Introduction: 3ft DIY Actobotics Camera Slider: Part 1

I've wanted to build a 3 foot slider to use as a portable time lapse slider. In the end, this will be configured to work with my eMotimo spectrum time lapse and video robot. For part 1 and the purposes of this instructable, it will be a video slider. Adding the components for the time lapse will come in a later tutorial.

I currently have a 6 foot 80/20 rail with a dynamic perception carriage. This rail is heavy and more difficult to transport. I also have built a 2 foot Actobotics slider to use with a smaller camera like a GoPro. The problem with the Actobotics channel slider is that it is continuous motion, which doesn't work well if you need longer exposures. This 3ft slider will be a more portable solution that will support a programmable shoot - move - shoot system.

A majority of the parts on this build were purchased from The rubber feet and arca swiss plate were purchased from Amazon. Obviously, the cameras and time lapse hardware were purchased elsewhere. My original design looked to use 1" carbon fiber tubes with rollers on the carriage. However, I decided to go with the x-rail option since I already had a bearing/v-wheel kit to use.

Step 1: Mounting X-Rail Extrusions

The base for my slider users a combination of Actobotics X-Rail extrusions and Standard Actobotics Channel. If you were going to build this as a slider for video only, you could probably skip the channel support. I added the middle channel for 2 reasons. First, I plan on using this as a time lapse slider, and the channel will house the belt drive. Secondly, I wanted to be able to mount this to a tripod using an acra swiss plate, so the channel will be used to support that hardware.

The nice thing about using X-rail, versus the more popular 80/20 rail, is that you can use a tap and die to create threads on the rail to mount directly to any 0.770in actobitics mount. **The rail I bought did not come tapped, so you need to have a 6-32 tap and die set to add the threads. Servocity now sells the x-rail with tapped threaded holes.

*** Edit: I found a couple of channel connectors, so I rebuilt this slider tonight to be simplified. Some of the pics still have the original design, but I was able to eliminate a bunch of parts and go with a more elegant solution.

Step 2: Carriage: Ball Bearing V-Wheels for X-Rail

You'll need 2 of the v-wheel kits for this build. To attach the wheels to the pattern plates, you'll need the X-rail roller brackets. The pattern plates are used to hold the camera. The picture shows a generic quick release plate, as eventually I'll be mounting the eMotimo Spectrum time lapse controller. You'll see in later pics and video, that I have a tripod head mounted for demonstration purposes. I used a spacer to get the quick release plate some room so the tightening knob could be accessed.

Step 3: Tripod Mount

I added this Arca swiss style plate to the middle channel so that I could mount this slider to a tripod. Although it seems to work with my DSLR camera, I don't feel that it should support that much weight. It works fine with my Sony RX100 or any mirrorless camera. Having 2 connection points will make the entire slider more stable. If I had to buy it again, I would buy a longer plate. Having the option to use this on a flat surface, or on a tripod will make it more versatile.

Step 4: How Does It Slide?

There is a bit of resistance, but the motion is very smooth. Again, I don't plan on using this as a video slider, so I didn't do a ton of testing on how it moves under manual motion.