Instructables


This is how I built my time lapse dolly, it was made with a whole bunch of trial and error, hopefully this will help you build yours.

A lot of the stuff I used I had on hand, don't know where I got it, or have no idea what it worth but I'll do my best at giving you a complete list of what I used and where you might get it.

This is very much a "prototype" build and posses very little polish, I would approach this Instructable as a very rough guide of what you should do, do not be afraid to substitute the parts I used for parts that you have or can get easily.

This is my first Instructable so I apologize for any shortcomings.


 
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Step 1: Doin' Rails


I will start with the rails because I found it super simple to set the width of the dolly cart if you already have the rail made.

Parts and Tools (all costs are an estimate, I didn't pay close attention to costs because it scares me)

2 x 8ft 1" square aluminum tubing $30 each here in Canada probably much cheaper down south.
1 x 4ft 1/4 20 threaded rod $2
6 x 1/4 20 sex bolts...yeah (aka barrel nuts or Chicago bolts) $1 each.
6 x 1" steel hinges $2-3 a pair.

Drill bits and a drill and a 1/4 20 tap/ thread cutter, preferably a drill press to keep things straight.
Some thing to cut the aluminum tubing, I used my compound miter saw.
Hack saw
Allen wrenches

Step 1 Cut the rails to length

I originally used the full 8ft but found it a pain to move around and handle in general so I cut mine down to six feet leaving me with two 2ft pieces to use for other parts.

Step 2 Cut the cross members.

The overall width of my rails is 6.5 inches so my cross members are 4.5 inches long and I used 3 of them.. You make these any size you want, remember the width of your rails determines the size of your cart. This is also a good time to drill the holes where you will attach the tripods. Measure out the center of the cross pieces and drill a hole, I used a no. 2 drill bit then ran the 1/4 20 thread cutter bit into the hole. This will be the bottom of your cross members. test this on a piece of scrap first.

Step 3 Attach the cross members to the rails with the hinges.

I clamped it all together and then put the hinges in place to mark where to drill the holes. This is very important to get right so take your time and make sure everything is square and the hinges are flush and your holes are marked out correctly. After you have marked the holes for the hinges go ahead and drill your holes. You are going to want to drill the right size hole for the screws that came with the hinges. test it out on a scrap piece of aluminum, if the hole is too big the screws won't bite enough to hold it all together and the hole is too small you will strip the screw head or break the screw trying to get it in.

Step 4 drill the holes for the "clamp bolts"

These bolts are what make the rails rigid. You have to drill a hole big enough for the shaft of the barrel nuts to fit in. Mark the center of your cross members and transfer that mark to the side of the rails.

*IMPORTANT* DO NOT DRILL YOUR HOLE FOR THE BARREL NUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RAIL!!!!! make the hole as low as you can with out the lip of the barrel nut going below the bottom of the rail, you need the top of the rail to be clear for the bearing to roll on. See image.

Now you cut a length of the 1/4 20 threaded rod that will reach in between the two barrel nuts. You may have to trim it down or cut a new piece if it's too short, no worries this stuff is cheap. Make sure you get a good fit and you can tighten good, you don't have to tighten too much but you don't want any movement in the rail. You want to do this for all three cross members.

There you go! You now have a foldable rail!






Nice!

Here is mine - although I use it mostly for video!

I really like this, and I realized that I have a motorized Meade telescope tripod lying around I could use for the same thing. Thanks for the inspiration!
maxwelltub2 years ago
How did you come to choose this motor. It clearly works great and there is a reason you picked it. but Im just curious on what makes this motor more suitable over less expensive motors
DerekMellott (author)  maxwelltub2 years ago
Power, This motor has enough of it to lift anything you will need to mount on the dolly and then some.


I'm going to hook this up to my rig at some point. It cost me about $30 (without 18v battery) and has variable speed and LOTS of torque.  The push rod in the caulking gun was the same size and TPI (teeth per inch) as a scrap timing belt I had.
could you show us a link to where you would find this?
Sweet, thats some serious Caulk action. Let us know how that little motor works with your setup. It is way smaller and less expensive so it could be a good alternative.
a few more points,
-it has a planetary gear drive.
-can go VERY slow & the acceleration gets faster on the higher end.
-could run on a $10 harbor Freight 18v battery
-has a cut off switch already wired to it. (originally to stop the gun when the caulking was out)
maxwelltub2 years ago
I used some of your designs with a slider I had and it works great. I am trying to mount the speed controller in a project box but cant get the dam knob off the potentiometer that came with the pwm. I think I'll just have to go get a new one at radio shack.
IMG_8743.JPGIMG_8744.jpg
I like the interesting article very much. Basically I love to learn some thing new. And this article inspires me to do som ething new through my side also.
Antique truck
wzkd2 years ago
Derek,

Excellent! I just finished building our dolly from your instructable. It works almost perfectly. I have one question. I am not too familiar with using a PWM and am not sure if I just have a bad one. I purchased the the motor and the PWM you linked too, however, the motor does not work until the dial is turned up to about 20%. From all the way turned down to about the 20% mark, nothing happens. With the size of the belt pulley and an 8' track, it takes about 5.5 hrs to make the whole thing, however I was hoping that I might be able to get it slower. Again, thanks so much for putting this out there. I've been wanting one of these for a long time.
DerekMellott (author)  wzkd2 years ago
My PWM does the same thing, just a sloppy Pot. I have never run mine at it's slowest speed for the whole time to see how long it takes but after running it for 5min and measuring the distance traveled it should take almost 10 hours to travel my six feet. I have no idea why there is such a big difference. Possibly inconsistencies in the Chinese electronics. I have a different PWM I got from a different guy, when I get a chance I'll try that one and see what I get.
feint3 years ago
thanks for the instructions. Im building my own right now, its similar to http://forum.timescapes.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=4172 design. I was wondering what size dc power plug and jack do you use... 2.5mm or 2.1mm or something else?
DerekMellott (author)  feint2 years ago
2.1mm but you can use whatever you want.
tinyphizh3 years ago
awesome build! i will be trying to make one of my own... quick question... why did you go with a .45rpm motor instead of something bigger like a 1.5rpm motor? Would it be to fast? is the .45rpm fast enough to do non-timelapse video?
DerekMellott (author)  tinyphizh3 years ago
I went with the .45 because I am only using it for time lapse and I wanted to use it at night and have it move slow enough to not cause blur. the speed varies from 40mins to 8.5hrs to travel the 6 feet. If you don't want the super slow you can go with faster motor. just keep in mind the faster you move the faster you need to shoot for it to look smooth.

Good luck with your build!
winterfresh3 years ago
That is awesome!
medvetter3 years ago
nice job ram! doctor333
MtnMan13 years ago
this is the most amazing set-up ever. i can't belive you made the whole rig yourself.
You took time lapse photos of your time lapse photo rig.

That's SO META.
syrax3 years ago
nice work :)

regards from Bulgaria
What type of battery system are you using to power the rig? Thanks for sharing this awesome Instructable.
DerekMellott (author)  intermediate_noob3 years ago
Thank you for the response...I was wondering what you were hanging from the middle of the rig! That is a great idea to keep the thing held down as well.

Again, thanks for posting.
akynast3 years ago
Excellent work Derek, I'm planning to make one and started last week to read about Time Lap Photo. The solution you have to transport the rails in the PVC tube is great !

Regarding the shutter I can see on your photo that it is an external one, on the video you posted, when you see the camera going up to the deck, how fast did you took the photos and how much did you moved the camera between shots ? I see it very smooth no step by step, What software did you used to make the video (to combine the photos) ? Sorry, I ended with lots of questions....
DerekMellott (author)  akynast3 years ago
I had it shoot every 4 seconds and had the speed set yo 50%.

I compiled the frames in Adobe Lightroom.

Good luck with your build.

malqassab3 years ago
you're a whore genius
DerekMellott (author)  malqassab3 years ago
Thanks......?
Seriago3 years ago
Great work! Thanks for sharing!
damianzuch3 years ago
This is so sexy! I have some festool panels that I've been playing with to make the track. DeWalt and (I believe) Makita also have panel saws. If you can get your hands on a saw baseplate and use it in conjunction with the panels i imagine you would have a light-weight, extendable and portable dolly track. This, of course, is rudimentary to what you've built, but i thought I'd pass that along if you can find some use for it?

Cheers!
DerekMellott (author)  damianzuch3 years ago
I considered this but have no access to them, my two primary goals were precision movement and cost. What I have done can be adapted to any track, you should give it a go.
Light_Lab3 years ago
I like this idea a lot and I might have a go myself when I get some time. I guess the camera is actually still slowly moving when you take each shot so it would have a bit of blur in low light at the fastest speed?
DerekMellott (author)  Light_Lab3 years ago
Well that depends on far away the object is. You can take 25 sec exposures of the stars with no blur with this, it will take several hours to travel the six feet.
Nice work, with some very handy advice. I've been thinking about how to build a dolly system for a while and I'll definitely be referring back to this Instructable for advice. Thanks for posting it!
psnake13 years ago
Cool, thanks for sharing!