Maker Update

Maker Update #41: Manfrotto Magic Arm and Super Clamp kit

img

Gives great flexibility in positioning a camera or small light

This week on Maker Update: a magic bag of NeoPixie dust, my #1 video and photography tool, hydrodipping 3D prints, MagPi 59, making art for 3D glasses, and maker faires.

My Cool Tools review this time is the Manfrotto Magic Arm and Super Clamp. You can pick up this combo for around $154 on Amazon Prime. Not cheap, but I rely on this every single week and it’s been a worthwhile investment. If you happen to pick one up using the link here, you help support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

So what’s so magic about the magic arm? This is the best tool I’ve found for getting perfect overhead shots of project builds on your desk or workbench. It has a standard camera mount on the top, a heavy duty clamp on the bottom, and a locking elbow joint in the middle.

Unlocked, the whole thing can twist and wiggle around until you find an angle you like. By locking the elbow, every joint, from top to bottom, seizes up and holds its place. This is especially handy when you need a heavy camera to cantilever out over your desk and stay still while you drill and solder and screw a project together. Most of my Cool Tool videos, with the exception of this one, are made using this system.

The only thing I don’t like about it, aside from the price, is that every few months the elbow joint needs to be tightened with an allen wrench to keep the tension snug. I also sometimes wish the arms were a little longer so I could get higher over my work. But it helps that the clamp has a removable wedge so the clamp can attach to round poles, like a big tripod, when I need more height.

I learned about the Magic Arm from a post by maker extraordinaire Becky Stern on Makezine.com in 2014, where she shares 10 tips for making great build videos. I’ll include a link to that in the description, along with an Amazon link for the Magic arm kit. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools just like this at Cool-Tools.org.

Speaking of Cool Tools, this week I’m on the Cool Tools podcast sharing some of my favorite tools — including the magic arm, which made me think to include it this week. The interview is from back in March, before I started working for Cool Tools and before I had completed my car for Maker Faire, but it’s a fun listen and an honor to be on a podcast I’ve enjoyed for such a long time. So check it out.

-- Donald Bell 07/6/17