Picture of DIY Track Dolly for under $50
Many professional track dollys for the aid of fluidly rolling cameras cost in excess of $2,000, even for as little as 10 feet of track.  In this tutorial we will construct a track dolly using basic and cheap components available at a hardware store as well as some parts easily found at thrift stores.
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Step 1:

Picture of
For a basic light-weight camera track dolly capable of holding small to medium tripods, you will need the following materials:

Bill of Materials:
(2) 1"x5'-0" Schedule 40 PVC pipe (for track)
(1) Pair of roller blades (for a total of eight wheels)
(16) Hex bolts for mounting wheels to wheels to platform and brackets w/matching nuts
(8) Spacers to allow for wheel offsets
(1) L-Bracket with mounting holes for wheels
(1) 3/8" plywood or MDF board for platform
(1) 1/2" dowel for spacing

Tools that will come in handy:
-A drill press or electric drill & bits.
-Nailgun or brad nailer
-Hex wrenches/socket wrenches
-Circular hand saw or table saw
-T-square / ruler

Step 2: Mount roller blade wheels to L-Bracket

Picture of Mount roller blade wheels to L-Bracket
At a local thrift store, I purchased a cheap pair of roller blades to salvage 8 wheels (minimum).  Using hex bolts and spacers, I mounted the wheels to the L-bracket to form a 90° angle.  These are what will roll along the 1" PVC pipes that form our track.  You will want to make at least four sets of wheels.

Build notes & options:
To add stability you can add more wheels per "set" and by staggering these wheels from each other along the track axis.  Staggered wheels will allow you to roll over seams in a track easily so that no wheel hits a seam at the same time as another wheel.  Since I did not plan on using more than 5 feet of track, I chose not to stagger or add extra wheels.
tcallaghan2 years ago
Thanks Chris. I've just made my own based on your work. It's much appreciated.

I affixed two pieced of 18mm MDF together, and use a 40 mm hole saw on the top sheet to create recesses for the tripod legs at three different heights.

I also added a metal cleat tie and knotted a ratchet strap around it, so I can apply some downforce and stability to the mid level spreader on my tripod.

The roller blade wheels are an inspired idea. I can't believe how buttery smooth the whole things is. I couldn't find the nylon spacer, so I've just gone with triple nuts and eight washers a wheel.

All in all, I think this has cost me about £60 instead of £300+.

Thanks again.

chrismathewsjr (author)  tcallaghan2 years ago
That was a fantastic build, thank you for sharing.

Would it be possible to cut the pvc used for the track in half down the middle, creating a flat edge on the bottom? Not only would this prevent rolling, but you could lengthen the track without having to buy more pvc.

Cinegear8 months ago

Check out this DIY camera dolly kit on Kickstarter:

2014-07-01 17.02.12.jpg
dkimbril10 months ago

I love it. I suggest a couple additions for those wanting to build this. Plastic spacers inside the L bracket to maintain 45 degree integrity of the wheels. Flip the bolts holding the L bracket to base to create a smooth top and less hazardous. Btw way I'm making a similar version of this but with a motor so the dolly can move slowly inch forward or backward

gabe4g1 year ago

Okay, so I'm not a handyman at all and am attempting to build this. However, I cannot find any brackets like the ones used in the wheel assembly for this project. Can someone please explain what I need or where I can find them? At this point, it's looking like I may have to make them myself.

mwong22 gabe4g1 year ago

Not sure if you figured this out yet, but the brackets he used are actually just zinc-plated slotted angle that he likely bought at home depot.

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chrismathewsjr (author)  sensoryhouse2 years ago
Pretty rad, but is there any way you can turn off autoplay?
whats that camera control thing you have there called?
Meade Autostar Telescope Arm
great vid, but is there any way you can turn off autoplay?
Sorry man, I didn't even think this was possible. I didn't mean to hijack your page. If I can't figure out how to turn it off then I will delete the comment.
Built this one day, and used it in a shoot the next day. For £30 total cost, I can't believe how easy it was & how great it is to use. Will be getting more PVC now to extend the track. And might also build a 2nd bigger dolly to fit both the camera (+ stand) and me (+ seat).
I see this was posted awhile back. In case it is still valuable you may want to consider using steel conduit or even steel pipe instead of the PVC if you plan to hold much weight. $.02
PVC works well if you choose the right size. Shot a feature last year and built pvc track and it held RED ONE with Matte Box, Tripod Heavy Duty, Operator, ect. Not as heavy as steel pipe and allows for fast setup as well. Steel would be awesome for some kind of permenant rig.
filmnuts4 years ago
That's a nice simple design.  Some modifications to consider would be a push bar on the back of the dolly, a loop in the center of the platform to tie the tripod and camera down to the dolly and rotating bases for the wheels to make it easier to take turns on curved track.  From a safety standpoint, you might also want something to cover the bolts sticking up.
awawawaw4 years ago
Excellent idea!!! The simple L bracket design with rollerblade wheels can be used for a lot of other projects. Quality instructable: straightforward, detailed, and clean.
RedMeanie4 years ago
This is a great setup! Ive been working on a gate and this would make a great setup for a gate just add a drive wheel on the side.
Thanks you saved me allot of WORK!
Fantastic idea.  Easy to build and modify.  I like it.
kelseymh4 years ago
Very nice project!  Clear, well written, and complete.  Are you sure you want it under Workshop:Tools, rather than Tech:Photography?  I'd like to feature it at the category level; it seems more appropriate for photography to me.
chrismathewsjr (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
I suppose I should do that category instead.  I couldn't find a "film" category so I gave up pretty quickly on categorizing it.  I'll change it now.  Thank you very much for the kind words!