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Makin a frontbox...


Matt Kelly
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Hey i'm home for the holidays and suddenly realized that I have a perfect opportunity to do some random work in dad's wood shop.   

 

Would any of you guys mind posting some reference measurements for...maybe the diameter of the marker holes and such in a regular frontbox?  I believe a standard slate is 11" x 9.5" -ish, but if it's a little more/less than 11" EXACTLY, please let me know.

 

I'm also curious if anyone knows where to get a front box bracket that's black with a red button on one side that slides horizontally for locking.  I hate the crap out of those purple don earl ones, but saw a guy with this red and black one once that was amazingly easy to get on and off.... like easier than a non locking one.  i can't find it!!

 

Anyway, if it works out ok, I may make a couple more for anyone who wants something cheap (because really.... $260 filmtools?.... it should make minor automatic repairs to air conditioners for that price).

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Here's a couple of PDFs that might spark some ideas. I made the box as one big open container with many slots to accommodate dividers that can be moved at will. The marker block and an extension box are made to fit in these dividers so the box can be set up in a compact way and in a larger, more "studio" way.

Top View

Available Dividers

 

The overall width is 12.5 and accomodates a normal slate's width of 11" (plus or minus about an eighth of an inch on width and plus or minus 1/32 or so on the thickness).

 

I don't know how you are at fabricating metal but you could pretty easily make a bracket that locks with a clevis pin.

Edited by Chris Keth
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i dunno, just generally hard to operate... and you know the occasional frustation that is pulling off a a frontbox with a STANDARD bracket. or maybe i just dont have the right "jiggle" to it. The purple Don Earl thing is whatever frustration that is times 15.

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Matt,

any luck with your project? i was also wondering if anyone was aware of a way to make a frontbox work on a smaller tripod that doesn't have bolts on the head. i use a vinten tripod at work and the head is too small to accommodate the box, but i'm trying to figure out a way to make it work anyway. any creative suggestions?

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Matt,

any luck with your project? i was also wondering if anyone was aware of a way to make a frontbox work on a smaller tripod that doesn't have bolts on the head. i use a vinten tripod at work and the head is too small to accommodate the box, but i'm trying to figure out a way to make it work anyway. any creative suggestions?

 

Umm.... honestly short of modifying the head to fit some kind of bracketry, i can't think of a good way that's not a complete PITA. I remember replacing the regular bracket on a frontbox once with a slightly modifed L-bracket from Lowes, because this old Worral head we were using didn't have frontbox mounting pins either. Drilled a hole in the top of the L, and it was held in place by the screw that holds the wedge to engage/disengage the tilt gear mesh (or whatever you would call it). You could MAYBE do that sort of thing, but you'd probably be making a baseplate and your frontbox would end up tilting with the camera. I can't think of a good way other than really trying to modify the head.

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You could make a bracket that sandwiches in between the head and the ball that fits in the bowl on the sticks. The ball usually goes onto the head with a big 3/8-16 screw and a couple set screws to make sure it doesn't unscrew. You might have to drill the plate strategically so that the set screws can still do their job.

 

Imaging a disc with a protrusion on one side that is bent down 90 degrees. That bent-down bit could either hold pins for a standard frontbox bracket or an attachment of your own design, since you would likely want a smaller frontbox than normal for a smaller tripod.

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Well in that case, you could do all sorts of things. Chris's idea is basically the same as the Worral thing, only it becomes stationary. I figure most people want the box to pan along with the head, but not tilt, which is what that Sachtler adapter would do.

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Check it!!

 

Total cost = $28

 

frontbox1.jpg

frontbox2.jpg

 

 

I think it turned out pretty decent for no plans (assuming everything fits when i check it out in a couple days). Chris Keth, thank you tons for those diagrams. I'm assuming it looks proportionally correct, but the total height is about a 1/2-3/4" shallower than a standard one I think.... And the drill press motor broke after half a hole, so the done-by-hand holes are kinda sucky.

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Matt,

looks good. did you assemble the box with glue or fasteners? and what did you use for the mounting bracket on the back?

 

It's pretty much all glue. The bottom also has drilled in finish nails. As far as the bracket goes, I haven't actually been back to LA to go pick it up. I think it's just 4 screws in the back of it. Still would like to find that sliding lock one though. <_<

 

I was thinking about making a lid for it.. i mean why not. Was trying to think of something new to try with it, but didn't want to spend too much time planning. Could maybe add a little offset cup holder.. or some speakers and an ipod slot! Yeah?............ Well I'll think of something new eventually...maybe... :blink:

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Yes! That Studio Depot one was it actually! Funny I walked in and was told they didn't carry anything frontbox related. I walked around for a bit and kept scanning the walls.. took a while to find but since they didn't seem to know about it, they sold it to me for $54 instead of some price above 80 bucks that it was initially.

 

If anyone else is interested in it, I got the impression that restocking it is very low priority (since they didn't have a correct inventory in the computer). There's only 3 or so left. Tell them you know someone who got it for $50 if they try to charge more. :)

 

Also, I would post a picture of it, but I have no charged batteries in the house, and my cell phone apparently makes my computer freeze.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've seen and handled the Matt Kelly special front box and endorse it whole heartedly. I suggested an iPod dock with some speakers and Matt said he would make that happen. It's really a nice piece of work, so call Matt up and put him to work on one for you at a great low price. I happen to know that in between measuring, cutting, sanding and gluing up front box pieces all he does is play Halo 3 on 1080p HD. That's what the strike does to hard working camera guys!

Edited by J. Lamar King
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  • 2 months later...
  • 4 months later...
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In my drawings, solid lines tend to be visible edges. Greyed out lines are cuts that can't be seen from that view.

 

These were only really meant for my own use so my apologies if some things aren't quite crystal.

Edited by Chris Keth
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No problem. Post some photos when you finish and let me know how you like it. It's currently only a plan as I need to get up to my Dad's place before I have the right tools to make one for myself. When you're finished, feel free to suggest design changes, too. There's likely to be something I did that could be better.

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  • 3 months later...
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Decided on a more generic front box. If I built one again I would have made the front shallower, to make grabbing smaller items easier.

 

next, I am going to build a rain cover with a bit of elastic edge that can snap over everything quickly. I envision it looking a bit like a type writer dust cover.

post-31753-1228108086.jpg

post-31753-1228108111.jpg

post-31753-1228108351.jpg

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