Picture of Raspberry Pi powered time lapse dolly (RasPiLapse)
Here's my instructable for a home build timelapse dolly. The pro rigs for this are pretty pricey, so I made my own :)

Please vote if you like this project!

Step 1: Software

Picture of Software
The heart of this machine is a Raspberry PI, a low cost small footprint computer. It runs linux so it's easy to write and deploy code on it. It also has a GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) connector which we can control.

The code is pretty basic and written in python

I use the Raspian distro on my Raspberry Pi.

First, I installed Python, WiringPI and WiringPI-Python.

Next, I export the pins I will be using. I need two pins as outputs, so in a shell I type:

gpio export 18 out
gpio export 23 out

Now I can play around with pin 18 and 23.

Next, I write a python script to allow me to input exposure time, interval and number of shots. Here it is:

import wiringpi  #get wiringpi-python
from time import sleep 
io = wiringpi.GPIO(wiringpi.GPIO.WPI_MODE_SYS) 
triggerpin = 18 #set my pins
motorpin = 23
exposure = input('exposure time: ') # pick exposure, interval and number of shots
interval = input('interval: ')
shots = input('number of shots: ')
motor = 72.8/shots
print 'begin'
while shots != 0:  # loop through actions until complete
    shots = shots-1
    print shots

You may notice the motor time is 72.8 / number of shots - this means I can select a number of shots and the Pi works out the motor times needed to run the length of the track.

I save this to a file named 'timelapse.py'.

To make this easier to run in the field, I create a bash script to export the pins then run the python script:

#! /bin/bash
gpio export 18 out
gpio export 23 out
python timelapse.py

And save this as t.sh. I made it executable, so I simply need to type ./t.sh in a shell to get things up and running.
Jun YiT3 months ago


This project looks really cool and you've got some really nice sceneries!

intending to buy a raspberry PI and try building something for the first time. Would like it to work with Canon and Samsung cameras. anything I need to know?

PradeepC28 months ago

Is it possible to connect 3G and send/receive the data/image to the mobile android/Play Store App?

You can add wireless module to raspi and gphoto2 to transfer them into raspi.If you create a samba folder on raspberry you can download to mobile phone

PradeepC28 months ago

Is it possible to connect 3G and send/receive the data/image to the mobile android/Play Store App?

Raphango10 months ago

Amazing videos you got there!

Congratulations for your ible!!

badkarma71 year ago

great project!

i appreciate especially the bash script, it's actually much more easy to run..

thanks a lot for sharing.

i built a fully portable monorail, suitable for long trips, find some pics here http://www.juzaphoto.com/topic2.php?l=en&t=814883



wharlan1 year ago
Gahhh, this is so awesome. I started to mess-around with the Arduino and Raspberry-Pi lately and this was the exact thing I wanted to build. As soon as I have completed building this I'll be sure to share it...
bpetty32 years ago
Rick this is great! And you have some beautiful scenery where you are. I'm going to be using an Arduino to make my controller, wish me luck!
sparkyish2 years ago
Nice project :-) It seems you are using a Sony for this example, but Magic Lantern provides a free aftermarket firmware for Canon that includes bulb-ramping
Hello....! I really like your concept, and would like to build something similar...I bought the Raspberry Pi a while ago, and will try to make something with the thing. Not that into Linux, so there is some work to do there...I might find some info in here, that can explain for me in detail. Keep up the good work, and thank you for sharing..!
jtharkness2 years ago
Very nice instructable, I can't wait to get into using the GPIO pins on my pi for cool stuff like this. And congrats on making it to the newsletter.
rickadam (author)  quixotiCfluX2 years ago
Cheers! Getting the GPIO running is satisfying, nothing like breaking out of software into the real world :)
Machine2 years ago
Very nice instructable and you do seem to have a lot of skill with Linux, Android and Python.
rickadam (author)  Machine2 years ago
fred_dot_u2 years ago
A simple elegant project, nicely executed. Those with Canon cameras that use CHDK will be able to use a 5v source to trigger the shutter, requiring only a tiny modification to your original configuration.

One could also easily modify this to rotate the camera and perform automated panorama photos.
rickadam (author)  fred_dot_u2 years ago
I really like the idea of adding panning to this rig, and will probably add that at some point :)
emils_s2 years ago
One more Is it possible to program computer to control 2 or maybe 3 motors wits 12v?
rickadam (author)  emils_s2 years ago
yeah it sure is - although at that voltage I'd be thinking about using a relay to switch the motor on and off...
wooac2 years ago
Nice. Better if it sat on one tripod. Fort Point might have more interesting vantage points.
rickadam (author)  wooac2 years ago
Cheers, it probably could be adapted to sit on one tripod quite easily - I find I can position it with two fairly well, and it keeps it nice and stable :)
emils_s2 years ago

Great job! Could you please give more info about software and hardware. Where can I get that control unit? Maybe there is some special instructions found on internet for programming timelapse controller? if possible please post here or email me emils@emils.lv
rickadam (author)  emils_s2 years ago
Hi! The controller is a Raspberry Pi - it's a tiny computer that runs linux. I wrote the software myself in Python. I have a website for the project here: https://sites.google.com/site/raspilapse/


zorwick2 years ago
Super great job! Congrat!
rickadam (author)  zorwick2 years ago