Golf Cart Light Stand Gets Tested

I was finally able to take the Golf Cart Light Stand out for a little testing yesterday.  Perfect testing environment — a no-pressure model shoot on a typical summer blistery cold and windy San Francisco beach.

AWP_9897

Here’s a pull-back shot of me with the light stand.  Sand doesn’t quite make for an even surface, so I was able to stress the light stand at various non-level angles.

highres_391960492

  1. Portability — great. I was able to take it apart two sections (lightstand and softbox from the cart) very easily. The cart folds up into about 24″ x 34″ and it’s fairly light (about 11 lbs) because it’s mainly aluminum. I think it took me about 3 minutes to put it together from the car. First you expand the cart, put the camera bag on, secure the lightstand with a thumbscrew, and then secure the softbox with a thumbscrew.
  2. Manueverability — The cart, when the wheels are extended all the way out, is slightly narrower than a width of a standard doorway, so I had to be careful going through doorways as I pushed it out from my house, but there was no problem fitting through them. On the beach, I had expected the wheels to skid or dig into the sand, but they rolled along fine. As with anything in the sand, you do still have to fight it when pulling and forget pushing. I’m guessing I had about 35 lbs, including the cart. That said, on flat ground, it was a piece of cake to push and turn.
  3. Stairs — I didn’t expect stairs that I needed to go down to the beach, but it was a good test. I had someone help me going down, but I was able to pull it up one step at a time without any problems. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I could have pushed it down one step at a time without any problems. It helps to make sure the lightstand is contracted all the way to keep the center of gravity towards the middle.
  4. Stability — the wind was kicking up quite a bit, and the softbox swayed, but the cart did very well. There was one time that I had the cart sitting slightly at a sideway angle and had to catch it when the wind caught it, but that was more my fault for not keeping the cart more level. Other than that, the weight of my gear bag was good enough to keep it steady. So my advice here would be to make sure the softbox is at the center of gravity as much as possible, especially when it’s extended up.
  5. Practicality — Throughout the shoot, everything except my camera was on me as you can see in the photo above. Everything else was in my camera bag which was acting as a sandbag. I was also carrying a 8 lb. tripod (with head) on the cart as well (you can see it strapped to the shaft of the cart in the photo above), so imagine having to carry around lightstand, tripod, camera, camera bag, and sandbag around separately a pretty large beach. I didn’t have to do multiple trips to the car and I really didn’t need any help. I do find it easier to push it around in the wind when I contracted the lightstand to keep the center of gravity low, especially on sand. But I didn’t find it to be a hassle at all doing that. Once I got home, I took the cart and hosed down the wheels, and everything looks as good as new!

Here’s the last shot of the day using the light stand…

AWP_0053-4108

DIY Golf Push Cart Light Stand

This is a quick how-to on making your own portable light stand that’s built on a golf push cart.

The inspiration of my design is based on the original by Peter Nguyen, and a follow-on by Joseph Philbert.  Both these solutions were based on the Bag Boy brand of golf push cart and requires drilling a hold to clamp the light stand to the golf cart shaft.  There was also a similar solution (sorry, lost the link) using a CaddyTek SuperLite Deluxe Golf Push Cart.

My solution is based on last design using the CaddyTek SuperLite Deluxe Golf Push Cart.  This cart can be bought from Amazon for a fairly reasonable $80.

Here’s the finished product…

AWP_9420-4103

The total cost of parts for this DIY solution — about $170, of course, not including the light, battery, softbox, gear bag, reflector, and water bottle.

My solution uses the Impact Telescopic Collapsible Reflector Holder for the light stand.

AWP_9442
The tip is 3/8″, not the usual 5/8″ found on typical light stands.  But this seems to work fine with my speedlite adapter and my Einstein strobe.  I’ll refer to this reflector holder as a light stand from now on.

AWP_9443

Next, you’ll need the Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp along with the Avenger E600C 5/8-Inch Snap-In Steel Pin for Super Clamp.

AWP_9422

Connect the two like this…

AWP_9423

The Superclamp comes with a little wedge that can be placed in the jaw to clamp onto a flat surface.  Make sure that wedge is in place.  The above photos show it in place, but it doesn’t come pre-connected to the clamp.  Here’s how the wedge looks separated from the clamp.

AWP_9425

Before connecting the clamp to the golf cart shaft, stick a strong velcro to the top and bottom of the shaft where you’ll put the clamp.  I use the Velcro Brand Industrial Strength Tape-Black.  Before putting sticking the velcro, it’s a good idea to see where you will want to position the Superclamp.

Make sure to tighten as much as you can without bending the shaft.  This is what’s going to secure the reflector holder and softbox while they’re swaying in the wind.

AWP_9426

Connect the reflector holder to the stud and tighten.

AWP_9430

Straighten the post of the light stand.  It should be vertical and touching the shaft at the bottom.  Adjust the post to be about 6 inches off the floor.  Secure the post to the shaft with a long strip of non-adhesive double-sided velcro (non-adhesive so that you can easily remove the light stand.)  This will help limit sideway movement of the post and will put less pressure on the clamp.

AWP_9435

This is how everything should look connected.

AWP_9439

So just to re-cap, here’s the shopping list for this project, with links to Amazon:

  1. CaddyTek SuperLite Deluxe Golf Push Cart
  2. Impact Telescopic Collapsible Reflector Holder
  3. Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp
  4. Avenger E600C 5/8-Inch Snap-In Steel Pin for Super Clamp
  5. Velcro Brand Industrial Strength Tape-Black

I’ll post some future enhancements that you can make to this solution to make it even more useful.

Now go make it!