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Camera Dolly (tech shop)

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Picture of Camera Dolly (tech shop)
  Our high school has a digital media production course and did not have a dolly.   With the tools and expertise of tech shop (techshop.ws) i put together a basic camera dolly in a couple of weekends.

There is a large variety in commercial pro-styles.   This design was made from some steel and wood that was laying around.    This dolly holds a tripod.  It has 12 wheels (from inline skates) and runs on 3/4" schedule 20 PVC pipe.

This photo shows the dolly in use - without the top.   We pulled some slats from a bed to create a more even surface for the PVC to lay on.   Also, grass getting into the wheels is a mess and causes vibration.  Also seen in the picture are additional weights - in the form of rail road ties.  Two 2.5 gallon water bottles should work just as well (at 7 pounds a gallon that's 35 pounds). 

Although there are a number of areas that could be improved on the result is more than adequate for high-school use. 
 
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Step 1: Materials

These materials manifested themselves in the course of the project
qty 2 ) 24" x 2" angle 1/8" angle iron (cold rolled)
qty 3) 30" x 1.5" steel straps (1/8" thick)
qty 1) 4x4 piece of 1/2" ply
qty 12) inline roller wheel
qty 12) 3/8" NC bolt, spacers, nuts
qty 4) 3/8" NC bolts to hold deck (i tried standard, over-sized, nylox, and jam nuts).
*) wood sealant - rattle can
*) blue lock tight
*) black spray paint (with rust inhibitor) for frame
sgt_rock2 years ago
I really like that you used the nylon tightening straps to secure this to prvent tipping!
daveclark5 (author)  sgt_rock2 years ago
I think now that bungees will work better. But we will see what the kids do.
I vote for the tightening straps: Once they're in-place, there's no possibility to move the tripod. Bungees will tend to extend themselves a bit more, allowing tripod to balance and move on the base.
Additionally, Alienjones comment is really relevant about bumps. Try that idea.
Go on making it a bit better. It worths the effort. You'll have a true professional tool.
(Next time don't forget to rotate your photos. :D )
Alienjones2 years ago
I've made a few of these in my time and I can see an immediate flaw in this one just like the first one I made. The "pipe saddles" holding the rails on the sleepers. My first effort saw me editing out the bumps every time the wheels went over them. Ouch!

A smoother ride was found by screwing the pipe to the sleepers. Drill a larger hole on top so the screw head can fit through it. The wheels don't feel anything and the whole length is a smooth shoot.

THe trade off benefit of doing this is when you transport it, you only need slide the rails in opposite directions and the rails & sleepers narrow down to a transportable affair you can put on a roof rack or show ski bars.
Curious how it performed over jointed sections. Wondering if maybe offsettng the wheels woudl smooth things out if it was bumping or jumping at joints.
daveclark5 (author)  alaskanbychoice2 years ago
i used two 20' pieces so there were no joints. good point though - for a longer track (say 30') one would want to make sure that the connection joints did not align.

with 12 wheels it would probably smooth things out. should be able to get the joint within 1/64" -

I wonder if having the cuts in joints sliced at say 45 degree angels and then put the slants so they run veritcal if that too could help in smoothing out the transition ? Not sure how much it would help, I haven't built one yet. It's minus 39 out and since I won't be building one for awhile, I'm just gathering ideas right now. Not sure I could transport 20 foot lengths very easily.Thank You. Happy New Year
You might even want to consider using a larger nylon cutting board as a base instead of wood, no doubt cheaper than seaboard.
daveclark5 (author)  alaskanbychoice2 years ago
that's exactly what HDPE is - nylon cutting boards. Note that i was quoting 1/2" and 1" thicknesses. also - it comes in black or white.
I have seen the same thing sell for far more just because it is related to fishing or the sea. Specialized if you will. I like the instructable, gave me more itdeas, thank you. Happy New Year.
famousguy2 years ago
You should put harder wood if you are using
an automatic cutter
daveclark5 (author)  famousguy2 years ago
i should? what do you mean harder wood?
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