Steadicam Pilot BP-U conversion

When I purchased my Steadicam Pilot it came with the AA battery option which allows you to run the sled mounted monitor using 10 standard AA batteries in a removable pack on the sled.

I found that dealing with AA batteries was too much hassle, they are very fiddly to replace in the field as well as being particularly awkward to charge if you decide to use rechargeable AA’s.

Owning four Sony BP-U60 batteries for my EX1 I decided to have a go at modifying the Pilot to use one of those, meaning that I’d only have to charge one type of battery. I expect a U60 will also run the monitor for much longer than the AA’s, although I haven’t actually tested that yet.

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Having a U-60 mounted to the sled also means that I could run the EX1 from that single battery if required with the use of a lead running from the power outlet on the Pilot’s stage to the EX1’s power input socket.

I’m happy to have a U60 in the camera as well though so I haven’t bothered making such a lead yet.

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The first thing I did was to order a Dolgin EX-V, this is a simple plastic receiver plate with a wire coming out of one end. You can order various connectors to go on the wire, but the standard 2.1mm jack is perfect for the Steadicam Pilot and plugs straight into the socket on the Carbon post.

To fit the EX-V I simply removed the AA battery holder from the sled and then removed the four screws holding the lower part of the battery holder. This leaves the upper part which is perfect for mounting the EX-V too and still allows the whole assembly to be slid back onto the sled and tightened in position.

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To mount the EX-V I first removed it’s backing plate and the drilled four small holes in line with the Pilots battery mount, then simply screwed the two together allowing the screws to self-tap into the plastic of the EX-V. I might use nuts, bolts & washes in the future, but for now this seems a strong enough solution.

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Once that’s done it’s just a case of screwing the EX-V back together again and running the wire into the Pilots socket.

The batteries fit really snugly into the EX-V and remain solid without any movement at all. I might try to add some kind of latch to make it impossible for them to come out without a definite two handed action, but there’s no way the battery will fall out under normal use.

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Update – Flipping Battery!

It suddenly occured to me that I could flip the battery mount up the other way on the sled, this will stop the BP-U60 from hitting the ground and makes it a lot easier to monitor remaining power by pressing the U60’s power button. The rig still seems balance okay both statically and dynamically so only time will tell if I run into any problems with it in use.

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  • Comments (24)
    • Paul Frederick
    • August 5th, 2009 2:50pm

    Paul,

    I’d love to see some of your shots with this rig! Been thinking of getting one, but have never had much luck with these smaller steadycams. They always seem to wobble too much. Plus I thought the EX was too heavy for most of them.

    • Hi Paul. The Pilot easily handles the EX1, even with the wide angle lens, mic and U60 battery attached. Having the Pilot loaded fully helps with stability but I’m not experienced enough with other systems to know if this wobbles more. There are some shots using the Pilot in the H.O.G event video I filmed in Latvia recently, http://www.pauljoy.com/?p=2421.

        • Paul Frederick
        • August 6th, 2009 8:56pm

        Excellent to know Paul! Just watched the short, very steady stuff. Looks smoother than my Glidecam 4000 pro. Are you using a vest for it? I find mine is very heavy, I can’t go more than 20 seconds without nearly breaking my wrist!

        Nice job!

        • The pilot comes with the arm and vest as standard, I don ‘t think it could be used without them, at least not for long unless you have very beefy arms!

    • Emanuele_C
    • February 23rd, 2010 10:05am

    REALLY useful info here, thanks Paul! Now I need to find a guide to replace the 5,8″ standard monitor with an HDMI one to connect it to my DSLR! :)

    • Emanuele_C
    • March 11th, 2010 1:24pm

    My Pilot AA arrived two days ago and I’ve started to enjoy it. After some practice with the Merlin, this seems to be easier to balance and fly: take into account that I’ve bought my first steadicam 20 days ago. :) Just ordered from B&H the Dolgin plate + Sony battery&charger to make the mod.
    Now a question for you Paul. How does the mod to the Pilot works after over an year? Is it performing good? Any problems at all?
    Thanks in advance.

    Ciao,

    Emanuele

    • Hi Emanuele. To be honest I don’t use the Pilot a lot, but when it has been used the BPU conversion has continued to work a treat and I haven’t had any problems at all.

    • Emanuele_C
    • March 13th, 2010 7:54am

    Thanks for the answer, Paul!
    Best, Emanuele

    • Vincent
    • March 29th, 2010 8:38pm

    Hi, Paul:

    I saw your demo pictures of Steadicam Pilot.what is it between your XDCam & Pilot?is it Quick Release adapter?Coz I got a Pilot-AA.I always get this problem is using too many time to release my cam from Pilot to Manfrotto tripod.do you have any idea fix this problem.but don’t ask me buy one more Camcorder….haha!!,thx

    • I use a Miller 313 Quick Release plate as it allows me to leave the same release plate on my camera that I use on my Miller tripod. You could use the Manfrotto 577 just as easily.

        • Vincent
        • March 29th, 2010 9:29pm

        But the Manfrotto 577 is it very hard to balance ?thx

        • Really? I suppose it depends what camera you are using but with my EX1 or 5D rig I just use the sliding plate of the quick release to get approximate fwd / aft balance and then fine adjust using the stage adjustment.

            • Vincent
            • March 29th, 2010 9:48pm

            I’m using NXcam now,I saw your demo picture.you put your EX1 to the end of plate with Miller Plate on Pilot.balance ok?

          • Yes, exactly as in the images above works great for me.

  1. Hi, Paul:

    did you try to put your Canon camera on Steadicam pilot?I have a question is how can I connect video signal from my 7D to Pilot LCD Monitor?coz pilot monitor don’t have HDMI input any idea?

    • Hi Vincent, yes I’ve used DSLR’s on the pilot and just use the canon Av lead .

  2. Hi, Paul got it thank you!!

    • Lars
    • September 20th, 2010 4:26pm

    Hi!
    What is canon Av lead?
    I am also trying to find out a way to connect Canon 7D to steadicam pilot default monitor. Is there a way to do it that is not to expencive?

    thanks in advance!

    • Canon DSLR’s usually come with an AV lead. One end is a three way mini jack, the other is a standard 3 phono connector (yellow, red, White). Plug the yellow connector into the video input on the pilots stage and you’ll get video to the monitor.

  3. Hey Paul…
    Just to say: THANK YOU… I recently “upgraded” from Glidecam X10 to Pilot and in search for “tips and FAQ” I found your url… Following your idea, I did the same in modifying the sled to Sony EX1 power. I did both cables (power and video) and works like a charm! I was familia with Dolgin adapter from before (got it directly from Dolgin as soon as it was available) but with different plugs. I used that on my HD4000 sled to power the monitor only. Now, I ordered the same as you from B&H and did the mod with proper screws with bolts. All done in 1/2 hour. I custom ordered adapter cables for video and power and the person who made it, did a GREAT JOB. All together, very happy!
    Again, thanks for confirming (first) the idea that I had…
    P.S. R U getting the F3???

    • Thanks for the feedback Steven. Not making any final decisions about investing in an F3 until next year, but yes it’s very likely.

    • Clayton Burkhart
    • November 6th, 2011 12:38pm

    Hi, Just wondered if there exists an equivalent adapter to the Dolgin one referenced in this thread for Sony NP-F970 which I run my Marshall off of?

    They appear to have similar connection plates, but it is not clear if it is the same or if another power adapter is needed. If so where could I find one?

    Cheers,
    Clayton

    • Reibel
    • July 26th, 2012 2:39am

    Dear paul
    Sorry about this question.
    Do you know the model or the brand of the lcd 5.8 monitor that steadicam pilot AA has?
    I have my own.
    My problem is, 2 days ago when i started to use it, after put the batteries i made a mistake with the connections to the baterries.
    This mistake burned a specific circuit inside the monitor.
    I went to a fixing center, but they told me, they have to know the model or maybe the diagram circuit from the monitor. Its the only way to identify the circuit and change it to make it works.

    Greetings.

    • Jeff Masotti
    • February 8th, 2014 6:36pm

    Can anyone tell me the name of the cable input that plugs into the side on the 5.8 inch monitor its almost impossible to get a straight answer I thought it was an IFC-200PCU but i orderone and it was too small. anyone know ?