Introduction: THE INTERNET'S CHEAPEST MOTORIZED, BELT DRIVEN, 48" DIY CAMERA SLIDER

Picture of THE INTERNET'S CHEAPEST MOTORIZED, BELT DRIVEN, 48" DIY CAMERA SLIDER

Midwest Lenticular presents an inexpensive solution for motorized parallax photography.

Note: This guide is several years old and in the time since it was written the slide manufacture Opteka has modified the design of the platform by removing the corner holes and changing the center post diameter. There may be a equitable substitute but non has been tested and therefore this guide should be viewed as informational and no longer a step by step solution

A camera slider is an indispensable tool for producing 3D lenticular prints and smooth video panning shots. Here we look at making a large motorized slider for a variety of applications. This DIY build is focused on creating a solid, reliable tool on the cheap, just over $250, using as few part sources as possible. This slider:

  • Big
  • Motorized
  • Belt driven
  • Battery operated
  • Light weight
  • Easy to source
  • Easy to assemble
  • Inexpensive

The system uses a variable speed controller that operates forward and backward and a generous lithium battery pack for many hours of use in the field. Its built around the Opteka GLD-400 47-inch Camera Track Slider and includes a complete parts list with links. It is a DIY project requiring a few modifications, but the tools and skills are basic.

For information on how to use a slider to make 3D images see the revised tutorial Photographing for Lenticular Printing or the original Instructable.

TOOLS

Drill, 5/32" drill bit, soldering iron, metal file, phillips screw driver, 3/32” hex key, 1/16” hex key.

PARTS

A clickable parts list, with prices, is here

Step 1: MODIFICATIONS: ​Enlarge the Two Holes Indicated on the Aluminum Channel Using a 5/32" Drill Bit.

Picture of MODIFICATIONS: ​Enlarge the Two Holes Indicated on the Aluminum Channel Using a 5/32" Drill Bit.

Step 2: Drill Two 5/32" Holes on the Motor Mount.

Picture of Drill Two 5/32" Holes on the Motor Mount.

Use this template to make new holes in the motor mount.

Step 3: File a Flat Area on the 1/4" Shaft.

Picture of File a Flat Area on the 1/4" Shaft.

This is needed to keep the pinion pulley from slipping. In the picture this is shown attached to the pillow block bearing but is best clamped and filed prior to assembly.

Step 4: Solder a Female Pigtail Wire to Motor Leads.

Picture of Solder a Female Pigtail Wire to Motor Leads.

If using the plastic cap, drill hole for wire and place through before attaching to motor.

Step 5: Prepare the Controller.

Picture of Prepare the Controller.

Cut the outbound wire that comes with the battery into two equal lengths. Strip 1/4" insulation from the ends of the wires and attach to controller. Wires from the battery go to the IN side, wires to the motor go to the OUT side.

Our placement of the controller in the black box was uncomfortably tight, it is probably easiest if the knob comes out of the narrow end of the box. The box is primarily an aesthetic housing for the controller so build to suit your design needs. Note: Cutting a square hole for the rocker switch can be done by drilling small holes along the edges of your proposed opening and then flattening/smoothing with a file.

Step 6: ASSEMBLY: Screw the Ball Head Camera Mount to the Platform.

Picture of ASSEMBLY: Screw the Ball Head Camera Mount to the Platform.

Place the sliding platform onto the glide rails and lock to keep from moving.

Step 7: Attach the Motor Mount to the Rail Using the Screws Supplied for the Rail Feet.

Picture of Attach the Motor Mount to the Rail Using the Screws Supplied for the Rail Feet.

Attach the motor to the mount using 4 3m screws and lock washers. Slide the 6mm pinion pulley onto the motor shaft and tighten with the 3/32” hex key.

Step 8: Attach the Aluminum Channel to the Rail Using the Screws Supplied for the Rail Feet.

Picture of Attach the Aluminum Channel to the Rail Using the Screws Supplied for the Rail Feet.

Assemble the pillow block bearings, 1/4" shaft, 1/4" pinion pulley and clamping collar as shown. The clamping collar prevents the shaft from sliding out of the bearings. The collar and pulley both use the 3/32” hex key.

Step 9: Screw Push Rods Into Platform's Threaded Holes.

Picture of Screw Push Rods Into Platform's Threaded Holes.

Since these rods are available only in 3" lengths it may be desirable to cut them to size with a hacksaw.

Step 10: Attach Belt.

Picture of Attach Belt.

The moment of inspired design with this project is the push rod / belt fastener system, a simple and effective method for attaching and tensioning the belt. Determine the length of belt necessary and cut. Fasten the XL belt mount to the ends of the belt using the 1/16” hex key, place belt into position and tension the belt using 2 - 6/32 screws.

Step 11: Attach 6 Foot Extension Cable to Motor and Controller.

Picture of Attach 6 Foot Extension Cable to Motor and Controller.

Congratulations, you are done!


REMARKS

This simple slider works amazingly well. It can be slowed to an almost imperceptible crawl or sped up to the full 30 RPM speed, allowing a range of utility. It works horizontally or on an incline, and can lift 5 pounds vertically without stalling. It is extremely light weight and portable and the battery lasts a long time between charges.

CONSIDERATIONS

  • The slider should be stopped before the belt fastener reaches the pinion pulleys on either end. Its unclear what effect repeated stalling at the ends of the rail will have on the motor and should be avoided.
  • Beware the brake on the sliding platform! If the motor is struggling or lurching be sure the platform is not locked.
  • The motor is quiet but not silent. At slow speeds motor noise may not be audible but panning video at full speed will record some amount of noise.
  • For faster pans or more rapid lenticular shots a 60 RPM motor is also available that fits the mount.
  • Two tripods with narrow heads are recommended. A single tripod cannot sufficiently carry the weight of a camera without effecting the shot. Amazon has a sturdy, light-weight tripod here.

Step 12:

Comments

stupidvampire (author)2016-10-04

Can this be put vertically on the tripod like this one can? So the camera goes up and down instead of side to side?

starphire (author)2015-10-14

Kudos to you for promoting the Do-It-Yourself option to expensive packaged products. It's a fine project and presentation, and I hate to be critical but I also believe in Truth in Advertising - even for open source projects.

The Title for this Instructable really should be changed. It is one thing to offer a DIY alternative that is cheaper than any ready-to-use packaged product. I believe that is what you intended to convey in your title.

But without question, there absolutely are much cheaper DIY versions of (yes, motorized, yes sturdy, yes using simple tools) camera sliders out there, and yet the title of your Instructable implies that they simply don't exist, or don't count somehow. That's pretty unfair to the other creative people who had even less money to work with and yet have managed to achieve comparable results! Please consider editing the title of this project to reflect truth, rather than misleading people who have a need for a slider but even less budget to work with. Maybe just adding the words "professional quality" or "easiest inexpensive" would better convey your preferred criteria for a DIY slider?

Costs for aluminum extrusions, for example, are pretty much set by the amount of aluminum in a given length - plus the cost of the extrusion die and the markup set by the seller. Custom extrusion shapes are fairly easy to have made, but in small quantities the cost to the end user will be significantly higher than a similar length and weight of standardized shapes. A slider made from a few pieces of common extrusions from the hardware store is significantly less than the cost of a custom extrusion from Opteka or another specialty supplier. People have also modified products made for furniture or sliding doors with excellent results, and published their projects on the internet (not just to this site). As other commenters here have noted, there are motor/speed controllers made for other uses or repurposed that cost significantly less yet work fine for this purpose.

stereoghost (author)starphire2015-10-14

Glad you liked the project!
There are many great camera sliders out there and I used ideas from several to make this one. But none of them that were as large, motorized and BELT DRIVEN could be built for cheaper, at least I didn't find any at the time. It was also important that there were minimal parts sources so that people interested in building from the Instructable weren't left scrambling to obtain obscure pieces I found in my workshop. The only less than accurate description is calling it a 48" slider when in fact its only 47", but I saw this as more of a categorical distinction.

DavidR184 (author)stereoghost2015-10-15

Perfect response! I cannot find a belt-driven, motorized DIY slider on the internet that actually works like a professional model for the money you spent. Sure, there are some people who might have a scrap piece of aluminum in their garage, so they will save a bit more. But for those that need to buy all the parts at one time to get a great-working slider like yours, can't find this design better anywhere else. Great job! :)

stereoghost (author)DavidR1842015-10-15

Thanks!

EmrahE (author)2015-10-14

The only thing I didn't like is BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ sound :D

stereoghost (author)EmrahE2015-10-14

Its true, it makes recording video + audio problematic. I could not find an inexpensive solution to deal with this. Doesn't matter for making lenticular sequences though! :)

EmrahE (author)stereoghost2015-10-14

It is true though. I can imagine it would be really tough to solve this problem on the lower spectrum of expenses. But there can be one solution maybe. You can use this version for photography ( since motorized , automatic sequence is more needed there since it takes a longer time ) and you can use a manual slider of sorts ( maybe pulleys or something ? ) for video shoots since it would be less noisy .

But it is a very distinct noise maybe there are video programs that can isolate and delete that sound ?

alcurb (author)2015-10-14

Very nice. Very professional-looking construction. The parts are a bit expensive, but all the parts together would end up costing a fraction of what a professional unit would cost.

Y'know, you can make a 3D (stereo) video using one of your 2D clips.

stereoghost (author)alcurb2015-10-14

I have never made a stereoscopic video, but I think I understand how it would be done. What tool would you use for this?

alcurb (author)stereoghost2015-10-14

I used GoPro Studio with a hyperlapse clip a friend made. it worked well, but it took a bit of experimenting and some hair pulling to get the timing just right.

ppsailor made it! (author)2015-10-11

Very professional.

Maybe you can build a low cost using materials found at home.

In my workshop I found many items that I recycled and reused other as old toys that are always unused Well, to them I built a Mini salider cam and was very cheap $ 10 Dlls.

I show my project

ppsailor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2vFpMM83_s

ThomasJ1 (author)2015-10-11

Nice job!

Reminds me of the one I made for northern lights last year: https://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Camera-Slider-for-Time-lapse-Photography/

Laral (author)2015-10-11

Wow! Fantastic. This is a great project and an extremely well done Instructable. I hope you got a free PRO membership for it.

samper (author)2015-10-11

Great article. Thank you.

Samiran (author)2015-10-11

Thats really cool and I must add an Old Deskjet printer will also reduce the cost very much as Motor ,controller & driver will be readyly available.

Seeed Studio (author)2015-10-09

That's cool.

restless_studio (author)2015-10-08

Looks sharp!

I consider making one.
Just have to figure out something cheaper for the slider unit itself...

About This Instructable

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Bio: Midwest Lenticular is a lenticular printing service with a focus on fine art editions.
More by stereoghost:THE INTERNET'S CHEAPEST MOTORIZED, BELT DRIVEN, 48" DIY CAMERA SLIDERPhotographing for 3D Lenticular Printing
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