My wife’s cousin, the break-dancing radiologist, broke the microphone clip off my mic stand while singing karaoke on Thanksgiving (my wife and I host Thanksgiving at our house for the family every year). I had another microphone clip and replaced it so we could continue with karaoke, but I decided to keep the broken pieces of the old clip for the junk drawer.
I had forgotten about it for a few weeks but eventually came across the pieces of the mic clip. I noticed that the clip, when it broke, had sheared off flush with the top of the cap that screws on to the mic stand, and in the center of the cap was a hole. I’m not sure why this hole was manufactured through the microphone clip, but the hole meant that I could put a screw through it and attach it to something.
In previous articles I mentioned that you can use second hand stores like Goodwill, close-out stores like Big Lots, and dollar stores like Dollar Tree as inexpensive resources for hacks and mods. The United States is a disposable economy so products are designed with obsolescence built-in and it almost seems as if they are engineered to fail the day after the warranty expires. Hacks and mods are only limited by your imagination so, if something around your home breaks, of course you can elect to repair it, or you can decide to repurpose it. For example, as your incandescent bulbs burn out you can repurpose them as light bulb flasks that somewhat resemble Florence flasks for your home chemistry lab.
I decided not to repair my microphone clip and I’ll tell you why:
I didn’t have any airplane glue and I decided not to buy a tube, because now I know I can depend on the microphone clip to fail—when I need it the most. I’ve been a singer since I was 15 and a guitarist since I was 19. I’ve been in professional bands, garage bands, jam bands, and talent shows, and I’ve learned there’s only one certainty in show business: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Let’s say I decide to go to an open mic night. That mic clip is certain to fail right in the middle of a song. When the microphone falls off the stand it will hit the stage with a loud thud. And, like a slice of bread is guaranteed to always fall with the buttered side down, you can be sure that mic will be pointed right at the monitor speaker so the thud turns into ear-piercing, nerve jangling feedback.
Nope, it ain’t worth fixin’.
When I was a little kid most of my parents’ friends were physicians and professors. If your parents’ friends are MDs and PhDs it’s a pretty sure bet you’ll get science toys for Christmas like microscopes, telescopes, and chemistry sets. Ok, well, maybe not chemistry sets anymore.
If you’re a physician and you want to impress your friends, you can probably afford to get your friends’ kid a decent science toy. If, on the other hand, you’re a professor at university, and you’re not tenured, and you eat Spam and macaroni&cheese every night, and you sell your blood plasma so you can afford to buy Spam and macaroni & cheese, you might be tempted to get their kid the Emerson 50X100mm refractor telescope.
You can find them just about anywhere—I got mine at Walgreens for $20.00 USD. If you live in or near an urban area with lots of light pollution and you’re looking for an entry level telescope for yourself, it’s not a bad little refractor (it’s a vast improvement over stargazing with binoculars), but it is only suitable for the brightest magnitude objects. You can look at the Pleiades, the Orion Nebula, you can even make out the moons of Jupiter, and it provides decent views of our Moon. The problem with this little telescope is the farkakte tripod that comes with it. The pan and tilt movements tend to stick making it difficult to aim the telescope. And when you finally get the telescope pointed at your object, the tripod is so light and flimsy that all but the mildest breeze will cause the image to wobble.
I’m and adult and if I find it frustrating to operate, it probably won’t be a suitable science toy. Get your friends’ kid a microscope instead.
I decided to check and see how the telescope mount was connected to the tripod, and sure enough it was connected by a single screw. I used a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the bolt that fastens the mount to the tripod, and removed the bolt and washer.
Next I removed the telescope mount from the tripod. The black plastic cap is what the bolt screws into to hold the telescope mount on the tripod.
I verified that the bolt would fit through the hole on the mic stand screw cap. The screw cap is kind of small, so I had to use needlenose pliers to insert the screw and washer through the hole.
I used the Phillips screwdriver to fasten the mic stand screw cap to the tripod mount cap.
The last step was to screw the mic clip screw cap, with the telescope mount attached, onto the mic stand.
My mic stand is a Peavey and it has a heavy base and is much more stable than the Emerson tripod which eliminates the wobble caused by breeze. Panning is smooth, but do keep in mind as you pan to the left, you are loosening the screw and as you pan to the right, you are tightening the screw so, if you pan too far left it will eventually stop since you can’t tighten the screw any more. Tilt still sticks a bit, but two out of three ain’t bad.
You can set it on a level spot on your lawn but it would be better if you to set it on a flat paving stone if you have them—a concrete driveway would be better still. It’s easy to raise and lower the telescope if you prefer to sit on a lawn chair or cooler, but I prefer to just sit on the ground. Do remember to tighten the height adjustment once you’ve got your telescope set to a comfortable level.
Since the Peavey mic stand has a heavy base, it can double as a poor man's steadicam. You'll find that most designs for DIY steadicams are just a camera monopod with a weighted bottom.
I don’t recommend mounting a video camera that is heavier than the telescope. Most smaller consumer cameras and “youtube” cameras will work just fine.