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Tool to tighten Tripod 1/4" Screws?

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Old Friday 20th July 2018, 17:21   #1
Hauksen
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Tool to tighten Tripod 1/4" Screws?

Hi everyone,

What tools do you use to tighten the typical 1/4" tripod screws with slotted head?

The slot is too wide to be of much use with the screwdrivers I have, and while in some cases, coins can be used with good effect, I have other applications where something more screwdriver-shaped would be quite nice.

I designed and 3D printed a fitting Allen key adapter, but as I can only print in plastic, that's not really a good solution since it's very easy to over-torque the key, breaking it in the process.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Sunday 22nd July 2018, 09:32   #2
Hauksen
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Hi again,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
I designed and 3D printed a fitting Allen key adapter, but as I can only print in plastic, that's not really a good solution since it's very easy to over-torque the key, breaking it in the process.
Giving it a bit more thought, I created this printable screwdriver with a small-diameter grip, limiting the torque one can apply without making a conscious effort:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3013255

After uploading my variant, I also found this key, which looks less like a screwdriver, but being flat, is clearly easier to stow and carry:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1678101

Regards,

Henning
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Old Sunday 22nd July 2018, 21:38   #3
johnf3f
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Are you overthinking this a bit? The screws shown in the second link are designed to be tightened with a coin which gives plenty of leverage and a good fit (once you have found the right size coin).
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Old Sunday 22nd July 2018, 22:42   #4
Hauksen
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
Are you overthinking this a bit? The screws shown in the second link are designed to be tightened with a coin which gives plenty of leverage and a good fit (once you have found the right size coin).
The coin trick doesn't work so well with a tripod screw in the bridge of a set of binoculars, where there's little space between the objective barrels and the adapter gets in the way, too.

However, there might be a bit of overthinking involved as well as I'd believe there'd naturally be a fitting screwdriver for every type of screw, for which the coin would be just a convenient stand-in.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 23rd July 2018, 22:27   #5
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Sorry I didn't see anything to do with Binoculars in you post.

What tripod/head/bins and other gear are you using?
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Old Tuesday 24th July 2018, 01:11   #6
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If you do an internet search for Dzus wrenches you should find both traditional wrenches and screw driver types. Dzus is a brand of quarter-turn fasteners often used in race car fabrication. They feature a rounded slot similar to what you find in many tripod screws.
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Old Tuesday 24th July 2018, 07:17   #7
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
Sorry I didn't see anything to do with Binoculars in you post.

What tripod/head/bins and other gear are you using?
Oh, I'm afraid I accidentally caused some confusion by calling the screw "tripod" screw regardless of the application. "Tripod screw" simply is the name they go by here in Germany, where's it's more or less the only application 1/4" screws have. I guess there's also a proper technical name for this kind of screw I'm not aware of ...

The application in which I have a bit of an accessibility problem is the connection of my Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 binoculars with an Midland XTC action camera via a NATO rail mounted on the tripod adapter on the bridge.

(The commercial tripod adapter alternatively mounting in the same place has a knurled knob on top of its screw, which is not ideal either as there's too little space between the knob and the barrels for efficient operation.)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 24th July 2018, 08:08   #8
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmepler View Post
Dzus is a brand of quarter-turn fasteners often used in race car fabrication. They feature a rounded slot similar to what you find in many tripod screws.
That's quite fascinating! I had read about Dzus fasteners used on the cowl fairing of the world-war-2 era P-51 Mustang fighter, but I wasn't aware they are used outside the avation world, too.

A quick Google does in fact show some suitable Dzus screwdrivers ... now I only need to find a vendor who actually ships these to Europe :-)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 24th July 2018, 08:23   #9
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Amazon UK has vendors selling them for 7-88 to 11-53 ignoring the people trying to sell them at about 60. Just google Dzus tools, not Dzus screwdrivers. I had a 'car' once with most of the removable panels held on by these things.

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 24th July 2018 at 08:29.
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Old Tuesday 24th July 2018, 21:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
Hi John,



Oh, I'm afraid I accidentally caused some confusion by calling the screw "tripod" screw regardless of the application. "Tripod screw" simply is the name they go by here in Germany, where's it's more or less the only application 1/4" screws have. I guess there's also a proper technical name for this kind of screw I'm not aware of ...

The application in which I have a bit of an accessibility problem is the connection of my Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 binoculars with an Midland XTC action camera via a NATO rail mounted on the tripod adapter on the bridge.

(The commercial tripod adapter alternatively mounting in the same place has a knurled knob on top of its screw, which is not ideal either as there's too little space between the knob and the barrels for efficient operation.)

Regards,

Henning
Thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately this is something that I have little experience of so cannot offer any useful advice.

Good luck in your search!
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Old Tuesday 31st July 2018, 12:12   #11
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
What tripod/head/bins and other gear are you using?
Here's photograph of the problematic component:

Click image for larger version

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The 3D-printed screwdriver really helps, but requires good judgement regarding the use of force.

As the German saying goes, "tight is followed by broken" ;-)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 31st July 2018, 13:32   #12
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Just get a large flat driver and grind the tip off it until it fits. No cost involved
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Old Tuesday 31st July 2018, 20:08   #13
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A slightly long thought follows which without actually having the components with me is obviously hypothetical. (i.e. potentially useless)

The overtorqueing problem is as much an engineering problem as anything else.

A tripod to binocular mount effectively hangs the binoculars from the screw as the cg of the binoculars is lower, any slight movement of the binoculars is not a problem, so the screw does not need excessive tightening.

In your design the cg of the camera + mount is above the pivot point and requires at the very least some kind of compressible friction pad between the mount and the binoculars to lower the pressure needed to hold the assembly rigid without cracking what I assume is fairly frangible printed rail, while holding the camera rigdly in position.

Typically the rail in a commercial product might be moulded from a metal or Nylon type material with low raised radial grips on the rear surface gripping a rubber like moulding fitting over the front of the binocular hinge.

While you are limited in the material available to print the rail, a rubber like disk friction surface would be a potential partial solution, but there is little on the binocular side to provide grip unless the disk is quite 'squidgy' with a high coefficient of friction.

As a simple starting point experiment with simple rubber washers - I would start with a piece cut from a bicycle inner tube or similar if you have no ther sources.

N.B. MJN is quite right, and while a thin handle limits the torque you can apply, you get much more sensitivity from a bigger handle that will potentially give you better control. Takes me back to my student days trying to design lab equipment!

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 31st July 2018 at 20:29.
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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 07:42   #14
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Hi Iveljay,

Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
In your design the cg of the camera + mount is above the pivot point and requires at the very least some kind of compressible friction pad between the mount and the binoculars to lower the pressure needed to hold the assembly rigid without cracking what I assume is fairly frangible printed rail, while holding the camera rigdly in position.
Very interesting consideration, thanks a lot for sharing!

The adapter is actually a mostly hollow PLA shell with a light irregular honeycomb structure inside, so it's flexible in compression. I wouldn't consider it frangible, at least not when printed with the fairly large cross sections of the adapter.

I'm not even sure I'm using that much torque when tightening the screw ... it might be more of a question of fragility of the screwdriver blade, which by design can't use the kind of large cross section required for the material to withstand the forces.

Thinking about it, I might be able to print a screwdriver blade that works with my torque wrench to quantify the issue. As I don't have any idea what the normal torque for a tripod screw would be, I'm not sure what I'd learn from that, though! :-)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 08:29   #15
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Most of the devices I own, that use a coin tightened screw, have compression washers or a slightly compressible non-slip surface. The torque being limited by the amount two fingers can exert over a small coin.

The main requirement in most cases for limiting torque is the truly terrible way some manufacturers attach the tripod mount to their binoculars/cameras/audio recorders or the materials they use for the internal threads.

Anyway good luck with your experiments.

J
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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 10:32   #16
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Hi J,

Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
Most of the devices I own, that use a coin tightened screw, have compression washers or a slightly compressible non-slip surface. The torque being limited by the amount two fingers can exert over a small coin.
Ah, I see. I'm pretty sure that I can apply substantially more torque even with a coin than my printed screwdriver would withstand. A 2.2 mm blade just is too thin for a PLA tool to transfer large forces, not only because the material isn't strong enough, but also because the print process results in a heterogeneous part.

Regards,

Henning
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