight stop on one end).

C - 1.25" (I.D.) PVC coupler.

D - 20mm solid steel collar with lock screw.

E - M6 bolt with knob (threads into 20mm steel collar as the unit's locking mechanism on the counterweight shaft)

F - 1" (I.D.) Split steel collar (for locking the other end of the weights after they are slipped on the PVC pipe (A).

 

weight-unit.jpg

 

1. Using PVC glue (which melts/fuses the PVC parts together), glue A into B.

2. Cut B (with A glued into it) off so it is about 1/4" long (beyond the hex flange, about where the black arrow is). 

3. Then glue B into C.

4. Cut down the length of C so that the steel collar (D) can just fit into the depth of C (about where the black arrow is).

5. Test fit the steel collar (D) into C and mark on the side of C where you can drill a hole that matches the threaded hole in D.

6. Wrap enough electrical tape around D (leaving a gap where the threaded hole is) so that D fits snuggly into C.

7. Insert the steel collar (D), wrapped in tape, into C. (make sure the threaded hole lines up with the hole in the side of C.

8. Thread the M6 bolt with the knob (E) through the hole in C and into the threaded hole in the steel collar (D).

9. Cut the PVC pipe (A) to the desired length (to allow as many weights as you want to slide onto it).

10. Allow enough length of the PVC pipe (A) to extend out beyond the last weight placed onto A (for F to fit over it). 

11. Place the split steel collar (F) over A tight down to the last weight, and tighten. 

 

Now you'll have a self-contained, single weight unit that is made of several separate weights (as needed) that can be easily mounted, removed or adjusted as if it were a single stock counterweight, for a fraction of the cost of a typical counterweight. 

 

weight-adapter1.jpg


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 24 March 2017 - 11:39 AM.

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#11 havasman

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 11:34 AM

High class creativity, top rank result. Big props for "open sourcing" your design.


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#12 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 11:43 AM

High class creativity, top rank result. Big props for "open sourcing" your design.

Thanks. I appreciate that. There are so many ways to affix barbell weights to counterweight shafts. I just wanted something that made it simple to add, remove or adjust (and lock down) the counterweights as a single unit (that can still be modular by adding/removing individual weights to the mounting unit itself rather than the counterweight shaft). 

 

I'm happy to share the idea. 


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 24 March 2017 - 11:45 AM.


#13 tony_spina

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 12:54 PM

If anyone is interested in how the weight mounting unit was made, I'll try to explain it. It's really easy and cheap to make. Of course this only works with counterweight shafts of 20mm. Larger diameter holes in barbell weights might require alternative ideas to reduce the hole size (i.e. - filled with epoxy or JB Weld and then drilled out to 1", for example), whereas different diameter counterweight shafts will require different sized PVC pipe and fittings.

 

Here's a list of parts...

 

A - 1" (O.D.) PVC. Has a 3/4" I.D. (perfect slip fit over the 20mm counterweight shaft).

B - 1" (I.D.) 1.25" O.D. PVC fitting (with hex head, for the barbell weight stop on one end).

C - 1.25" (I.D.) PVC coupler.

D - 20mm solid steel collar with lock screw.

E - M6 bolt with knob (threads into 20mm steel collar as the unit's locking mechanism on the counterweight shaft)

F - 1" (I.D.) Split steel collar (for locking the other end of the weights after they are slipped on the PVC pipe (A).

 

weight-unit.jpg

 

1. Using PVC glue (which melts/fuses the PVC parts together), glue A into B.

2. Cut B (with A glued into it) off so it is about 1/4" long (beyond the hex flange, about where the black arrow is). 

3. Then glue B into C.

4. Cut down the length of C so that the steel collar (D) can just fit into the depth of C (about where the black arrow is).

5. Test fit the steel collar (D) into C and mark on the side of C where you can drill a hole that matches the threaded hole in D.

6. Wrap enough electrical tape around D (leaving a gap where the threaded hole is) so that D fits snuggly into C.

7. Insert the steel collar (D), wrapped in tape, into C. (make sure the threaded hole lines up with the hole in the side of C.

8. Thread the M6 bolt with the knob (E) through the hole in C and into the threaded hole in the steel collar (D).

9. Cut the PVC pipe (A) to the desired length (to allow as many weights as you want to slide onto it).

10. Allow enough length of the PVC pipe (A) to extend out beyond the last weight placed onto A (for F to fit over it). 

11. Place the split steel collar (F) over A tight down to the last weight, and tighten. 

 

Now you'll have a self-contained, single weight unit that is made of several separate weights (as needed) that can be easily mounted, removed or adjusted as if it were a single stock counterweight, for a fraction of the cost of a typical counterweight. 

 

weight-adapter1.jpg

Mark

Where did you buy the 20mm solid steel collar with lock screw?


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#14 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 12:58 PM

 

 

Mark, Where did you buy the 20mm solid steel collar with lock screw?

 

At the Ace hardware, where I work. It's in the metric section of the fasteners department. It had a recessed M6 screw in it, but I didn't want to be fiddling with a hex wrench in the dark or a tiny screw, so I bought a longer M6 bolt with an attached knob. 



#15 tony_spina

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 03:21 PM

Thanks Mark!


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#16 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 10:52 AM

Weights are painted and drying...

 

3weights.jpg



#17 Herr Ointment

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 01:16 PM

Nice job!

 

Here's another homemade counterweight idea.......

 

cn44.jpg

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#18 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 March 2017 - 01:50 PM

My new low cost counterweights are completed and mounted. I got rid of the hose clamp and used a 1" steel split collar. But the 1" PVC pipe was just a tad over 1" so I sanded it down just where the collar slips on, then tightened it down to keep the weights on the sliding unit. I also wrapped a bit of electrical tape around the 1" PVC to make the weights fit snug over the PVC pipe to eliminate the tiny bit of slop.

 

All in one counterweight unit...

 

weights-collar.jpg

 

Mounted...

 

weights-done.jpg


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#19 starbase25

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 12:47 AM

My new low cost counterweights are completed and mounted. I got rid of the hose clamp and used a 1" steel split collar. But the 1" PVC pipe was just a tad over 1" so I sanded it down just where the collar slips on, then tightened it down to keep the weights on the sliding unit. I also wrapped a bit of electrical tape around the 1" PVC to make the weights fit snug over the PVC pipe to eliminate the tiny bit of slop.

 

All in one counterweight unit...

 

weights-collar.jpg

 

Mounted...

 

weights-done.jpg

Very well done!  Looks great! grin.gif


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#20 SkyCruzr

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:04 PM

My new low cost counterweights are completed and mounted. I got rid of the hose clamp and used a 1" steel split collar. But the 1" PVC pipe was just a tad over 1" so I sanded it down just where the collar slips on, then tightened it down to keep the weights on the sliding unit. I also wrapped a bit of electrical tape around the 1" PVC to make the weights fit snug over the PVC pipe to eliminate the tiny bit of slop.

 

All in one counterweight unit...

 

weights-collar.jpg

 

Mounted...

 

weights-done.jpg

Looks good! But, where is the coordinating red stripe?? Ya know, factory look and all.


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#21 csrlice12

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 02:11 PM

Could paint the middle weight red....


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#22 Geo.

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 11:26 AM

I'd epoxy a section of the pvc in weight to give me flexibility. A little filler will take care of the gaps. Both my foster son and sister gave me their weight sets and you'll often find them cheap at Goodwill.



#23 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 12:16 PM

I'd epoxy a section of the pvc in weight to give me flexibility. A little filler will take care of the gaps. Both my foster son and sister gave me their weight sets and you'll often find them cheap at Goodwill.

I have all the flexibility I could have. I can use one, two or all three weights as needed. They are only locked on with the split steel collar. The problem with using individual weights separately is dealing with taking them on and off, and adjusting them when they are placed directly on the counterweight shaft. This way, you place however many you want on the unit, then put the weighted unit (as one piece) on the counterweight shaft. Only one thing to lock down or adjust, yet it's modular in weight. 



#24 tschleif22

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 05:32 PM

Good idea Mark.
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#25 tschleif22

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 06:50 PM

Great idea Mark


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