Step 5: Testing

The old (finished Sept 24th) 2 Gyro system provides a great stabilization, but is quite bulky. Not that easy to take into the field...

This 1 Gyro design is far more easy to handle in the field, cheaper, folds up, stores easily, uses less power and is easier to build.

Testing was done during  mid twilight. The camera was a Canon SX 110 IS, at 10X maximum zoom setting (330 mm focal length 35 mm equivalent).

Exposure was set at 1/ 15 sec: Impossible to avoid motion blur if held by hand.


With some training, this stabilizer performs almost as well as the far more bulkier 2 HD stabilizer.

Training is important: Holding the camera in a steady, horizontal (unrotated) position is easy. But when pressing the shutter button, a beginner like me tends to move his whole arm instead of just his finger.  Which results in rotation of the camera...

Rotation around the optical axis is the only unstabilized motion in this design.

Fortunately, with some practice, pressing the shutter button while holding the camera steady, is easily learnt.

I would have preferred the multi platter HD. The gyro power of this particular HD feels a bit light.

snakeii5 years ago
Have you considered trying a 2.5" hard drive from a laptop? I wonder if it would produce enough force to provide stability for a camera. They run on 5 volts so the 12 volt supply could be eliminated.

I'm curious what voltage is actually used for the platter motor, if I can find another junker drive at work I'll check. I just trashed 5 old scsi drives last week... Perhaps you could still eliminate one of the voltages with a 3.5" drive. You should be able to get rid of the PCB as well, and run the power straight to the motor. The magnets and head assy can be removed. The magnets and their mounting plates add quite a bit of weight.

Good idea, its a good use for a bad hard drive.
yaly snakeii1 year ago

weight is good as long as it's comfortable to hold

abizar5 years ago
Hi Bob, just pulled a couple of VCR drum heads with integral motor, they are more compact than HDD's (about 2" dia by 2" height with the attachment plate), and I think the power supply issue should be simpler. Just wondering if anyone has info on how to drive these motors? Thanks again for the instructable.
royalestel5 years ago
Great job!  I've been mulling over making one for nearly a year nowas well!  Will post when I finish.
amclaussen5 years ago
Excellent Instructable  Bob!
I cannot add any suggestion at this moment to improve it. Reading about your comment on your difficulty of holding your camerasteady when shutting, I remembered an Idea that I use to train people onhow to properly hold as camera and softly press the shutter button, itis by using a laser pointer temporarily attached to the camera to showhow much movement is done when pushing the shutter button down. Keep practicing until the laser dot projected onto a wall lookssteady.  The tool-like lasers like the Black and Decker can projecta pair of lines at 90 degrees, which helps in developing a sense ofhorizontality to properly level the camera too.

Finally, practice placing your finger laying on the camera body top, andusing ONLY the fingertip to SLOWLY squeeze the shutter,avoiding pushing the whole camera when operating the shutter.  Theold rule of thumb in 35 mm photography was to select a shutter speedreciprocal of the lens focal distance; that is, if using a 135 mm shorttelephoto, one should use at least 1/125 second exposure with hand heldexposures.  But with modern image stabilized lens or sensor, anaverage two stops can be saved (that would be 1/30 sec.) Now, using yourHard disk stabilizer can add at least one more stop. This is anexcellent idea and I truly commend you for your approach. Keep-up thegoog work!
amclaussen, Mexico City.
ZDP-1895 years ago
Consider these improvements:

Gimbal or pivot mount about the CG, ala Wimberly head to isolate the camera-gyro from your body and hand movement.

Place the battery pack on an adjustable stalk below the camera body to provide additional roll and pitch stability. Pitch instability is the major cause of camera jitters and roll stability is not otherwise provided by your new gyro system.

An external monitor (your EOS), electronic viewfinder (Ricoh GX-series), or flip out LCD (Lumix G-1, some DSLRs or a video camera)  would allow you to keep the gyro close to the camera CG and still compose the shot.

A smaller camera would increase the effectiveness of a given hard drive mass.  For example, a compact camera would work well,  The Ricoh and Lumix Micro 4/3 cameras have live VFs too.

Higher rotational velocity would give more stability for the same weight.  can the HDD be hacked to overdrive the motor?

I applaud your use of recycled drives, but consider upgrading to a designed-for-purpose gyro-stabiliser because the HDD platters are solid and the heads, tracking electronics, etc. all add additional weight and are so less efficient than a gyro that concentrates most of its weight peripherally.
rdeol855 years ago
 I'm amazed by the results in your images. I wonder if this can be modified to work with a pair of binoculars for stargazing.
orksecurity5 years ago
I missed the earlier 'ible. Neat concept; good recycling for those old drives which still run but are just too small to be interesting these days. I've got a drawer full of 'em at work; may need to try this.