Picture of Camera Tube Dolly: Step by Step

We chose this design for its easy to find materials and practical transport possibilities. Moreover, many dollies need you to find a tripod head, for which we didn’t have the budget.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Total for a Vinten ProTouch 3809-8 tripod with a track of 6m, check below for details on how to adjust the tubes to your tripod and track distance.

• 18m x 50mm diameter hard PVC tubes
• 2 x T-section tubes, 50mm diameter
• 8 wheels, ideally rollerblade wheels with screws, bolts and washers
• 3m of plywood
• Some sort of shock absorbing material: foam, yoga mats or springs.

Optional (for dolly track rails)
• 6m of plywood
• 2m of 2x4 wood

• Saw
• Drill
• Strong glue

Tip: Ask your local hardware or furniture store for their wood leftovers.

Step 2: Tube Lenght: step 1

Picture of Tube Lenght: step 1
We bought 18m of tubes based on our tripod and track needs. This is how we measured. If you’re using the same length as we did, you can skip this part.

Decide on how long you need your track to be for the shots you need. Double that amount.

Example: I need a dolly of 6m: I need 12m of tube.

Tip: You can always make the track longer afterwards.

Step 3: Tube Lenght: step 2

Picture of Tube Lenght: step 2
Decide on the length of the separate pieces of the track. For transport, you’d probably want them to be 1m or 1m50. How many individual tubes will you have? Multiply this number by 30 cm and add to the first number. These will be the joints locking the tubes together.

Example: 12m of tube divided by 1m50 pieces, is 8. 8 x 30 cm= 2m40

Tip: Make your joints long, but not too long that they make your life harder in transport.

Step 4: Tube Lenght: step 3

Picture of Tube Lenght: step 3
Measure the distance between the legs of the tripod. Round up and add.

 a = 75cm, rounded up to 80cm
 b = 66cm, rounded up to 70cm
 Total: 1m50

Tip: Rounding up will give you more flexibility for the use of other tripods. Round numbers are easier to work with.
rimar20002 years ago
Mine was just a suggestion, I am not a photographer. Why you think you should raise the camera position by replacing the wheels by those little carts?
Almost Midnight (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Thank you for the suggestion - I always like to improve.

At the moment the wheels are drilled on the sides of the dolly cart tube itself, with only a minimal distance between the track and the cart. I believe the parts you suggested would place the wheels in between / under the cart, creating a space of a few cm's between the cart and the track.

There's two reasons that in our movie project we like to keep the distance between the tracks and the cart to an absolute minimal. Firstly, safety is crucial. With more contact surface between the track and the cart, we might have less chances at accidents. We're using this dolly for action packed scenes on the street, so at times it gets rough.
Secondly, at times we like to make shots very close to the ground, in frog perspective. Often a cm or two does a lot to a take.
Considering our budget, we were also forced to opt for the cheapest solution.

For other photographers these spare parts would be an awesome solution: my guess is that they're easier in assembly and more solidly built than our wheels.
Yes, now I understand. "Never missing an Eskimo willing to teach an African to combat a heat wave", forgive me.
DconBlueZ2 years ago
Very detailed Instructable, I know someone who might use this, thanks!
Almost Midnight (author)  DconBlueZ2 years ago
Thank you! I'm very interested to hear if they're as happy with this design as we are.
rimar20002 years ago
Very interesting design. Maybe these spare parts could serve to make the wheels more easily. I don't know how to name them.
These wheels look like the runners used in common internal cavity slider doors. They're generally only 30mm wheels but if you could find a larger version they'd work great!
Almost Midnight (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Thanks! With some more budget, they would definately make the assembly easier. I'm not sure what they're called in English either.

A concern could be that you would loose contact surface between the dolly cart and the dolly track. I used this dolly for some shots of a man running through the street, and in order to follow him the cameraman had to run the cart over the track at equal speed. I'm afraid that if I put the cart higher up, and consequently the tripod and the camera as well, I might loose on safety.

If you try it out though, I would be very interested in hearing how it wen
Mine was just a suggestion, I am not a photographer. Why you think you should raise the camera position by replacing the wheels by those little carts?