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DIY Lasercut Camera Slider

DIY Lasercut Camera Slider

DIY Lasercut Camera Slider

In the right hands a camera slider can produce some stunning video shots but for some reason the prices just seem outlandish if you ask me!  Being something that I had wanted for a long time, the prices (starting around $400) just seemed to keep the camera slider out of my arsenal of tools when it came to shooting video.   I know they are simple and yes there are plenty of decent designs for a DIY Camera Slider out there, but I hadn’t seen one that was lasercut.  After giving it a bit of thought, I considered using 8mm machined rod and linear bearings as the basis for my design.  After a couple of ours in 3D design mode and a trip to visit a friend to pick up supplies I was ready to start cutting some prototype parts.  This is a bit of a build log for my DIY Lasercut Camera Slider.

Downloads

 

Download the laser cutting files here. 30 inch DIY Lasercut Camera Slider (PDF – 80 KB)

 

 

What You Will Need To Build a DIY Lasercut Camera Slider

 

 

2 @ 20″ x 12″ x 1/8″ Hard Board (aprx $1.50)

1 @ 1/4″ x 20 x 3/4″ Standard Bolt (from any hardware store) (aprx $0.15)

2 @ 30″ x 8mm Machined Stainless Steel Rod (aprx $40)

4 @ LM8UU Linear Bearings (aprx $10)

1 @ Basic Tripod Head (aprx $5)

 

Tools Used

 

Wood Glue Full Spectrum 45w Hobby Laser Cutter (any laser cutter or CNC will work)

* If you don’t own a laser cutter, you might actually be surprised how accessible they actually are.  Search the internet for “hacker space”, “sign shop”, and even some libraries are now starting to own them.

 

Assembly Procedures

 

1) Cut out laser cut parts

2) Assemble using glue

3) Enjoy!

 

It really should only take about 30 minutes to put this all together and you can save around $350 and probably more if you buy the cheap Chinese stuff!

 

Conclusion

 

I quickly realized that it’s not quite as sturdy as I had expected.  The wooden base is OK but will bow if there is anything under it in the center which causes the cart to catch on the bottom.  I could easily overcome this with a slightly different base design but I also found that the 8mm smooth rod was not strong enough to support the weight of a DSLR camera with a decent sized lens on it.  the rods had too much flex.  I believe that I could overcome this with thicker rods and bearings or simply shortening the length.  After experimenting a little I think something along the lines of 12 inches might work fine for the kinds of shots I am looking for any ways.

 

One of the things I found interesting when  playing with this DIY camera slider with a simple video camera attached was the limited amount of travel which is required to begin getting that interesting dolly shot especially if the shot was a macro or table shot.  Strategically placing an object in the foreground helps exaggerate the motion.

 

Getting a consistent speed wasn’t too bad at mid to fast panning however getting a very slow pan for a macro shot was a bit difficult.  At first I thought that it would be simple to make a motion controlled slider and it would probably only need one speed.  Boy was I wrong, if I add a stepper I will definitely make sure I use some method to control the speed!

 

Next Steps

 

Next steps are to shorten the length, add some motorized control using a stepper motor, GT2 Belts / Gear, Arduino controller and a battery pack.

 

dave

8 Comments

  1. Wow nice!

    If it were stepper driven the flex might not be an issue..

    Here’s some thoughts….

    This is fairly demanding for hardboard…

    Perhaps the base could have some vertical member… If you have a look at http://inventorartist.com/isoscel-ease-drawing-robot/ you can see that the base is a box.

    It still has flex but here’s the surprise. The tension of the belts helps the situation.

    Another idea is to make the base a box with four sides. Fill the inside with foam or formers.

    You’re still left with the amount of flex in those shafts… I have some heavier ones in 30″ if you want to try them… but the weight goes up pretty fast as you saw by those bigger rails I brought to the last meetup.

    If you can get the box rigid, perhaps you can add some bearings to the truck to bear the weight? Check out this robot: http://inventorartist.com/painting-robot/

    It has rails but the bulk of the load is on a bearing being used as a roller…

    • I like the rolling bearing idea! That would certainly work if I could center the weight over the cart (not be lens heavy).

  2. When I mentioned the base having four sides, I meant like a tube… That can probably make a huge difference in rigidity…

    • Exactly what I was thinking if I was going to beef up the base. Either a box with internal members for support or possibly even something shaped similar to and I beam used in houses / buildings.

  3. I bet if the base were a box but the top surface had a V cross section, then the camera could ride on rotary bearings as wheels. The V would keep it on track… Perhaps just three or four “wheels”.

    And you could deploy one linear bearing to keep the truck in place. Then the rigidity is entirely from the base. Rather than having a rigid base AND a rigid rail. This would allow the deployment of the affordable smaller rail….

    Another material I keep around is extruded aluminum angle. I keep the 1″, 1/8″ on hand. It can be added to projects to increase rigidity a fair amount… Problem is it’s nice to have a drill press and miter box to process the stuff…

    Not 100 percent sure about your application but I can’t seem to get the idea of a stepper driving it out of my head. It could be perfectly smooth that way… and time lapse and stuff… You don’t actually need belts. A guy on the internet told me you can use 100lb test braided fishing line (I have some). Check out these 3d printers he made: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTkw0HBH-TQKWlwEt1Fl3Qg

    Another thing is to make the truck only and depend on flat surfaces. The truck could have steering too: http://www.revolvecamera.com/

  4. Other ideas:

    Supported rail
    Current version could be used with cell phone or small prosumer camera…

    • The current version actually works fine with the video camera you see in the photos. It was way too week for the DSLR though. The video camera should be suitable for the wedding shots I am working on next weekend.

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