Introduction: Ball Bearing Jib Arm W/ Motorized Pan & Tilt

Picture of Ball Bearing Jib Arm W/ Motorized Pan & Tilt
Update September 2013:  What started as a hobby has turned into something pretty serious.  We are readying the launch of an open-source cinematic motion-control rig.  If you wanna stay up on the futue of cinematography "like" us at //

Turn a telescope arm, workout bar bell, and scrap metal into a jib arm (camera crane)!

This 'Ible to be updated with more info over the next month or two.  If you like this project then check back for updates.

Basically there are 6 components to this jib arm, listed in order of difficulty to build:
1. Fork (connects the arms to the bearing)
2. Bearing Mount (connects tripod to the bearing)
3. Camera Mount (connects the arms to the camera/Meade)
4. Arms
5. Counter Weights
6. Meade Telescope Arm Assembly (Motorized Pan/Tilt)

Peep the video for some epic test shots.  And stay tuned at the end for a sneak peek at the next project (slider+jib)

DIY Ball Bearing Jib Arm (w/ Motorized Pan/Tilt) HDSLR from Brad Justinen on Vimeo.

Step 1: Fork

Picture of Fork

This is the only step that requires welding.  (lol at my welds btw)

-Made from 3/8"x2" steel flat stock.  The fork will bolt through the pillow block.
-Bronze Bearings (Bushings) which insert into the steel fork (this is very important). These bearings are for the up/down arm movement.  These can be found at some Home Depot / Lowe's but the best place to get them might be your local Fastenal, they are nation wide and have a huge selection. 

Step 2: Bearing Mount

Picture of Bearing Mount

-1" Horizontal Bearing (Pillow Block).  I got mine at a local metal supply shop but your local Fastenal should have them in stock and they are nationwide, $11.  
-2 round aluminum 3/8" plates connected by stand-offs, the bottom plate is threaded for the tripod, the pillow block bolts to the top plate,
-1" Stan-offs,
-Various spacers, washers, bolts.Bearing Mount:

Step 3: Camera Mount

Picture of Camera Mount

The Camera Mount includes:
-Aluminum c-channel with bronze bushings inserted. The inside gap needs to be the same width as the gap between the steel fork. My gap was 2".
-Piece of aluminum angle bolted to the c-channel. The camera or pan/tilt head will mount to this.
-Various spacers, washers, bolts.

Step 4: JIb Arms

Picture of JIb Arms

These also have to have bronze brushings inserted wherever a bolt will pass through (so there is no steel on steel friction). The size and length of the arms is up to you. It all depends on your design. Mine are 7' long. Both are aluminum square tubing, the top is 1.5" wide and the bottom is 1".

Step 5: Counter Weights

Picture of Counter Weights

Counter Weights:
-Basically a stock weight lifting dumbbell. The handle of the dumbbell splits apart. I drilled a 1" hole in tail of the top jib arm and feed the dumbbell handle through it.

Step 6: Meade Telescope Arm Assembly

Picture of Meade Telescope Arm Assembly

-Meade motorized pan/tilt arm from an automated Autostar telescope.  Also known as the "Milapse" mount by time lapse photographers.  Just google search "Milapse"
-Aluminum angle bracket

I got my 2nd and 3rd Meade arms on Craigslist for around $60 with the telescope. The first one I overpaid on eBay at around $120. If you don't live in a big city you will probably have to pay more.


svigness (author)2016-08-11


Mighty T H O R (author)2014-05-25

hello, by any chance, did it come with the remote control? i am looking for one. My telescope has no brains. can't move without it.

if so, are you willing to sell it?

polo724 (author)2013-10-12

How did you keep the bearing from not coming off from the pillow block housing?

polo724 (author)2013-10-11

HI, nice Jib. How did you keep the bearing from not coming off from the housing? thanks

slowsam (author)2012-11-24

How fast can you move the head?
Like if i were to create this and use it for snowboarding videos or action, how fast would it move?

Jeekoos (author)2012-07-14

what kind of power are you using for the arm? 8 x AA's or something else?

Drayson Design (author)2012-05-15

Write this man a check! Great work as always my friend.

johnnyharmonic (author)2012-04-24

thank you so much for all the hard work, trying to copy cat you right now.... wondering how much space is in-between your two arms? what is the total height of the Fork? and also the length of the C- Channel? thank you very much for all your help!

4" between holes. Fork is 10.5". C-channel is 6" high.

sorry for the delay. if you are like me you already figured it out. even if you had to remake your first fork. like i did. lol.

Hossi (author)2012-03-02

Hello! Thank you for your work! Lot of required information i got here.
Tell me please, were can I get Meade arm or something like that. I live in Ukraine, I have not found such or very expensive( from 1000$ with telescope only). I have no idea what is Craigslist. At ebay expensive too(150$-200$ without shipping). Tnx!

sensoryhouse (author)Hossi2012-05-10

$150-$200 without shipping sounds about right. 

Here is the cheapest retailer I can find in the US. They may give you a better price on shipping than some ebayer.

This website has lots or remote pan and tilt options too.  You could try building your own pan tilt with some hobby servos also.

hope this helps

tigerbomb8 (author)2012-02-01

can someone please tell me the weight of the arm

sensoryhouse (author)tigerbomb82012-02-01

can you be a little more specific?

cchambers7 (author)2011-12-13

Hi, great stuff, very, very helpful but could you please give me a part number foe the Meade head? I'm having trouble finding it on their web site. Thank you.

sensoryhouse (author)cchambers72011-12-15

The Motorized Pan/Tilt arm is from an Meade Autostar Telescope. They can be found on eBay. They are also known as the "Milapse" mount. Milapse is the user name for the guy that pioneered this hack.

Doesn't have a model number. They can be found in two color though. Black and Blue/Gray. The Blue one is newer and has an addition bearing for the pan movement.

Dr.Bill (author)2011-11-27

Nice smooth Video. Too many times we have to look at jumpy videos and it is irratating at best.
Yours are professional quality. Thank you. I am going to forward this to a Photographer friend in Montana.

sensoryhouse (author)Dr.Bill2011-12-05

Thanks man. I have seen a lot of jumpy videos too. I had to redesign this thing a couple times until the video was 100% smooth. Glad someone noticed.

fsagroup (author)2011-11-27

Why didn't you use Aluminum in the construction? Perhaps 3/8" Aluminum...

sensoryhouse (author)fsagroup2011-11-27

besides the fork the entire thing is aluminum. I cant weld aluminum so I used steel for the fork.

abreuma (author)2011-11-25

Great instructable! I've read this thing quite a few times since it was posted. I know you're coming back to update it - here are some things I'd like more information on... I'd like to see more detail on the counter-weight end. Are those bushings or bearings? If they're bushings, why not bearings? Did you buy the telescope stand new for this or did you have it sitting around or did you find one used? Any thoughts on arms that come apart so the whole thing fits in a car? Where do folks find bushings, bearings and "pillow blocks"?

sensoryhouse (author)abreuma2011-11-26

They are officially "bronze bearings" but bushings can be the exact same thing. I have updated the project with links for the pillow block and bronze bearings. The easiest place to get them is Fastenal in in my opinion. They are nation wide and they have wide selection. I got my 2nd and 3rd Meade arm on Craigslist for around $60 with the telescope. The first one I overpaid for on eBay at around $120. If you don't live in a big city you will probably have to pay more.

-chase- (author)2011-11-26

Nice - though i'm not sure which impresses me more
- the Jib arm or your workshop... ;0)
(i'm admiring your work area and so much stuff to make more stuff with! drool drool)

Seems smooth enough  - have you thought of adding a motorized rize and fall using a motor similiar to your pan tilt? I would think a pan tilt rotate head from an old Vari-lite or similiar would work great for this. And the old ones can be picked up rather inexpensively.

though you may not need anything that beefy since you don't have much weight to deal with.

A thought anyway...

Great job... now lets see the bigger 25' jib arm with motorized telescoping extensions... Ooooo...aaah
well sounds like a cool next project... especially with all those tools and all that stuff to make it with.

sensoryhouse (author)-chase-2011-11-26

Been contemplating a servo controlled rise/fall for sure.

coolmilo (author)2011-11-25

this is great, just wish I had all the tools like you. Let me know when you start taking orders ;)

justinlamoureux (author)2011-11-24

Awesome! I'll be busy building one of these and replacing my dolly too! Great inspiration and almost nauseating footage!

tcarney57 (author)2011-11-24

Wow!! What to say? Not only is this a wonderful (as in, "full of wonder") project for what it is, it's also an inspiration, and so is your very-well-executed video. Tell us . . . . . . What video editing software do you use?

sensoryhouse (author)tcarney572011-11-24

Adobe Premiere because Apple ruined Final Cut Pro.

confu (author)2011-11-24

And I wish I had such a workshop in or at least near my flat. :)
The music in the vid is also well-picked in my opinion, perhaps you could let me know what that was?!

Cant_touch_this (author)2011-11-24

This Is the coolest Jib Arm DIY i have ever seen!

uliises (author)2011-11-24

MARVELOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, a question is there any calculation or formula that should be taking into account for positioning the control tower about the tubes

npasulj (author)2011-11-24

I'm in love with your Jib Arm ^^
Really Impressive, very nice job :-O

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