• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

DIY Image Stabilisation (IS) for binoculars (1 Viewer)

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
This thread is for the do-it-yourself, hacker, tinkerer, who has been curious about image stabilised binoculars.

The background for this topic is here: Premium (Alpha) vs Image stabilized

IMG_7296.jpg
IMG_7299.jpg
IMG_7297.jpg IMG_7298.jpg

By increasing the Moment of Inertia in the image plane (2 axis stabilisation is all you need, can skip the roll axis), fine tremors are suppressed and the image jitter is reduced. This effect is greatest for high frequency tremors, modest for medium frequency. The stability of above Nikon 8x30, is better than the SLC 8x56 which is the most stable 8x conventional binocular I have ever used.

The rod is 500mm long M6 threaded steel, the tip is lead-free solder that I had, but can be anything you wish for the weight, and the wing-nut helps lock it into place.

Final weight in above build, 610g, same as a Canon 10x30. Removing the stabiliser, the Nikon is 435g.

I don't pretend that this is more effective than active image stabilisation in Canon, or the complex mechanisms in Zeiss, but this is surprisingly effective, simple, and imo elegant by being made of only 3 parts :p. It definitely has its niche uses for me. Certainly more practical and easier than the skyandtelescope:

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-equipment/image-stabilize-your-binoculars/

Bino-Frame-pivoting_341.jpg

My hunt for a cheap used pair of canon 10x30 continues as I'm very curious to put them side by side for comparison. Any forum member who wishes to try my stabiliser, I will make you one for free :).
 
Last edited:

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Ok the moment you've been waiting for.... just joking!

Video through binoculars, with and without the stabiliser. I didn't caption which is which, it is pretty obvious.

One handed hold, elbows on knees. The other hand operating phone camera.

 

William Lewis

Wishing birdwatching paid the bills.
United Kingdom
Kimmik 👏

Physics, maths and engineering all amalgamated into one elegant solution.

I hope your innovation gives you many happy hours of shake free observations as I'm sure it must. My one point of concern with the design (and I only see one of course, there can surely be no more than one) is that you ensure to open any hide windows fully lest you smash them when approaching with your instrument.

Top work

Will
 
Last edited:

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
...surprisingly effective, simple, and imo elegant by being made of only 3 parts
It's like you were able to improve upon the creativity of the wooden version by making it much less cumbersome and the one area that would be nice to improve would be to make a universal clamping system that could accommodate a wide range of binoculars.

I'd like to try making a 3 piece version with an aluminum tent pole, a couple of repair sleeves and a small pouch for holding weights, which could be rocks, pocket change, or even a large gold nugget.

Using a 6061 tent pole and the small pouch would make it a more field friendly version that even a weight/bulk conscious backpacker could be willing to carry.

Were you able to determine what the overall weight range should be and if benefits kept going up as it got heavier?
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
Wouldn't it work even better if you bend the rod so far that the weight is below the bino? Preferably exactly below the center of gravity of the bino?
Now I want to try a piece of string with weight inside an attached pouch, which could be the simplest, cheapest and lightest solution of all, and could mimic the benefits of a heavier set of binoculars oft cited for purposes of stability.
 

William Lewis

Wishing birdwatching paid the bills.
United Kingdom
It's like you were able to improve upon the creativity of the wooden version by making it much less cumbersome and the one area that would be nice to improve would be to make a universal clamping system that could accommodate a wide range of binoculars.

I'd like to try making a 3 piece version with an aluminum tent pole, a couple of repair sleeves and a small pouch for holding weights, which could be rocks, pocket change, or even a large gold nugget.

Using a 6061 tent pole and the small pouch would make it a more field friendly version that even a weight/bulk conscious backpacker could be willing to carry.

Were you able to determine what the overall weight range should be and if benefits kept going up as it got heavier?
An interesting proposition, I would think that the weights could be lessened proportionally to the ammount the rod was lengthened, a good weight saving providing the rod was made of a suitably lightweight material. Wind and wield ability I feel could easily become overstated concerns so I will omit them.
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
...the weights could be lessened proportionally to the ammount the rod was lengthened, a good weight saving providing the rod was made of a suitably lightweight material. Wind and wield ability I feel could easily become overstated...
That's why I thought of modern tent poles, and also a great point regarding the effect of stabilizing length when determining the necessary weight to be effective.
The rod type design would work with lighter weights than my second solution of a string and pouch, although the pouch for weight holding would eliminate the need for carrying an additional weight since anything (a leatherman or pocket knife) could be put inside at the time of use.
Then there's your mention of wind, which would make the pouch method problematic, in which case the pouch could be eliminated in favor of a slip knot, one at each end of the string, for attaching to the binoculars and also for securing the selected weight material.
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Wouldn't it work even better if you bend the rod so far that the weight is below the bino? Preferably exactly below the center of gravity of the bino?
Another idea I once contemplated was getting one of those smartphone stabilizers and put the bino on top instead of a phone.

Pointing the weight down would change the axes of stabilisation, you will lose the left/right aka yaw stabilisation.

The skyandtelescope article mentions he tried a cross shape but it wasn’t effective enough.

You do bring up a good point, the weight being forward makes the bino hold a bit awkward, center of gravity is now a little in front of the objective. A longer bino would be easier to stabilise as the COG will stay at the objective.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Some telescope users attach string to the front of the telescope and stand on the string.

I suppose it also works with a long camera lens.

B.
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
would be nice to improve would be to make a universal clamping system that could accommodate a wide range of binoculars.

I'd like to try making a 3 piece version with an aluminum tent pole, a couple of repair sleeves and a small pouch for holding weights, which could be rocks, pocket change, or even a large gold nugget.

Using a 6061 tent pole and the small pouch would make it a more field friendly version that even a weight/bulk conscious backpacker could be willing to carry.

Really like your idea about developing for pocket bino - they are the least stable of all formats, and most used for hiking where you want the waterproof, battery-less design. I will look for a Zeiss VP 10x25 to develop a universal clamp as you suggested.

Tent pole is a great idea too, aluminium or fiberglass - which style do you find to be stiffer for the weight?

The pouch idea is fantastic, as it might additionally add damping to the resonance oscillation, and be more effective for medium frequency vibrations. And as you say, allows you to make double use of things you already carry! You can then even tune the weight to your preferences and for best center of gravity.

Were you able to determine what the overall weight range should be and if benefits kept going up as it got heavier?

Yes the heavier the tip, or the longer the rod, the more stable. The limiting factors:
  • Long rod is wobbly, and starts to induce an oscillation (resonance).
  • Long rod is unwieldy.
  • But long rod lets you use less weight.
  • Heavy weight or long rod will bring the center of gravity too far forward, making the hold more awkward.
So at some point a balance is achieved between the desire for more stability, vs the above.

An interesting proposition, I would think that the weights could be lessened proportionally to the ammount the rod was lengthened, a good weight saving providing the rod was made of a suitably lightweight material. Wind and wield ability I feel could easily become overstated concerns so I will omit them.

When I find a suitable tent pole per Trinovid, will see how much further the optimisation can go. In the ideal design, I would want it to be a telescopic pole, then both length and tip weight can be easily adjusted.
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
Tent pole is a great idea too, aluminum or fiberglass - which style do you find to be stiffer for the weight?

The pouch idea is fantastic, as it might additionally add damping to the resonance oscillation, and be more effective for medium frequency vibrations. And as you say, allows you to make double use of things you already carry! You can then even tune the weight to your preferences and for best center of gravity.

When I find a suitable tent pole per Trinovid, will see how much further the optimisation can go. In the ideal design, I would want it to be a telescopic pole, then both length and tip weight can be easily adjusted.
Fiberglass poles are heavier while modern tent poles made out of higher grades of aluminum will be the best overall option and it's pretty easy to find sleeves at most sporting goods stores, or online, for field repair of broken poles. That way you could cut up a single pole into the best length for packing and put it together quickly with the repair sleeves.

I'm going to try out the string and weight method tomorrow and am glad you thought to start this thread topic.
 

jafritten

Well-known member
This thread is for the do-it-yourself, hacker, tinkerer, who has been curious about image stabilised binoculars.

The background for this topic is here: Premium (Alpha) vs Image stabilized

View attachment 1466582
View attachment 1466585
View attachment 1466583 View attachment 1466584

By increasing the Moment of Inertia in the image plane (2 axis stabilisation is all you need, can skip the roll axis), fine tremors are suppressed and the image jitter is reduced. This effect is greatest for high frequency tremors, modest for medium frequency. The stability of above Nikon 8x30, is better than the SLC 8x56 which is the most stable 8x conventional binocular I have ever used.

The rod is 500mm long M6 threaded steel, the tip is lead-free solder that I had, but can be anything you wish for the weight, and the wing-nut helps lock it into place.

Final weight in above build, 610g, same as a Canon 10x30. Removing the stabiliser, the Nikon is 435g.

I don't pretend that this is more effective than active image stabilisation in Canon, or the complex mechanisms in Zeiss, but this is surprisingly effective, simple, and imo elegant by being made of only 3 parts :p. It definitely has its niche uses for me. Certainly more practical and easier than the skyandtelescope:

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-equipment/image-stabilize-your-binoculars/

View attachment 1466579

My hunt for a cheap used pair of canon 10x30 continues as I'm very curious to put them side by side for comparison. Any forum member who wishes to try my stabiliser, I will make you one for free :).
Very interesting contraption, Kimmik. And very inspiring, too! I'll have a look at what's in my tool shed... I'd like to see it in use. Isn't it a bit unwieldy? Thanks for sharing your idea.
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Version 0.4 - fluid damper instead of solid metal tip.

This version uses a semi-viscous fluid damper as the mass (aka a 110ml bottle of saline water that I had lying around :unsure:)

It works even better than the solid metal because the sloshing of fluid wastes energy and thus dampens vibrations, and is not susceptible to resonance, which in the original video you can see a modest medium frequency sway.

IMG_7306.jpg

I think this is the way to go, and it is getting pretty close to what I consider a mature concept for a DIY stabiliser.

Next version: change steel rod to aluminium to save weight, probably can save 30g or so as current rod is 75g.
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Very interesting contraption, Kimmik. And very inspiring, too! I'll have a look at what's in my tool shed... I'd like to see it in use. Isn't it a bit unwieldy? Thanks for sharing your idea.

Thanks Jafritten, I think the concept and academic exercise is where most of the enjoyment is, but it is also moving further than I had anticipated before beginning the build. It may end up being a viable DIY project for more than just me.

As for the unwieldy, you're not wrong - but it isn't heavy so adjusting your grip compensates for it. The final version may be lighter or shorter (probably not both)

A longer binocular like the EL 32mm would be easier from the balance point of view, since the COG will remain within the length of the binocular. Maybe later once I've finished exploring the fundamentals of the concept on this "expendable" nikon first.
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
So I’ve been using the stabiliser on and off sitting at the lake and a few thoughts:

  • The big reduction is jitter, but medium frequency “wobble” is not as reduced.
  • The 610g weight is noticeable vs 435g.
  • At 8x, for me, i can achieve pretty steady views just by using two hands instead of one hand hold, so further stabilising the image is only marginal.
  • The water bottle idea is good, but its too ugly 😂. The weird pointed solder tip is funner.
  • The only electronic IS optic i would consider is for 15x or greater, as I don’t care for minor increases in magnification over what I can already handhold without help.
 

Trinovid

mountain and glacier watcher
United States
So I’ve been using the stabiliser on and off sitting at the lake and a few thoughts:
  • The big reduction is jitter, but medium frequency “wobble” is not as reduced.
  • The 610g weight is noticeable vs 435g.
  • At 8x, for me, i can achieve pretty steady views just by using two hands instead of one hand hold, so further stabilising the image is only marginal.
I'm still going to give it a try, though I'm thinking it may take quite a bit of weight to make a difference using the string method, so maybe I'll go the opposite direction and use a helium filled birthday balloon!
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I'm still going to give it a try, though I'm thinking it may take quite a bit of weight to make a difference using the string method, so maybe I'll go the opposite direction and use a helium filled birthday balloon!

As long as one has fun in the process!

If you find a pair of bino that could work with my stabiliser, I will mail it to you for free to play with. You can use it for plumbing solder afterwards lol!
 

kimmik

Well-known member
United Kingdom
So going down the rabbit hole, there are different hand tremors which differ by frequency and cause:

7290D972-92EB-4B3B-9E34-8052E335B3D1.png

Its interesting that health conditions cause the lowest frequency tremors, cerebellar dysfunction and Parkinson disease. Aging related essential tremor is mid frequency, while physiologic tremor which occurs in even the healthiest, is high frequency.

From my experiments today, larger binoculars will dampen the physiologic tremor best, this explains why some strong young people can handhold 15x56.

Aging tremors aka essential tremor is also reasonably dampened by larger binoculars, but not cerebellar and parkinsonian tremors, which are low frequency high amplitude.

So here is my hand tremor measured on iphone app “vibration analysis”:
6DF90711-52E1-420F-88EF-8693D4AC9C78.png

Showing my tremors are equal part physiologic and essential tremor.
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
It also depends on what frequency your eyes can compensate for. There is a residual wander with my IS binoculars that doesn’t stop me seeing fine detail, they damp out the higher frequency jitter that blurs the fine detail. Be interested in the best parameters for different power and weight of binoculars. When I want stable views on my 10c I just pop them on a monopod with ballhead… but that ain’t light itself and takes up a fair amount of space…..

Peter
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top