A DIY Balcony Crane Lifts Groceries For The Lazy But Patient

If necessity is the mother of invention, then laziness is probably its father. Or at least a close uncle. Who hasn’t thought, “There has to be a better way to do this, one that doesn’t involve me burning precious calories”?

Motivational laziness seems to increase with potential energy, as anyone who needs to haul groceries up four flights of stairs will tell you. This appears to be where this balcony-mounted drill-powered crane came from. Starting with a surplus right-angle gearbox and drum, [geniusz K] fabricated the rest of the crane from steel plate and tubing. We like the quality of fabrication and the tip on making slip couplings from bits of square tubing. The finished product got a nice coat of brown paint to match the balcony railing; keeping the neighbors happy is always important. He tested the crane with a 20-kg weight before installing it on the balcony and put it to work hauling groceries up three stories. Check out the build and the test in the video below.

While it won’t set any speed records, at least the drill is doing the work. But what if you’re impatient as well as lazy? Aside from being two-thirds of the way to programming greatness, you may have to up the game. A heavy-lift quadcopter, perhaps?

39 thoughts on “A DIY Balcony Crane Lifts Groceries For The Lazy But Patient

  1. Overall I like it except not sure I trust the gearbox to spool coupling and fit overhead use I would have made sure to include a locking racket type pawl on the spool, (start with boat trailer crank)

  2. 1.) Put a remote control on it like a cheap Wi-Fi or Bluetooth adapter found on eBay so you can operate it from the ground, just one person. 2.) Make it also remotely deployable e.g. push a button and it appears, push another button and it stows out of sight. Then you can sell more of the contraptions to your neighbors and not have complaints from the apartment managers about a bunch of cranes suddenly appearing on balconies. Grin

  3. Next, add a remote so that the groceries get lifted up while you drag yourself up the stairs (and I guess we’ll ignore the risk of having a heavy bag fall and kill one of your neighbours for the moment).

    1. well if something drops then it is most likely because of the bag braking a handle of something falling out by the wind. The crane looks very solid and the steel cable is certainly capable of lifting a heavy bag, no worries there.

      1. Reminds me of in the Netherlands and maybe some big cities in the U.S., that there were more houses/buildings with I think “I” beams on the top floor or maybe on the roof where a rolling lift attachment for what I guess at one time was block and tackle was used to lift heavy items up to each floor so they could pull in the item being lifted. Those seemed heavy duty enough to lift a couple people.

        1. A lot of older buildings here have them, left over from when the buildings had top-floor warehouses. Some have even kept the door on the top floor, or at least have a window with a wooden partition under the sill.

        2. In Amsterdam in particular (by city mandate) each building over 3 floors without a lift needs to come with a lifting hook, originally intended for freight storage in the city’s warehouses but now regularly used for moving.

    2. im pretty sure given some other additions it would not be too hard to have the crane swing back into the balcony at the top of its travel, it could even be possible to make it so that the hook unloads the groceries at the top as well thus making it a one person operation from the ground.

  4. +1 for the guy’s skills and ingenuity. Of course he knows his way around his tools, but I do have to say that my skin crawled when I saw the unprotected fingers pushing the metal stock straight toward the cutting blade. Yikes!

    1. Meh. It’s a bandsaw. They don’t usually pull or throw the workpiece like other saws can, because the blade’s motion is perpendicular to the table. (An exception is when you’re crosscutting a dowel or other piece with a height that is similar to or greater than its dimension in the direction of the cut, in which case it can be rolled out of your grip.) And with a bandsaw, you need dexterity to follow the cut line (unless you’re using a fence or jig, but then you can only do certain shapes of cuts), which you don’t have with push sticks. And gloves would increase the risk of fingers getting caught and pulled in (because they’re larger than fingers, and they don’t tear away like skin does).

      I was concerned about what appeared to be bare-handed welding, before I realized he just has gloves that are the same color as his skin.

      1. Later in the video he was wearing gloves – the initial welding was bear handed.

        I have to admit often welding with out gloves- the added dexterity outweighs the chance of been burnt. Using mig with gas, the splatter is minimal so a bit of sunburn from the arc and don’t pick up the freshly welded metal lol

  5. I would add a permanent power and motor to it as well as a remote, so when I get back from the store, I don’t have to go up into the apartment, connect the drill and power it, lower the hook, go back down, hook up the groceries, go back up to the apartment, reel up the groceries, unhook them, go back down to hook up the second bag just to realise I forgot to lower the hook, go back up, lower the hook, go back down again to hook up the second bag of groceries …

    Yes, a remote would be very useful, as well as the addition of a limit switch, in order to avoid over winding the reel.

    After that, a nice to have would be a automated turning system of the crane and remote unhook.

  6. A nice addition to this would be some crates or nets with big hoops on them, for example with a piece of garden hose over a rope to keep the loop open.
    Then you can put a bunch of these on the lawn and do some fishing from the balcony to pick them up one by one.

  7. Very nice! The 2 additions I’d make are a level wind, and a freespool. The level wind just keeps the cable neater, and the freespool keeps you from waiting for the reduction when sending the hook down.

  8. I have wanted to do this for YEARS but for a dog to go to the bathroom. I’m in a wheelchair and live on the 4th floor, and it’s hard to take the dog out multiple times a day. Thanks for the design info! haha. Don’t worry, i wouldnt actually do it, but it’s a great idea :-p

  9. There is a missing floor!
    I suppose there is a story to this.

    “…as anyone who needs to haul groceries up four flights of stairs will tell you.”
    “…and put it to work hauling groceries up three stories.”

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