Survey and Design

My AP On a Stick!

Yes, I know, there are many other APOS setups out there, and to be honest, I have taken my inspiration from many of them, most notably Nick Turners blog post:

Nick has made a number of modifications over the years to get to a great home-brew solution so I thought I would give it a go myself.

My Requirements:

  • Be reasonably lightweight and portable.
  • Be mobile once assembled.
  • Have a high enough reach to get an AP as close the ceiling as possible in a ‘normal’ environment.
  • Provide an easy method for attaching the AP being used.
  • Ultimately it must be a reasonable quality at a low cost point.

My initial thoughts were to get a similar Manfrotto tripod to that used by Nick, the cost of this was a bit of a stumbling block, I didn’t want to spend too much money putting this together on my first attempt. After a brief browse around I found that a standard lighting rig tripod would give me the reach required and would be stable enough at full height. This led me to the Gorilla Stands website where they have a nice variety of stage, lighting and disco stands. I settled on their GLS-100 Heavy Duty Lighting Stand and after looking round I found these for £39.95 a pair, with a carry case!

These turned up pretty quickly and, when unpacked, were easy to setup and looked ideal for my plans. I did notice that both tripods had a broken knob, a quick call to the supplier had new ones on their way that same day (The stands come with a lifetime warranty!).

Next up, make it mobile! The stand legs are 25mm in diameter and come with rubber feet.

25mm legs with rubber feet

As I wanted to be able to move my stand around easily it was simple enough to find some swivel casters on eBay to fit these, the added bonus being that they also had a small brake integrated.

25mm braked swivel casters

Ok, so now it’s mobile, time to work on an easy mount for the APs. I wanted to find an easy method to mount the variety of APs we use for surveying, the lighting bar across the top is quite long and I thought about cutting it down but decided to leave it at its full length for two reasons:

  • One end could be used for cable tying ‘brackets to
  • The other end could have a semi-permanent bracket in place for mounting a wider range of APs

The cable tie end of the bar was easy, I’m just going to leave a handful of spares in the tripod bag for changing the bracket if required.

Cable tied bracket

Many APs now come with brackets built in or included to allow them to be simply mounted on a suspended ceiling rail. I decided that I wanted to try and incorporate this type of fitting into my top rail.

I bought a small length of 24mm T-rail from a local suspended ceiling distributor and cut it to around 30cm in length.

30cm T Rail

I have a very under utilised 3D printer at home so I fired that up and quickly designed a couple of push fit brackets that would hold the T-rail and slide over the square section top bar.

T Rail brackets

As a first prototype they didn’t turn out too badly, after a little bit of filing they all fit together quite nicely (I need to play with the print settings again to get a better top layer finish). The assembly slides nicely over the top bar so that I can remove it to replace the T-Rail or brackets if needed.

T-Rail and Bracket assembly in place

I have tried a number of APs with 24mm suspended ceiling brackets and fitting and they all clip in very easily.

Overall, I am very happy with how this has gone so far, there are a few things I am planning to experiment with like changing the orientation of the brackets to allow the AP to be sited closer to a ceiling, but at the moment I think this will be a very good start.

AP near ceiling

So, how much did it cost?

Just under £40 so far

  • Tripod including a carry bag) £19.98 (£39.95 for 2)
  • Swivel casters £15.99
  • 1200mm length of 24mm T Rail £2.88
  • 2 x 3D printed brackets £0.48

The length of T rail will be enough for me to make 4 of these and I have since found the casters at another eBay shop for £13.99.

Whats next?

So the next step is going to be to get power to the AP, there are a number of off-the-shelf products out there that look great for this but in my usual fashion, I fancy trying to make something that will do the job – watch this space!

I want to make one!

Ok, here are the links to the places I bought my parts from, I’m not endorsing them, they are simply the places that I found what I needed, I don’t get anything from any of these seller/shops etc.

  • Gorilla Stands Tripod

  • 25mm Swivel Casters

  • 24mm Suspended T-Rail (collected from distribution centr

  • 3D Printed Brackets – Thingiverse

If you have found this post useful please feel free to ping me on twitter or leave a comment! It would be great to hear your thoughts on any improvements etc.


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