November 25, 2010

Create an Economy Nodal / Marcro Rail

DIY Economy Nodal / Macro Rail
Basic concept:
Multifunction Nodal / Macro Rail that would be Arca-Swiss® compatible.
Length about 17cm. (6,7")
Double dovetail structured profile.
Complemented by a 5 cm (1.97") Arca-Swiss® compatible Quick Release Clamp with short screw knob.

After an extensive search on the net, I found some parts that fulfilled all the prerequisites for building up exactly what I had in mind.

Kiwi Fotos LP-169 Lens Plate

Kiwi Fotos LP-169 Lens Plate
Top view of the Kiwi Fotos LP-169 lens plate showing clearly the anti-slide ridge on one side and one groove and 3 holes on the other side for the attachment of Accessories.
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 Lens Plate - Bottom
Bottom view showing the M3 stop screws, the captive slots and two extra M3 tapped holes which function for securing accessories.
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 1/4-20 screw relocation
Relocation of 1/4"-20 captive screw. Also shown is the M3 stop screw and the two extra M3 tapped holes.
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 w/ M3 screws
If we intend to use both the M3 screws as stop screws, then we shall need 2 extra M3 screws...
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 - fitting additional M3 screws
...which will fit in the appropriate M3 tapped holes in order to secure the clamp on top and avoid twisting.

Fotopro QAL-500 Arca-Swiss® Compatible 5cm Quick Realease Clamp

Fotopro QAL-500 QR Clamp
Fotopro QAL-500 Arca-Swiss® Compatible 5 cm Quick Release clamp with 3/8-16 mounting tapped hole and short screw button with bubble level.
Quick Release plate and a 10mm long thread converter from 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16.
Fotopro QAL-500 QR Clamp bottom
Bottom view with two additional guide holes for M3 screws.
Fotopro QAL-500 QR Clamp extra M3 tapped holes
For better fastening on the rail and avoid twisting under load, I drilled 2 x M3 tapped holes.
Fotopro QAL-500 QR Clamp w/ extra M3 screws
Bottom view with two extra M3 screws
Fotopro QAL-500 QR Clamp w/ conversion bushing
Inserting and screwing the thread converter bushing...
Fotopro QAL-500 QR Clamp conversion bushing fitted
... until it is flash with the clamp top and secured in place.

Hejnar Photo Index Bars

Hejnar Photo Arca compatible Index Bars
Hejnar Photo Index Bars with soft tipped screws and Allen hex key. This proves a covenient solution for marking the exact nodal point for the lens in use for future reference.


Kiwi Fotos LP-169 - fitting Index Bar
The index bar should be attached before securing the clapmp, since the rail's ridge will not permit it afterwards.
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 - Index Bar on top dovetail
Index bar attached on the top dovetail and secured by the soft tip screws.
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 - Fitting the QAL-500 QR Clamp
Next, the Quick Release clamp should be tightened on the rail with one 1/4"-20 captive screw through the center hole.
And secured in place with two M3 screws in order to avoid twisting.
Kiwi Fotos LP-169 w/ QAL-500 QR Clamp final inspection
Final inspection confirming that the bushing has not loosened.
DIY Economy Nodal / Macro Rail
Ready ! Total weight 223 gr (7,86oz) Total cost approximately USD 65.00

This Nodal Rail was based on different parts gathered from eBay with a fraction of the cost of products of similar quality and function.
Was tested in various set ups and proved rigid and stable.
In further posts, I shall show how it can be utilized in:
Creating a Single Row Panorama Head,
Creating a Multi Row Panorama Head,
Using a Multi Row Panorama Head,
Creating an Economy 5-Way Precision Head
and as a Macro Slide Rail.

I hope you found the article helpful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2010 S.C.Vlachos

Referenced Articles:
Kiwiifotos LP-169 Lens Plate Review
Fotopro QAL-500 5cm Quick Release Clamp Review
Hejnar Photo Index Bars Reference


  1. This is pretty awesome, thanks for taking the time to put it together.

  2. Thank you for your comment, it's a pleasure that you find it useful.