Radio Controlled Pan/Tilt Camera Mount

Introduction: Radio Controlled Pan/Tilt Camera Mount

STEP 1: Disclaimer

To explain exactly what I have done here would be to mislead you, confuse you & verge on loosing your patience as it has done for me over the past tens of hours that this has become my hobby. Please, keep in mind that I have relied solely on objects I had lying around the house/shed as I have spent a total of 35 cents on a #4 all-thread that was "required" for the axle repair. I would start with better base materials, given the opportunity (This particular RC Truck was given to me by my buddy's 3-year old, having both rear wheel assemblies sheared off at the body & only one front wheel assembly. I was planning a boat motor for a canoe I had recently designed), as it reflects that these were under-powered & broken at best.


An influence to this absurdity, a friend of mine does time-lapse from his roof & one day fell, crushed his talus & his camera. I got an idea, without much consideration for physics, & immediately embarked on a journey of gyroscopical proportions. My first attempt was pretty straight forward; strip all the nonsense from the body, I got a block of wood & screwed the truck down (on its side for visual effect). Knowing I had no spare gears to slow down the rear servo, & a rheo being out of the question with two AAs trying to push a S-Series camera, I started ripping apart an old box fan that was long toast. Stripping out the coil, leaving just the shaft, bearing & mini-motor cage, provided an excellent panning (X) axis. Plus, with the shaft becoming 2 1/2 " in the center it geared down quite nicely. For future reference, certain headbands or hair ties work great anywhere a rubber band may be lacking. I have a video around here somewhere..Then… BAM! I had gotten so caught up with my X-axis that I hadn't really considered the Y-axis. I mean, it's perfect, right there & ready to go. It's just the linkage that is now impossible with my servo sitting on stable ground. -That Y-axis servo HAS to be spinning on the X-axis to achieve a CONTINUOUS 360deg ROTATION.- That's cool if you got two controllers, two receivers & four hands, I don't though (I understand if you got the extra receiver & battpack it'd be a step towards 2-handed professionalism). I picked out the one wheel I had & fit it onto the all-thread & screwed it directly back onto the block... A Block of WOOD... Hey, I'm facing' up to it. That should have been my first warning. It gave me a false sense of support. The next step was figuring out the Y-axis. I had an old desk clock that was mounted on a half gyro so it could spin. I striped it so it was just the gyro & it sat perfectly onto the truck. A couple washers & a 1/4" thumb screw & I had the camera mount. A 1/4"ID grommet (Not an O-ring) fit perfectly onto the gearing for the steering. I screwed a #12 socket on the other side of the gyro to make the "pull" symmetrical (grommet is grippy, the socket being smooth). I put a piece of plumbers tape on the thumb screw; the length of which I believe is equivalent to bigger/smaller gears. Next, I connected a steel fishing leader to each side of the plumbers tape & connected them together with the correct tension. So now the Y works but the X did not because all the weight hanging out was dragging on the poor gear. Back to the "false sense of support" my first idea was castor wheels to support & 'roll' the weight around. It required two castors to move in both directions & it just created more drag. A suggestion from a friend broke that 'brick wall'; counter-weight. A pair of long forceps & adjustable weights was the ticket. Now I can interchange cameras with minimal effort. For example, my Kodak weighs 6.3 ounces, my Nikon weighs 6.5oz. So assuming it's perfectly balanced for the Kodak, I add 5.6 grams to the counter-weight. Not so scientifically I'd add, say, a partially used roll of electrical tape. Everything theoretically worked now but was still grossly under-powered, so I fitted the truck & controller with 9volts. Last step was mounting the contraption to a tripod, which a couple strips of Velcro was an easy fix. It must be perfectly level though, with the counter-weight design, so a bulls-eye level is needed in the field.


Step 3: Conclusion

Although this is a way cool accomplishment for me logistically, it's rendered almost useless by the limits that I surpassed. Being radio controlled suggests a 'hands free operation', but this is not true. Battery power lasts only so long for servos & camera alike. Also, seeing what your recording would be preferable. To be truly useful it needs power-in & AV-out. Wires mean not a continuous rotation. It almost sounds like I'm describing a security camera dome-style setup. The point is though is to put a decent camera on it. I will make a new version with the only batteries involved being in the RC controller. Thank you for reviewing this madness. Any & all constructive criticism is welcomed.

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    8 years ago

    I have more respect for a project made with parts found in the garage, house and shed than anything made using a 3D printer, laser cutter and endless resources. It's far more challenging and takes more creativity when you have a finite amount of supplies and limited resources. Mad respect!