Introduction: 3D Printed Panning Time-lapse Mount (from an Egg Timer!)

Here is my time-lapse panning device/mount built from an egg timer! With this you'll be able to create time-lapse videos where the camera pans throughout the duration of the video.

First of all, I'm aware this isn't a new idea and that there are a few instructables which already show how to build something like this. I wanted to build something a little more polished however, and more importantly build a mount which was as small as possible.

Having said that, let's get started!

Step 1: Parts List and Disassembly

For this Instructable you'll need the following parts:

1 x 1/4 " nut (UNC or BSW is fine)

1 x 1/4 " Bolt (UNC or BSW is fine) as short as possible (see assembly step)

1 x cheap egg timer (pictured)

You'll also need the following tools:

1 x pair of pliers

1 x superglue

(and of course access to a 3D printer)

If you can get hold of an egg timer like the one pictured (there are plenty on eBay) then the rest of this Instructable should be pretty straight forward. If you want to use a different sort of egg timer then the files for 3D printing (provided in the step) probably wont work.

You'll then need to dismantle your egg timer:

1. Unscrew 4 screws on the back of the timer (keep these somewhere safe!)

2. Pry off the rotating plastic portion on the front

3. Pry apart the two halves of the case

Step 2: Printing the Case

Print out the two attached .stl part files on a 3D printer.

For the best results print the parts in an orientation similar to that shown in the picture above. For my prints support material was used, however overhangs on all parts are very small so I would suspect you could get away without the need for support material.

Step 3: Assembly

You'll need to assemble the mount in the following 4 steps:

1. Superglue the timer innards into the bottom half of the case

2. Press the top half of the case on to the white plastic prongs on the centre of the egg timer innards

3. Using a pair of pliers press the 1/4" nut into the bottom half of the case

4. Using a pair of pliers press the 1/4" bolt into the top half of the case in the same way

As mentioned previously you'll need to used a very short 1/4" bolt to ensure that it does not 'bottom out' when screwing your camera onto the mount using the tripod hole. If you can't find a bolt short enough then make use of a hacksaw and file to shorten your bolt.

Step 4: Operation

In order to use your time-lapse mount you need to screw a tripod onto the bottom of the case and then screw the mount into the bottom of your camera using the tripod hole. In the picture above I have a gorillapod screwed into the bottom of the mount and my mobius action camera screwed into the top of the mount.

Set your camera to time-lapse mode and rotate the top half of the mount while holding the bottom half of the mount (you'll hear the egg timer innards start to tick). The top half of the mount will now take an hour to pan your camera 360 degrees.


Step 5: Get Out There and Use It!

Before I'd done much time-lapse photography I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what settings and photo interval to use. The standard method for this is normally to figure out the length of your event and the length of video clip you desire and then do the maths assuming 30 fps, I found that this method didn't really work for a lot of cases however. If the speed of moving objects in your photo is too high you'll get a very jumpy video if your interval isn't low enough.

My rule of thumb : Use a setting of one photo every two seconds for pretty much everything. If you are recording something which is likely to remain very stationary, slow moving clouds etc. you can get away with one photo every 10 seconds, these cases are rare in my experience though. Finally as this mount take 60 minutes to rotate 360 degrees a setting of one photo every two seconds gives you a nice 30 clip for a 180 degree rotation at 30 fps.

So Mount your camera to the tripod screw, mount your time-lapse rig to a tripod hit record and get filming!

Step 6: A Note on Post Processing Timelapse Video

There are lots of Instructables on how to take your 900 or so photos and turn them into a video, so I wont go into too much detail. My preferred method is the use Virtual Dub:

1. Import photos
2. Set video frame rate
3. Select video compression codec (Xvid is my codec of choice)
4. Export as AVI

This method has never failed me and I've always been happy with the results.