Introduction: OpenSAM 3D Printed Camera Stabilizer Steadicam Gimbal

About: We are a team of three students with a passion for electronics and robotics. Recently, we have made a 3D printed camera stabilizer called OpenSAM. We hope to see yours working. Our contact information can be f…

The OpenSAM by OHM is developed for filmmaking amateurs and professionals. The design allows a broad spectrum of cameras of varying sizes and weights to be stabilized. The use of 3D printing technology for the mechanical construction means that it can easily be reproduced and any design changes are easily implemented. The 3D printed parts are also lightweight (actually lighter than any commercial carbon-based designs). All parts were printed in PLA using Ultimaker Original 3D Printers or Bq Witbox 3D Printers and the files have been made available under an open source license through our GitHub and website.

The brushless gimbal stabilization system uses three brushless motors to stabilize the axes. One 8-bit brushless gimbal controller (BGC), an expansion card and an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) is all the electronics needed for assembly. Our model seen in the video and pictures cost under $200 in parts, excluding the 3D-printed parts (which are free to print as students in Denmark). This should be compared to the price of similar gimbals, which start at around $1000.

Step 1: Diagram

[1] Brushless Gimbal Motor (x3)
[2] Yaw joint
[3] Joystick case (contains joystick)
[4] Grip arm left
[5] Grip arm right
[6] Handle (x2)
[7] Bracket L
[8] Bracket U Bottom
[9] Bracket U Top
[10] Grip arm one-hand (Optional)
[11] Handle (Optional)
[12] Suggested mounting place for bat- tery
[13] (Back side) Suggested mounting place for yaw case
[14] (Back side) Suggested mounting place for main case
[15] Mounting place for IMU

Step 2: Get and Produce the Parts

3D printed parts

Print all the 3D printed parts using your 3D printer. We used Ultimaker and Witbox 3D printers. We refer to the manual at our website for a detailed description of all the parts and tips on printing.

Third party electronics

You'll also need some third party parts. We refer to the manual at our website for a detailed description of all the parts and links to webpages where we obtained these parts.

  • Electronics set with IMU such as the BaseCam SimpleBGC 8-bit Set (x1)
  • Brushless gimbal motors (×3)
  • Battery (×1)
  • Joystick with button (×1)

Generic parts

The following generic parts are also used. Again, we refer to the manual at our website for a detailed description.

  • M2.5 Screws (×9)
  • M3 Screws (×14) and M3 nuts (×2)
  • M4 Screws (×3) and M4 nuts (×3)
  • Wood Screws (×2 + ×2)
  • Camera mounting screw (×1)
  • Reattachable fasteners (ca. 40 cm)
  • Cable extensions (optional)

Step 3: Assemble OpenSAM

  1. Part [15] is mounted underneath part [7] using two 4.5mm bolts and nuts.
  2. A motor (part [1]) is attached on the back of part [7] using four M3 bolts. Choose the holes on part [7] so that when a camera is mounted in one of the two bottom holes, the camera’s center of mass will align with the motor’s rotational axis.
  3. Mount part [8] on the motor (part [1]) using three M2.5 bolts.
  4. The case for the BaseCam mainboard is placed at position [14] at the back of part [8] using a reattachable fastener of your choice. If anything should ever brake or a part should get updated, replacing the part is that much easier.
  5. The BaseCam mainboard is mounted into the case
  6. Put a new motor on part [8] using four 3mm bolts.
  7. Part [9] is put through part [2] and attached to part [8] using a 4.5mm screw in one side, and three M2.5 bolts on the motor (part [1])
  8. Put part [4] and part [5] together using M3 bolts and nuts, to assemble the handlebar.
  9. Mount the last motor (part [1]) on the handlebar using three M2.5 bolts. If the onehanded grip (part [10]) is used, it needs to be mounted in between the handlebar and the new motor and thus the M2.5 should be 25mm long.
  10. Put the handlebar through part [2] and mounted to the upper motor using four M3 bolts.
  11. Use two 4mm bolts and nuts to fasten and position the camera’s center of mass so it aligns with the motor’s rotational axis.
  12. Mount both parts [6] to the handlebar using two long (approx. 80mm length) woodscrews.
  13. Put the joystick into part [3] and mount it to the right part [6] using a tie-wrap. Wire the joystick by connecting the onboard 5V and GND to the joystick and connect the BTN on the mainboard to the SW and GND on the joystick. This means that you have to merge two cables into one GND pin on the joystick. Lastly, the VRy and VRx on the joystick go into RX_ROLL and RX_PITCH on the mainboard.
  14. If part [10] is mounted, attach part [11] using proper sized woodscrews.
  15. The case for the BaseCam yaw board is placed at position [13] at the back of part [8] using a reattachable fastener of your choice.
  16. The BaseCam yaw board is mounted into the cas.
  17. The battery is placed at position [12] at the back of part [8] using a reattachable fastener of your choice.

Step 4: Configure OpenSAM

Depending on your choice of electronics, once OpenSAM is assembled, some settings need to be tuned in.

We refer to our website for a description of the settings we used for our SimpleBGC AlexMos system. See screenshots here if you want a quick idea.

That's it!

Thank you very much for reading this Instructable and happy printing/filming!

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