View Full Version : DIY Zeppelin/Windscreen

Jim Brennan
03-25-2005, 11:42 PM
I've been working on a DIY Zeppelin/Windscreen, and I have had some success. For the frame I am using a solid sheet of plastic, rolled into a cylinder with domes on the ends. My concern, naturally, is what to do about letting the sound pass through naturally. I was originally planning on drilling a number of holes through the plastic. But I am unsure of how large to make them, and how to space them. I am also concerned about whether the places in the frame where there is no hole would create an unfavorable acoustic response.

My next question is (assuming that drilling holes would work) do I need to drill holes through out the shell? Since I am using a hypercardiod and I only want the sound from the front, would drilling holes in the front be sufficient? Or would the off axis response cause a problem being so close to a solid surface?

Finally, what is the optimum amount of dead space to allow between the mic and the zeppelin?

I know it's a lot of questions, but if this works, I'll share my idea, and some of you can make one for a few bucks.

Thanks for any input.

03-26-2005, 12:38 AM
Here's something i lifted to give you some alternative ways of looking at your project. enjoy!

DPA WINDPAC is nothing less than a technological breakthrough with windshield systems for microphones!


This new revolutional windshield with a universal microphone mount is developed by DPA Microphones is cooperation with one of the most experienced sound engineers in the Danish film industry, Jan Juhler.

The DPA WINDPAC-M is an ultra-lightweight, multi-mic compatible, wind proofing solution for location recording. Comprised of just two components - a shock mount and a collapsible windshield - the WINDPAC-M is extremely effective, convenient and easy to use. The WINDPAC-M system weighs just 270 g (9 oz).

The shock mount is universal and can be used with any microphone without the need for clips or any other fittings. This 'one size fits all' feature is accomplished by the use of adjustable elastic straps with different settings to accommodate any microphone. The shock mount itself is suspended on a web of rubber straps providing an excellent damping effect by absorbing shock from any external disturbances.

The collapsible zeppelin-like windshield is made from an innovative fabric which blocks wind noise in gusts of up to 38 m/s (85 mph) while allowing accurate sound reproduction and audio transparency. The WINDPAC-M, with medium windshield, fits any microphone length up to 30 cm (11.8 in).

Simple operation is at the heart of the WINDPAC. Mounting the windshield onto the shock mount is just a matter of sliding and clicking it into place, a quick and easy process which results in extremely low handling noise. The windshield itself can be quickly collapsed in a simple twisting motion and stored away in its own small carrying pack.

The WINDPAC-M is supplied with a mono cable and belt pouch.

03-26-2005, 08:08 AM
The windpack seems to be awesome, especially with the added protability, but 850 bucks? I mean, doesn't rycote zeppelins seem expensive enough?

I just hope with the popularization of the windpack, we'll see more and more used rycotes selling on the web... But at that price range, they better be absolutely perfect...

03-26-2005, 08:27 AM
Ok, I am no audio master by any means, so please take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm not 100% sure on this, but I believe that drilling holes in plastic as your acoustically transparent material will prove to give you an undesirable effect. If I were to do it, I would get something similar to the type of netting you would find on a camping tent, you know the kind where you can leave it open and keep bugs out/ventilate the tent. I would try and attatch that around some sort of frame, because I think the plastic is going to make things weird. I probably sound like an idiot, but I am just offering my two cents, even though they dont make sense....

Jim Brennan
03-26-2005, 09:28 AM
ACtually that's what I am concerned about.

10s, thanks for that info. But if I had 850 beans to shell out, I wouldn't be up until 2 in the morning trying to make one.

03-26-2005, 10:12 AM
YES, but you can figure out how to make one of these. It's essentially similair to an umbrella that is partially open.

03-26-2005, 10:16 AM
I think the key here is to find a material with the least possible density while still being able to dampen the wind. I think a fine/tightly woven mesh would give a nice effect. You could also try sandwiching a thin layer of foam between two layers of more ridgid mesh. A fabric store would be a good place to look. Seems to me that when my mom used to do needle point, she used this grid mesh that was sort of ridgid.

http://image.herrschners.com/itm_img/WW068653.jpg something like this?

Jim Brennan
03-26-2005, 10:20 AM
I see what you are saying to some degree. I'll take a closer look at it. Thanks.

03-26-2005, 10:51 AM
Take a 3" plastic circle (ring) attach 6 to 8 flexible plastic rods to it that extend the distance and a bit more than the length of the mic. Attach it to another circle ( ring) that will act as a cap.

Find some fabric that will not let a lot of wind through it, Test by blowing hard through it up close. An hour at a fabric store will solve this. Make sure it'll hold up to some abuse & weather.

Sew the fabric much like an umbrella with slots for inserting the rods. The end caps will need their own sewing job.

The attachment to the mic and boom pole get tricky, so if you get this far you can figure the rest out.

Good luck. ...then you'll have something that is near state of the art!

03-26-2005, 01:51 PM
You can go to any hardware store and buy a small piece of livestock wire... or whatever you want to call it. It will be cut off a roll (or come as a roll) and it will be metal with 1/2" square openings. You can easily make this round and bind it into a tube. If you really wanted to do it right you could take two pieces of aluminum or wood... about 1" wide and screw them together and around the seam of where the screen wraps around... then you can drill and mount your shoe mount (or whatever) to the aluminum. Finally all you need is a shear black sock (ladies or mens dress) and stretch that to fit around your creation. You should have at least 3/4" to 1" of dead air around the mic body.

Did you follow any of that?

03-26-2005, 02:01 PM
Thats a really good idea......Just make sure the sock doesn't rip, and figure out how you mount the mic inside.

03-26-2005, 02:25 PM
Cheesecloth is very good for what you are proposing to do. You will also need some sort of furry to further kill the wind. You can pick some fake fur at a sewing store for that. I have seen attempts at homemade blimps before and some block out the wind pretty well. Problem is they were heavy and difficult to get mic quickly mounted into.

A lot of outdoor shots that require zeppelins are rather wide and require a 10 to 20 foot boom extension. You mount a heavy homemade zeppelin on a long pole and your boom man will be useless in a very short amount of time and you might even break your boom pole. Just some things to keep in mind when you are designing this.

Best of luck and keep us posted of your progress.

PS-Zeppelins can be found for fairly cheap if you buy used. Here is one on ebay right now.


03-26-2005, 03:44 PM
That one is 22" long! Hopefully I'm the only one on this board who can use one that long 'cause I think I'll bid on it. I agree that if you can just buy what you need then that would be best... but since I've bought 3 of 'em so far I can tell you that when you look at it you'll think, "THIS is what I paid hundreds for!?!"... It's amazing that somebody can't come up with a really professional looking solution for 1/3 what these sell for. If it was a mass-produced item in WalMart it would be $5... but since they are made in such limited supply THAT is why we get bung-holed on 'em.

As for my basket idea, you could mount rubber bands (or rubber tubing) spaced apart, tied directly to the wire... and there's your mount.

Jim Brennan
03-26-2005, 04:02 PM
THese are great tips. I really am trying to take my time and make something that will do the job, be fairly lightweight, be easily mountable and look professional enough that no one will notice. I've been trying a number of ideas, and think I am onto something. Keep the suggestions coming, and I'll let you know how it comes out.

03-26-2005, 11:50 PM
Another source of "cage parts" is a really big pet shop. Some of the bird cages are not way off as blimps... and there's a little cage-type cat ball with a bell in the middle... I took out the bell and put fur on that ball... and that's my bomb-proof lav blimp. I put that on my nephew's football uniform and recorded the in-play dialog between him and other players... while never worrying about my $300 MKE2 lav.

If you're like me then you always look at ordinary items and find ways to apply them to unintended uses... There are a lot of things which work perfectly for other uses... with just a few minor modifications... and that sometimes saves HUNDREDS of dollars. Every now and then you get lucky and the modded item looks just like a pro solution anyway.

One time, just for laughs, I cut the head off a stuffed duck... took out the fiberfil and used it as a furry on my ENG mic... It was great for the reaction it got when I stuck it in people's faces... and more amazingly it worked okay as a windscreen. If you find a stuffed ball or some portion of a stuffed animal with whispy-light fur on it... then you've got 90% of a decent furry. About the only thing you have to be aware of is that the fur not be too dense and change the sound of the mic... (even a Rycote Softie changes a mic some... but not too much)

Jim Brennan
03-27-2005, 08:38 AM
That's the attitude I'm trying to go with. My wife is good at helping me think that way. SHe convinced me to try this project with some wire mesh and one of those gizmos you put a baseball hat in to wash it. It's working well so far.

Jim Brennan
03-27-2005, 07:56 PM
Okay, I'm still making progress. Right now the problem is not the zeppekin itself, but making it easy to mount to the suspenion system I'm using. But I think I have that licked. The fact that I've never seen one of these close up doesn't help.

But I do have another question. I went to home depot looking for a bolt that was the same size and thread count to attach to a typical mic holder. I had no luck.. Any suggestions? I want to make a pistol grip for the zeppelin.

Jim Brennan
03-28-2005, 08:37 PM
The "cage" and mounting system are pretty much done. I'll post some pics when I get a chance. It was pretty simple.

I am prepared to make a furry for it, but I wanted to wrap the cage in some foam. Matt (I think it was you) mentioned some type of air conditioner filter that was an open-celled foam. Does anyone know where to find that? I looked at Lowes today and all they had were furnace filters, none of which were foam. I plan on wrapping that around the cage very neatly, and then putting a stocking over that and sewing up the edges so it all stays in place. That should work under mild wind conditions, and I can make the furry for the times when it's really bad.

03-28-2005, 08:52 PM
You can buy microphone windscreen foam in 1/4" x however much you want in square feet. Trew sells it and so do many other suppliers. I don't think you have to have mic foam... so long as the foam is either open-celled or not too dense. You may find experimenting with some different fabrics to be the answer. The DPA thing... which I think is a total rip-off... doesn't use ANY fur... it's a fabric sleeve that may have a thin layer of foam under a light fabric... then that's sewn as a single layer wrap... and it's the extra dead air space that makes the DPA so effective. It's the size of the SPACE that makes these things work... so if you increase the airspace you reduce the need for fur and end up with a more transparent sounding screen. I've even considered making a double-blimp so that fur is completely unneccessary.

Jim Brennan
03-28-2005, 10:08 PM
I have a good amount of airspace. The cage is about 4.5 inches in diameter. The foam is for aesthetic reaons as well. I am hoping it will smooth out some of the rough edges (like where the diferent materials that make up the cage meet). With a nice tight piece of material (like a stocking) over that, it should look pretty good.

If I am thinking of the right kind of foam (as mentioned in my previous post) it is about 1/4" think. I found that post with the reference to the air conditioner filter. It was Powerdog that posted it. It's available at Sears for 2 bucks, so I'll give that a try first.

BTW, I plan on leaving the foam windscreen on my mic inside the zeppelin. Is that okay?

I hope to have this all done by the end of the week. I'll keep y'all posted.

03-28-2005, 11:02 PM
Foam cut high freqs a little, which is OK but it does take them away a bit. It's the low feqs that are trouble for me. Sometimes a high pass filter will cut the low rumble freqs but often we need to use a dead kitty for extra wind control...... & they're cool.

DPA, I think use the be B&K, a name that implies the very top of audio gear (mics) is a good product and Yes, it's way over priced, but the idea is adaptable for DIYers and given their reputation, it's a top quality design, in other words, the very best.

03-29-2005, 07:50 AM
Yeah, leaving the foam screen on your mic inside of the blimp is fine. This is a normal step when people want even more windprotection then a blimp provides. Sometimes I do it, but most of the time I don't... you'll have plenty of time to experiment and it sounds like you'll end up with a versatile package for different wind conditions.

The more you put between a mic and the sound source the more you affect the sound... but in my experience it takes a pretty rediculous amount of windprotection to notice the change in the sound of the mic... unless you are really trying to analyze it. I can go from long-haired Softie to bare mic and you notice the mic is a little more crisp... but in the context of a video you'd never notice it unless it's a quiet little scene with one or two actors... and when you're outdoors you'll ALWAYS have something on the mic anyway... and you'll ALWAYS have other sounds as part of the soundtrack.

Keep us posted... this has been a fun thread for me. I love DIY stuff.

Jim Brennan
03-29-2005, 08:19 AM
Thanks. Maybe I rationalize too much, but I am glad that I'm broke sometimes. First of all it helps me analyze and prioritize what I really need. Second, being forced to make what I can, I have a better understanding of how and why this stuff works. There is also a feeling of satisfaction in it. Of course, I wouldn't mind finding 30 grand under my pillow...

Jim Brennan
03-29-2005, 11:55 AM
OKay I guess this isn't the best time of year to buy a filter for an air conditioner.

I posted some pics of the cage


The pics didn't come out as well as I'd hoped (still new to this part of cyberlife) but you'll get the idea. Some explanation by pic name

ZEP 1 (and a summary of the project) This is the whole cage, with the mike and mount (Sennheiser MZSCAM). I just took the two halfs of a baseball cap washing thingie, and clipped off the brim and the outer ring. I squeezed one into a section of wire mesh (left over from redoing my attic vents to keep critters out) about 4.5 inches in diameter. I did this instead of more wire because I wanted the ends to be rounded like the pro ones. I used some wire to attach the pieces. I cut a slot in the bottom (size will depend on the mount, and where you want the mike) to slide the mount in. Then I took a piece of scrap aluminum (mine was from the channel for the metal studs when I finished my basement) I cut it up the middle the same length as my the slot I had cut in the mesh, then bent the pieces back to the width of the slot, crimping them to the wire mesh. I covered it in gaffers tape after the 3rd time I cut myself. I then cut 2 of the sections off of the other half of the ball cap thingie, so that I would be able to slide the mic and mount in the back, placing the gap on the bottom. I attached it the same way as the front. I placed the mount inside where I wanted it and drilled a hole in the piece of scrap aluminum, marking where to drill into the shockmount base. Using a tapping set (1 bit and one threader) the right size for the threaded knob I purchased, I drilled and tapped the shockmount base to line up with the hole in the aluminum on the cage. I put the mount back in, and screwed the knob through the aluminum into the shock mount base. Worked great. Mounting took about 20-30 seconds the first time. FAster after that. I had some of these materials laying around, but the hat thing cost 2.50 at Wal Mart, the knob was about 2 bucks(?) and the tapping set was 4 and change (but I already had a tapping handle, which you will need). So my materials outlay for this was 10 bucks. Yours will be a little higher if you don't have some of this stuff.

ZEP 3 A closer look at the interior. You can see the threads from the knob coming through the base of the shockmount. Don't be intimidated about tapping the base of the mount. It's soft aluminum I think. Very, very easy if you are at all familiar with a drill.

ZEP 4 From the bottom. You can get a good look at the shape and size of the aluminum plate on the bottom, with the knob. Clipping two of the spokes (or whatever you call them) from the hat thingie gives me plenty of room to slide the mic in and line it up. Once I decide on a cover, I will have a flap attached that I will secure with a snap (or velcro) to cover the gap after the mic is installed.

ZEP 6 Just a closer look at the interior.

It doesn't look pretty at the moment, but once it's covered it will look fine. As soon as I am done with that part of the project I'll post pics of that as well.

But it was cheap, it's effective, and it mounts fast. Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Jim Brennan
04-04-2005, 06:15 PM
So now I'm working on the Furry. I've found some stuff that works well, and I have tried a few different ways to attach it. The simplest way is velcro. Is that a problem? I was wondering about the velcro rustling in any way when the boom moves, or in hih winds. Anyone ever encounter this?

04-04-2005, 07:32 PM
VJ... no problem on the velcro. I've got a couple Rycote Blimps and one of the furrys (or is it furries?) uses velcro and one uses a drawstring (oddly enough)... the drawstring furry is about 1 year newer then the velcro one... but I've never encountered any noise introduced by either one.

Hey I'm over at DVinfo also and I decided to start posting some little clips to explain my approach on doing stuff cheap. I've got a mix of gear that's in the top tier and also a bunch of DIY stuff... so I thought why not show how I come up with some of the cheap stuff.

Mic BLIMP... Part One... CLICK for video. (http://www.gettreel.com/The%20Cheapest%20Blimp%20PART%201.wmv)

Jim Brennan
04-05-2005, 08:34 PM
Cool idea Matt. Thanks.

I did a test with the furry on today (Very windy in Colorado today) and it worked great. It was weird to be able to hear all the ambient noise with no rustling of the mic. Then I took off the blimp, just using the foam wind screen, and the rustling was just about all you could hear.

04-13-2005, 10:47 AM
OKay I guess this isn't the best time of year to buy a filter for an air conditioner.

I posted some pics of the cage


I'm trying to see the pictures, and all I get is a snapfish login screen...

Jim Brennan
04-13-2005, 02:48 PM
Sorry, try this


04-15-2005, 05:00 AM
Jim, what kind of fur are you using?

04-15-2005, 10:59 AM
Creative and nice work there VJ. Are you using some mesh covering or is it just going to be the furry? What is the weight of that thing?

Again, most impressive work there.

Daniel Skubal
04-16-2005, 01:07 PM
Here's a copy and paste of a post I made in a few other forums. I just made this beast last night. Works great:

You know what's funny? Blimps for microphones cost almost as much as the microphone does. Following in the lines of Liza, I felt like making my own. I took a little trip to the hardware store to find anything that resembled a blimp, and I struck gold. I found a gutter filter that keeps leaves from clogging the downspout. So I picked up two of those. 1.99$ a piece. I then went and got a sealant ring for faucets (.06 cents) and some clear plastic tubing ($0.19 a foot) so I could make a sleeve for my microphone to fit into, so it wouldn't be scratching up against the metal gutter filter. I then took a trip to walmart and picked up some fur. I was able to get a 12x15" piece of fur for 2.98$.

So here's how I made it:

I made the sleeve first, to make sure the microphone would fit properly. I did this by slitting the plastic tubing down the middle, and inserting the sealer ring into it.

Next, I bent the two filters to fit together and to fit around the ring.

I then took the top off a pringles can, slid it into the gutter filters. (this was to have a support for my mic once inside the blimp.)

Next, I took some hobby wire that I had lying around, and sewed the pringles lid, and the two pieces together.

I then took the fur, turned it upside down, folded it over and sewed it together (handsewing was a bitch) and took 4 hours to do.

I flipped the sock inside out and slid it on. I was originallly going to sew it to the cage, but it wouldn't hold it, so I took more of the hobby wire and "sewed" the end of the sock to the end of the cage. It worked really well.

It took me about 5 hours to make the whole thing, and it was well worth it.

$7.21 for a blimp that costs 20x that amount.

AND it works great! I held it up to a fan on high, and slipepd my headphones on to hear it, and there was no wind noise. Voices are not muffled either. So it is very worth it to build one of these.

Here's the images that will help you visualize what I did.


04-16-2005, 01:53 PM
This looks excellent although I would try to cut away much of the pringles cap leaving open space for about four small post extending toward the ring holder in the center. Here's why, the polar pattern of shotgun mics have a slight flare out to the side and a considerable flare toward the rear. This is where the pringles lid can get you into some trouble....wave disruption and wave cancellations. Other than that...you hit this one out of the ball park.


Daniel Skubal
04-16-2005, 02:51 PM
I didn't even think about that, I may redo the suspension... switch out the pringles can with a suspended rubber ring or something... maybe even just some stretched cloth... I'll test that.

Jim Brennan
04-19-2005, 08:20 PM
Yes, that looks great. The furry looks very pro. You might try rubber bands for your suspension. I used them on a lamp harp as a shock mount for a year. It worked great. You just need to be able to put a new one on quickly in case it breaks.

Sorry I haven't answered some of the questions posed to me sooner, I was out of town.

Wabbit "Are you using some mesh covering or is it just going to be the furry? What is the weight of that thing?"

I'll cover it with a black stocking when I'm done and see if that does anything without the furry. If it cuts down on the wind any, I know I'll have an in-between option. My furry sounded good, but there was a very slight loss of the higher frequencies that I noticed with headphones on. It's better than the rumble of the wind, but If I can avoid it I will.

I don't know the weight of it exactly, but it seems super light. Maybe I can bring it to the post office and put it on one of their scales. The only one we have here is for weighing middle aged filmmakers. I'll let you know.

adaml: "Jim, what kind of fur are you using?"

Just some stuff I found on sale at the Wal Mart fabric department. It's a short fur, not as nice looking as the one dj200423 used. It seems to work fine, but I plan to keep trying different ones to what difference there really is. Once I get off my ass and get it sewn (I'm using staples at the moment) I'll post some more pics.


Jim Brennan
04-22-2005, 09:25 AM
The cage and mounting plate weigh in at 6.5 oz. I'm not sure if that's a lot for this kind of thing.

I didn't include the shockmount or mic in the weight since I figured you wanted the additional weight.

04-22-2005, 12:16 PM
That thing looks awesome.

Jim Brennan
05-03-2005, 11:12 PM
I found that open-celled foam used for window air-conditioner filters at Home Depot. They were 50 cents a piece. I put it over the cage, then popped one of my wife's old stockings over it. I'll post some pics when I clean it up a bit, bit it looks good. My hope is that this will be an "in between" set-up that I can use outside with minimal wind. Something between the foam windscreen and the furry.

11-04-2005, 05:47 PM
I'm going to bump this thread instead of creating a new one, since there's already good info here.

I just ordered an Oktava MK012 and plan on going DIY for the shock mount (http://www.wiremonkey.com/diy_shock_1.htm) and some sort of wind protection over the mount. Some of these creations look like they may not fit over the 3" shock mount. Any ideas for a compatible solution for indoor use, and possibly extra wind protection for outdoor with the Oktava?

11-04-2005, 06:22 PM
Hey Vroom,
Thanks for resurrecting this. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking, I've seen a really detailed tutorial on a DIY shock mount, windsock, blimp, etc. It was the one you posted except the blimp and the windsock. The main page is http://www.wiremonkey.com/ Bunch of good stuff there.

11-04-2005, 07:11 PM
Yeah, I've gone over it a few times. I'm unaware if he figured out a different wind sock. And I was kind of wondering if a more convenient blimp could be adapted to fit over the shock mount.

Focus This!
11-04-2005, 08:42 PM
Have you try acoustical material...the kind of black material they make the speaker screens out of? I bought some at my local Hancock Fabrics...REAL ACOUSTICAL black material for about $8 a yard (44" wide).