Visual Hollowing System #1: Getting Started

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Blog entry by TheDane posted 01-09-2015 09:08 PM 3747 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Visual Hollowing System series Part 2: Using the Rig »

Several months ago, Captain Eddie Castelin was experimenting with a video hollowing rig on one of his podcasts.

I had had some prior experience with video surveillance equipment, so I decided to do some experimentation. My objective was to use inexpensive, readily available technology to provide a safer, more reliable means of hollowing bowls and vessels.

There are several commercial systems on the market that may provide more in the way of functions and features and, depending on your individual needs, may be more appropriate for your shop.

Last year, I acquired Ron Brown’s ‘Turners Laser Guide’ ( ), and for Christmas 2014, LOML (aka SWMBO) gave me a ‘Simple Hollowing System’ from Harrison Specialties ( ), so with a modest investment in some electronics and an old TV, I was good to go.

The requirements for my setup are pretty straightforward:

—A TV set (or monitor) with a Composite Video (often called A/V or NTSC) input. On most TV sets that have Composite, A/V, or NTSC inputs, the video input on the set is yellow. Check the owner’s manual for your set to make sure you are using the correct input.

—I bought an inexpensive piece of acrylic and a set of fine point dry erase markers so I don’t have to write directly on the TV screen.

—A miniature TV camera. I chose a wireless camera and receiver ( ) that is used in surveillance systems. This particular camera comes with a wireless receiver, antenna, power cables, and video cable to attach to a TV or monitor. I made a simple plywood stand for the receiver so it can sit upright with the antenna pointing up.

—Hollowing tools. I have a set of John Jordan hollowing tools that I use in conjunction with Ron Brown’s laser guide.

—To use Ron Brown’s rig, I made a simple adapter with a scrap of plywood and a dowel that is hot-glued to the back of the camera. The dowel was sized to fit where the laser Ron Brown provides would otherwise be installed.

The only other requirement is a ruler or measuring device to use as a target so you can set the wall thickness you want for your turning. I use a piece of plywood that has lines every 1/8”. Using this, I have been able to get wall thicknesses between 1/8” and 1/4”.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

3 comments so far

View kweinert's profile


41 posts in 4080 days

#1 posted 01-09-2015 09:49 PM

Looking at doing the same thing, so I’m following along.

Quick question: have you actually used this much yet? I only ask because the reviews for this camera are atrocious. But you know how reviews are – I’d rather have feedback from one knowledgeable person than a whole raft of strangers.

-- Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward. But properly learned, the lesson forever changes the person.

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3645 days

#2 posted 01-09-2015 10:21 PM

As a newbie turner, I haven’t done any hollow forms. Heck, I don’t even own any hollowing tools or rig.
I remember The Captain’s podcast and I want to try this one day…. who hasn’t said that!!!

Looking forward to seeing you put this to use and the whole setup through it’s paces.

Thanks, for taking the time to document and share this.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View TheDane's profile


5914 posts in 4633 days

#3 posted 01-09-2015 10:58 PM

Quick question: have you actually used this much yet? I only ask because the reviews for this camera are atrocious.

I’ve been using the camera with Ron Brown’s rig for about 3 months (I used his laser for about 6 months before that). The camera is pretty marginal in terms of video quality, but I haven’t had any problems with it (I had some previous experience using these cameras in other applications). A friend of mine ordered one … it arrived with one of the two power supplies DOA. I suggested he just order another one and return the original through Amazon.

If you do some shopping, there are many options available for mini-CCTV cameras. A higher-priced model may yield better results.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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