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DIY Blimp for less than £20
  • After realizing that a good BLIMP is more about the knowledge and theory, rather than the actual construction materials, I'm embarking on a construction of my own blimp for less than £20. This will hold my cheap chinese microphone EM-320E, which is still on its way. My inspiration came from here:

    and here
    . So whatever advice you can give me on how to improve my design, it would be greatly appreciated, and hopefully will help others later on. These are the materials that I'll be using:

    • Bird feeder (£3) - to make the frame. Length 33cm. Diameter 6cm (the cage is metal, but not too robust. I might replace it with a much tougher mesh from one of those metal mesh bins http://www.ebay.com/itm/190683027361)
    • 2 round tea strainers (£3) for the FRONT and BACK end caps
    • 2 plastic jars with diameter 6cm (£2) - I will cut off the caps so as to make both end caps of the blimp to easily screw onto the frame
    • 300mmX200mm of Ultra fine mesh (£4) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Fine-Stainless-Steel-wire-mesh-Insect-Reptile-Vent-Vivarium-/110876648077?_trksid=p3984.m185&_trkparms=algo%3DRIC.CFNPRP%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUA%26otn%3D5%26pmod%3D110876648077%26ps%3D63#ht_500wt_1077 This will be used predominantly at the front of the construction. Fine mesh will go inside the frame. It will be last layer that the wind will travel through, and hopefully by then it will be completely broken. I'M NOT ENTIRELY SURE IF THIS FINE MESH WILL AFFECT THE SOUND TRANSPARENCY. I really need your advice here. PLEASE HELP!
    • Micro fiber cloth OR nylon stockings (£1) - this will go inside the birdfeeder, after the fine mesh
    • 6 Rubber bands (£0) - to hold the mic inside the bird feeder in X pattern
    • 2 fluffy faux-fur lady's ankle warmers (£5) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/300698800758 hopefully these are good, thick and tight enough fake fur to block most of the wind. I will just saw the ends of these fluffies together, to make them into "bags". They are 40cm long, so should hold the entire blip pretty nicely. If you can find any better material on eBay please post a link.

    So what do you think? Will it work?

    I'm especially concerned with a small (6cm) diameter of the birdfeeder, but I hope that adding the fine mesh should supplement that like in this video

    Or am I wrong?

  • 35 Replies sorted by
  • My own opinion - get Rode Blimp. It is about $204-240 is USA (shipped to me was $260):
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=rode%20blimp&_sacat=0&_clu=2&_fcid=168&_localstpos=&_stpos=&gbr=1
    And it really great tool.

    2 fluffy faux-fur lady's ankle warmers

    This can be absolutely unsuitable as you need acoustically transparent cloth and good fur.

  • @kronstadt

    Yes, you do need audio-transparent fabric. I have a blimp I made using a genuine fluffy dog replacement cover, complete with drawstring. For a cage I used plastic garden-mesh, heated and moulded it into round-ended cylinder with my hands while wearing welding gloves. Light and works perfectly.

    The bird-feeder sounds great. (Bugger, I just threw one out when the birds ignored it!)

  • I've never needed a fully enclosed blimp for my K6 based Sennheiser shotgun even when travelling 20 mph in an open boat in windy conditions. If you use a Professional windsock like a genuine Rycote Softie and not a cheap aftermarket copy, they work fantastic. Not cheap, but you will have it for years. http://www.rycote.com/products/softie_kit/

  • @Rambo

    Rycote Softie - that's what I used - but with the plastic frame inside, rubber bands isolate the shotgun from the sides. This avoids mic shuffle as well as wind.

  • @Roberto >This avoids mic shuffle as well as wind.

    So does the handle that comes with the Softie link i posted above, but i rarely need it as the Senny has good internal isolation from shuffling.

    The cheap shoguns have loose XLR sockets and rattle like crazy. Good quality mics and cables have rubber O rings etc, worth every but of the extra bucks.

  • I'm all for DIY when it's cost effective and practical. However I see many DIY's that end up costing more in $$$ and time than simply buying the right tool for the job in the first place. And then does the damn thing even work? For some it's a learning experience... for others? Well they'll never learn!

    (An insight from a semi-cured DIY'er!) ;>P

  • Oh I like DIY and do heaps of it, as some stuff i need just isn't available to buy, but you're right, after a few stuff ups it would have been better buying right in the first place, plus you can always sell it, no one buys DIY secondhand.

  • Makes no sense spending $250 for a blimp for an $19 mic. I ordered one as well. Please report-back on your results. $20-40 is max to spend on a $20 mic for this.

  • The limitation of the softie is that in really strong wind, the exposed end of the mic is subject to wind buffeting that moves the mic physically causing low rumbles, even if the ports are completely covered with fur. That's why for serious wind, you need a fully-enclosed blimp... or at least another softie stuck on the other end! Seriously:you'd be amazed how much a second softie over the other end of the mic (with a cutout for the cable) can get you through wind conditions that are too much for just one softie on the front end of the mic.

  • @Rambo - My Rycote is just a bag with velcro tabs, so maybe not a Softie at all.

    Where I live, there's no kit rental shop. When you want something, you DIY. Everyone, from mechanics to TV techs, have workshops and their work is - at best, better than anything you wait a week for; at worst it's over-engineered.

  • At least these days we have the internet so we can learn first from other people's DIY successes/stuff ups and decide if we want to go there or not. And of course if there is a bargain that actually works the word gets around.

  • Makes no sense spending $250 for a blimp for an $19 mic.

    First, the only $20 shotgun mike that I see is very cheap chinese HTDZ.
    Second, it is perfectly ok to spend $200 even for $5 second hand mike, as you spending it not according to mike price, but to get better, usable sound.
    As for Rycote, this kit cost the same as blimp.

  • +1 Rode Blimp .. love it .. the NT2 lives in it .. it never comes out.

  • If you are chasing acoustic transparent cloth .. contact http://www.micover.com/ I emailed and was able to purchase a piece of cloth .. I made (flat - held on to camera body with elastic) wind covers for the surround sound mics on some camcorders.

  • My point is, for those of us not serious sound people. Who are investing $19 for a mic, we need a $20 blimp. If we wanted to spend $250 for sound, than we'd be better off spending $200 on a good mic and $50 on the fixings.

  • Strangways, i find that true on something like a Rode Video Pro which i also have, the entire mic must be covered, but never had that issue with the Sennheiser shotgun in extreme wind. Probably because the shotgun in those circumstances is 2" from the speakers mouth like a hand mic and gain is way down. I take your point though.

  • @disneytoy

    $19 for a mic, we need a $20 blimp

    Well, sort of. Not that I don't see where you're coming from. But it gets complicated. For example, for my own $39 budget I might be so tempted by some $37 mic that I might only leave myself enough for a $2 mouse-mat that I'll wrap around the windward side of the mic (as I've done countless times). Or decide to shoot on a different side of a building..

    My point is rather that, when we understand the principles involved and our budget, we can make very pragmatic decisions. A grasp of the principles of wind protection is indeed something a keen mind can apply well.

    Conversely, manufacturers have constraints (like appearance, freight costs, etc) which limit their ability to make their stuff work properly. Some products are extremely good value, especially these days; others (like miserable attempts to produce something more expensive to do the job of a $1 sock-full of rice for tabletop camera positioning) are no more than snake-oil.

    Of all things, photography is noted for the ingenuity of its practitioners. Film sets are full of gaffer-tape. DOP Jack Cardiff would breathe on a lens to fog it up, etc. It's all lots of fun.

    So look into it, build your blimp - if possible build one in some way better than anyone else has. Then tell us about it.

  • @disneytoy The reality is a cheap shotgun mic with a $250 blimp and dead cat will likely provide more usable results than a $2000 mic with a $20 blimp in windy conditions. However if you can produce something as effective as a $250 blimp for $20 then I predict there will be a stampede.

  • The biggest issue I've had with wind/handling noise was my Oktava MK-012's which I mostly use with hyper capsules indoors. I trawled through various forums and saw many posts from those with identical problems. The most successful solution appeared to be a Rycote Baby Ball gag and Rycote Invision 6 Shockmount, However that was nearly as much as each mic cost. So I tried a bunch of different DIY things none of which completely solved the problems. Finally I gave in and bought the Baby Ball Gag and Invision Shockmount. The Oktava's are much better now but it took me quite a while and a lighter wallet to fix the problem.

  • @pundit

    a cheap shotgun mic with a $250 blimp and dead cat will likely provide more usable results..

    I agree. Good sound is too important to get wrong. It's also the best thing you can do to improve the look of your video!

  • This project will take a while to complete, because the parts I've ordered will take time to arrive (we don't have stores like Home Depot here (it's a small town in the middle of nowhere), so I have to order overpriced eBay items for my DIY projects). And I will post updates when I complete it. Hopefully it will work.

    If not, the most I can afford (well, I can't even afford those) is these cheap Indian blimps http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/140596801213#ht_4978wt_1172 Has anyone used them? Do they work okey?

    @Vitaliy_Kiselev I'd love to get a Rode Blimp, but simply can't afford it.

    @Roberto , thanks for the support. I think you get the spirit of this project "Of all things, photography is noted for the ingenuity of its practitioners. Film sets are full of gaffer-tape. DOP Jack Cardiff would breathe on a lens to fog it up, etc. It's all lots of fun."

    You said you used "a genuine fluffy dog replacement cover, complete with drawstring" - I have no idea what this is, can you please post a link? or a picture?

    It's not about a £12 mic deserving no more than a £20 blimp. Yes, it is about a guy embarking on an ambitious project to make a film with a budget of no more than £6000, so budgeting and being inventive is an integral part of any filmmaking (even when your budget is $60mln). And I think the spirit of GH13 - the crazy idea that you can take a photo-camera, put lenses on it that were manufactured in 1970s and hack/overclock that camera (kudos to @Vitaliy_Kiselev) to make it produce motion pictures comparable to cinematic releases, fits perfectly with the spirit of filmmaking -- that's what intrigued me to buy my second-hand GH1 in the first place. Like anyone else, I'd love to be filming on 35mm filmstock (or even 16mm stock if I could afford that kind of workflow) or Arri Alexa or Red, but I've got GH13 and that's what I've got to shoot a film with.

    For now, if I can get a sound clean enough to be comparable to Aranowski's "Pi" or Nolan's "Following", I'd be happy.

    But there's another element of innovation in this Blimp project, when one day I took my Zoom H1 and a tea strainer and headed to the beach (I live by the sea, so it's VERY windy), and did a little experiment with the tea-strainer on and off. The difference was huge. I am not aware of any manufactured blimps using double layers of mesh (one for the frame and one additional layer of fine mesh to "break" the wind), and then I found that video on YouTube (see above), and it seems that using fine mesh doesn't compromise the audio transparency. So I decided to go for it. At best it could be a blimp that works better then expensive ones, at worst it could be £20 spent on a lesson.

    As for DIY, I do it (even with primitive tools) to cut corners. And so far I've made a slider for £31.57, a crane for £79.87 and many more tools and accessories that are way more capable and useful on locations than Kessler or Philip-Bloom-signature-overpriced-toy.

    As for using the fake-fur ladies ankle warmers, what if I cut out the "silky" internal cloth and leave just the fur? Will that restore audio transparency of the fake fur? I asked the seller about which one is the thickest fur and they said #9 "Wolf" here http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=130649552475&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT#ht_7692wt_1241 Should I go for it?

    Instead of using the fake-fur ladies ankle warmers (which I don't see the reason why any less effective then usual fake fur used in so many DIY blimps), I've negotiated with this manufacturer http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/camera_nation/m.html that he/she will make for me a custom cover with 7-8cm diameter and 40cm length for £25. For a review of what this manucaturer's cheap but effective windshields are capable of see

    I'll also contact micover.com to see if I can get the cloth only. Thanks @kavadni

    Any more pointers, links, sugestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • @kronstadt

    As you can see, this is smaller than what you need for your shotgun. I have used this with smaller directional mics (off my Betacam) or with cardoids, over the plastic cage so as to completely envelop the mic.

    Note the silky lining. I do think it matters.

    Rycote.JPG
    602 x 400 - 81K
    RycoteCU.JPG
    327 x 300 - 40K
  • @kronstadt

    that he/she will make for me a custom cover with 7-8cm diameter and 40cm length for £25

    same price as Rode Dead Wombat furry cover

    I admire your desire to make forself, I think this is project you might find not worth while.

    I will go out on a limb and say you will get a better a result with a foam pop cover designed for the microphone and a furry cover made to fit that from a fabric designed for the purpose .. than you will from a birdcage with a non purposed fabric

  • For chrissakes, the guy's probably got quality time away in his shed. His kids admire and emulate him, his long-suffering wife's back indoors happy with her holiday budget untouched and her new leg-warmers, and hubby's having heaps of science-fun while he hones his skills & gets the satisfaction of finishing a project he can use later.

  • I'm redesigning my Blimp to be bigger, with more "dead air space"... 125mm in diameter and 490mm long (exactly like Rode Blimp).

    @kavadni , Can you please tell us where exactly can we purchase a Rode Dead Wombat for £25. At that price-point, I won't mind dressing my DIY blimp with a Rode Dead Wombat. Please provide a link.

    @Roberto thanks, you forgot to mention "and a cup of tea" ;)