Budget RTI Copy Stand

After a question from a colleague on how to create a budget RTI set up for museum-based study of moderately sized objects (eg palettes or stelae). Tripods, and ball heads, are expensive and do not fit in all research spaces. Copy stands have a lower footprint than a tripod, but are also expensive and are awkward to transport to museums.

In a previous post I outlined how I built a desk clamp copy stand from a darkroom enlarger column. These columns and their winders are getting harder to find, especially for decent prices. As an alternative, I have designed a similar stand using bar stock. T-section stock should provide sufficient strength, at minimum weight. If more strength were required, the T-section could be replaced with I-section without much change to the overall design.

The stand does not have the same ease as using a geared winder on a copy stand, but the dilled hole approach would still give plenty of adjustment flexibility for working with different sized objects. Height adjustment is achieved by moving the arm up and down the upright. There would be zero movement vertically once the arm was screwed in place – ideal for working with heavy cameras and lenses over ancient objects.

It would be best to paint the stand black, both for protection of the metal from corrosion (if using steel), and also to mitigate any reflections during the RTI process.

This could be built using aluminium, however mild steel would provide more strength and durability. Lengths of material can be sourced cheaply either online or in hardware shops. It also requires minimal tools to build:

  • Tape measure
  • Set square
  • Centre punch
  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • File/sandpaper
  • Taps
  • Spanners and/or socket set
  • Paint (eg Hammerite)

Scribbled design below, and I will draw a CAD version when I get a chance…