Manfrotto 685B NeoTec Monopod Foot Safety Cable

     Photographers have reported loosing the rubber base foot from their 685B monopod. I had heard similar stories of loosing the rubber grip from the 393 gimbal head, but while knowing of this I took no safety measures other than to keep an eye on mine. It didn't help. The grip disappeared one day despite my vigilance. Lesson learned, the hard way. I resolved not to let it happen with my monopod.

     Though the foot is a very snug fit, it will come off if you tug on it with enough force. One report mentioned the lost foot was "plastic", although the foot on my monopod was definetly rubber. Possibly Manfrotto realized the plastic foot was too easily lost and changed to a rubber foot in later production, or the report could be mistaken. In any event, I decided to take no chances.

     The left photos shows the foot snapped on the ball that screws up and down to expose the spike. The right shows the ball with the foot pulled off.
     What You Will Need for this project:
  • a drill and small drill bit
  • pliers
  • side cutters
  • crimping tool is optional (pliers can be used)
  • screwdriver or driver bit for drill
  • a 1 inch or 1-1/4 inch # 8 wood screw (small washer optional)
  • a short length of 1/8 or 3/32 stainless cable (6 inches is more than enough)
  • two crimp-on eyehooks for electronics wire or small crimp style wire connectors

  •      In the photo at right I show several kinds of crimpable wire eyehooks I had on hand. You may find other types of crimp-on wire or cable clamps. Once you see how I use these, you can better decide whether the style of crimp you have available will do the job.

         A loop of the cable I used is shown at left. It can be bought by the foot. Look in the hardware store in the chain and rope section. Among other things, I use it to suspend bird feeders since the squirrels cannot chew this in two, and it won't rust. It's tougher than nails, almost impossible to cut, cannot be broken, yet it's extremely flexible. It is the strength and flexibility you need here, and the stainless factor will avoid any rust or corrosion as well. You might accomplish this project with some sort of heavy duty polyester line like fishing line, and it will be easier to cut than the cable. But that means it could be damaged in use more easily as well.

    Step One - Remove the rubber foot and drill a small horizontal hole in it opposite the shaft notch or indent. This photo will show where to orient the hole. Do not drill too close to the inside of the foot where the ball rubs. As you can see, a screw will go here, and you don't want the threads chewing up the ball or binding it from free movement. Drilling rubber is very different from drilling most anything else. The rubber stretches around the drill bit and doesn't really drill out much of a hole, but it is necessary to have at least this guide hole for the screw. You may notice how well the rubber grabs the drill bit. You can imagine how tightly the screw will hold when done.

    Step Two - Prepare one of the eyehook clamps as shown at left. The extra eyehook is shown only so you can see what is hidden by the cable in the photo. Next, pull the cable into a tight loop to match the eyehook hole as shown in the photo at lower left, then crimp it tightly. You don't want the end to come out. It will be a bear to get back in. Try to keep the cut end of the cable just inside the clamp to avoid being scratched, or having the cable end catch on clothing. The cable strands are very tiny, fine and sharp. If there is anything for it to snag on or scratch, it will find it.

    Step Three - Prepare the loop for the other end of the cable as shown in the upper right photo. To make the clamp, I cut off the eyehook portion and just used the crimp shank alone. Once the loop is fed through, slip it over the threaded spike and ball while the rubber foot is still removed as shown at right. Slide the crimp and loop until you have a total reach of about 2-1/2 inches from loop end to loop end. Make the loop small enough so it will not slip off over the ball, but loose enough so it will easily spin around the spike shaft threads when you screw the ball and foot in or out to expose the spike end. It would even be a good idea to snap the foot on over the ball at this point and be sure the small cable loop and eyehook will easily reach the screw hole drilled into the foot. Be sure you have some slack there so the foot will tilt up into the shaft indent in the foot.

          While carefully holding the crimp in position, crimp it tightly. Then cut off the excess cable, being sure you do not nick or damage the strands in the piece of cable that stays. Cutting will be a chore because the cable is so flexible and tough. You will have to work at it with the side cutters, squeezing and wiggling side to side, then snipping at it a couple of strands at a time until you've managed to cut it through. Cut it as close to the crimp as possible. As I noted earlier, any strand ends hanging outside the crimp will tend to snag on clothing or skin if it gets a chance.

    Step Four - When you've cut off the excess cable, you can then snap the foot onto the ball and attach it with the screw as shown in the left photo. In the event you used a cable clamp without the eyehook end, you will very likely need a small washer over the screw to insure the cable loop does not slip off the screw head.

          The finished project is shown at right. If you wish, you can touch up the cable and screw with a small brush and some black paint to make it less visible. With this security cable installed, you should never need to worry about the foot coming off and getting lost.