Introduction: 3D Printed Steady Cam

This instructable will show you how to create a "steady cam" using only a couple of 3d printed parts, and other easy to find materials. 

Step 1: Parts and Materials


Ball Bearings: (5)  - 1/2" outside diameter, 1/4" inside diameter (I bought a few of mine from a local hobby store, but I had to get these for the other two)

1/4"-20 Threaded Rod:  (1ft)

1/4"-20 Square nuts: (2) - came in a pack of 4

1/4"-20 Hex nuts: (4 or more) - came in a pack of 10

1/4"-20 Wing nuts: (3 or more)

1/4" Lock washer: (1 or more) - came in a pack of 5

1/4"-20 Nylon lock nut: (1 or more)

1/4"-20 Machine screws 1": (2 or more - I used 4)

1/4"-20 Machine screw 2": (1)

Paint Roller (We only need the handle): (1)

Shoe lace: (1) - (pretty much any kind of cord will do)

Fender Washers: (box of them) - (I used 5/16" x 1-1/2" washers, but any fender washers will do....these are just for the counter-weight)

3d printed parts: (1 set)  (1 gimbal and 1 Fork - or use the file that has both together)

1/4" spacer: (1)  (I cut down a larger 1/4" spacer to get the right length, but you may not need this)

Optional------Some scrap metal: (I needed a piece to offset some counter weight, but your camera might not require this)


3D printer (any 3d printer should do...mine was printed on a Makerbot Cupcake cnc which isn't the most accurate, and you can clean up any holes later with a 1/4" and 1/2" drill--I would recommend printing with an infill of at least 40% or more)

1/4" drill bit

1/2" drill bit





Tin snips (optional)


Step 2: Print & Prep Parts

First thing we need to do is print out the plastic parts. I printed my parts on my Makerbot Cupcake cnc, which isn't very accurate, so any 3d printer should do. I also recommend printing with an infill of at least 40% or more. 

Next I needed to drill out the holes with a 1/4" and 1/2" drill bit because my print wasn't very accurate, but you might not need to do this depending on your 3d printer. The goal is for the bearings to fit snug inside the holes.

Next I took the paint roller, and removed the roller part and metal rod from the handle. You may need to use a 1/4" drill to enlarge the hole, so that the 1/4"-20 x 2" screw will fit nicely into the handle.

You can also drill a hole in the bottom of the handle for the wrist strap.

Step 3: Assemble Gimbal

Things we need for this step:

(2) 1/4"-20 square nuts

(1) Ball bearing

The first thing we need to do is to press fit the 2 1/4"-20 square nuts into the gimbal. I just used a vice to squeeze them into place, but make sure that they are snug in place.

Then we need to fit one of the ball bearings into place. You also want a snug fit, but make sure the center of the bearing spins freely.

Technically the bearing on this part is optional. It allows you to pan and spin the camera on it's axis, but if you don't need the 3rd axis of freedom, you can get by without the ball bearing.

Step 4: Fork Assembly

Next we need to assemble the fork. Take a look at the photos to see how it all goes together.

Things needed for this step:

(1) 1/4"-20 x 2" machine screw

(2) Ball Bearings

(1) 1/4"-20 lock nut

When putting this together, you don't want any slack in the screw, but you also want the fork to spin freely with very little resistance.

Then I screwed the painters handle directly onto the rest of the 2" screw. Depending on your painters handle, you may need to enlarge the hole that was left when you removed the metal arm from it.

Step 5: Center Rod Assembly

Next we are going to assemble the rod that the camera attaches to.

Things we need for this step:

The 3d printed Gimbal with the bearing and square nuts already installed

(3) 1/4"-20 nuts

(1) 1/4"-20 wing nut  (this is used to tighten the camera to the threaded rod)

(1) 1/4" lock washer  (this is used to tighten the rod against the bearing)

(1) 1/4" spacer  (I used a dremel to cut down a larger 1/4" spacer to the right length.....I needed this to allow the nut to tighten against the center of the ball bearing) (You may or may not need this, its up to you, don't be afraid to experiment !!!)

Assemble those components in the order they are shown in the photo. Make sure that if you are using a bearing in the gimbal for the 3rd axis, that the threaded rod spins freely inside the gimbal. Also, when you tighten down the lock washer, it changes the resistance in which it takes to turn the threaded rod.

Step 6: Assemble the Counter Weights

Things we need for this step:

Fender washers (as many as you need)

Scrap metal (optional)

Smaller washers (optional)

Small 1/4"-20 screw (optional)

Next we want to assemble the counter weight. You can do this many different ways, but the easiest way would be to add some large fender washers to the bottom of the threaded rod, and lock them in place with some wing nut's. 

Depending on your camera, it may not be balanced at the point where the camera attaches to the threaded rod, so you might need to do what I did. I just took a piece of scrap metal and drilled out 3 holes so that I can attach weights to either side of the threaded rod. This allowed me to balance my camera by putting more weight on one side of the threaded rod. You don't have to use scrap metal either, you can use just what you have available. Be creative, and experiment!

Step 7: Assemble the Gimbal and Fork

Things we need for this step:

(2) Ball bearings

(2) 1/4"-20 x 1" machine screws

Next we are going to attach the Gimbal to the Fork. This step is pretty easy, and the photo's show how it all goes together.

First insert the ball bearings into both sides of the fork, and then insert the 1/4"-20 x 1" machine screws through the bearings. Then we are going to screw them into each side of the center gimbal. When you screw them together, the fork may flex a little bit, but just don't over-tighten the screws. You want the center gimbal to be centered in the fork, so that it doesn't wiggle from side to side, and have little resistance so that it swings freely. If you over-tighten the screws, the fork will bend and the center gimbal wont swing freely.

Step 8: Finishing Up

For the final step I threaded a shoelace through the hole in the end of handle and tied it off. This will act as a safety wrist strap in case you lose your grip on the handle.

To attach the camera, you simply screw the camera onto the end of the threaded rod. Then you tighten the upside down wing nut onto the base of the camera. This holds my camera nice a steady, but I have only tested it on my GoPro, so you may need to make an adjustment for your camera.

Adjusting the balance of your camera on this rig is really important! You can't just attach your camera and expect to get perfectly smooth shots, but luckily this setup is very flexible. There are a few different ways to adjust the weights in order to balance out your setup. The first thing you can do is adjust how far the camera sits above the gimbal. You don't want the threaded rod to be centered in the gimbal, you want to leave most of the threaded rod on the underside of the gimbal. You really shouldn't have to adjust this more than once. The other thing you need to adjust are the weights, and since we are using threaded rod, it is really easy to adjust. You can move the weights up and down the threaded rod, or adjust how much weight you use. You can also counter-act the weight of the camera by adjusting how far down the weight sits on the threaded rod. That way you don't have to put a lot of weights on the end, and you don't strain your wrist.

Balancing your camera can get kinda tricky, but it's not too hard to figure out. I can't really go into extreme detail on how to balance your camera, but there are plenty of videos on youtube that will show you how to do it.

Now, just go out and shoot some awesome videos!

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