Introduction: Remote Control Camera Dolly
Something very handy to have if you shoot video is a camera dolly. It's even cooler if it's powered, and having it remotely controlled is the icing on the cake. Here we build a remote control camera dolly for under $50 (at the time of this writing).
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Drill and bits
- Allen wrenches
- Adjustable speed stepper motor controller with remote. Available here... http://amzn.to/2Cw9dqV
- NEMA 17 Stepper Motor. Available here... http://amzn.to/2HosEpn
- Stepper motor mount... https://amzn.to/2O09LPK
- Stepper motor belt pulley like this or similar... https://amzn.to/2ps5ruU
- 5 volt Power Supply. I use a Duracell USB charger similar to this... http://amzn.to/2Cv8bf9
- Three wheels for it to roll on. Skate wheels like these would work, but use whatever is handy... https://amzn.to/2QMifZi
- Wood platform to build it on.
- Donor tripod from which to scavenge the camera mount.
- Rubber bands
- USB cable
Step 2: Make Your Platform
Cut (or find) a piece of wood suitable in size to use as a platform. I had a scrap of Oak 1x6" that was perfect. The wheels I found had ¼" bore so I was able to use ¼" cap screws for the axle. If you drill a 15/64" hole in hardwood, a ¼" bolt will thread right into it without much trouble and hold tight.
Drill three holes to mount the wheels. We're using three holes because aligning four wheels so it doesn't rock is pretty tough to get right the first time and I want to get you to success. Drill two holes in the corners on one side and one hole in the middle of the other side.
We had a broken tripod that had a good camera mount. It was on a 5/8" diameter tube so we drilled a hole to accept that tube and wedged it in.
Step 3: Mount Your Stepper Motor
This instructable was made long after I built the dolly, so the image won't match with some of parts I provided links to. For example. there is a link to buy a motor mount (for $3 at the time of this writing), but you can see that I made mine from aluminum angle. Also, the pully on mine is actually a block of aluminum I drilled to mount on the motor.
Mount your pulley on the motor and mount the motor on the mount. Wrap the pulley with enough rubber bands to make what is essentially a tire on the pulley. Mount the motor so this tire rubs on the center drive wheel.
Step 4: Mount the Controller Board
Designate which side of the unit will be the front and mount the controller board so the optical sensor faces that direction.
Plug the motor into the controller. Cut the USB cable and strip the shield off part of it. There should be four different color wires inside. Connect the black and red wires to the black and red power wire that came with the controller board and plug the power wire onto the board. Connect the other end to your USB charger and turn it on.
The + and - buttons will change the readout on the control board's digital display. A larger number is faster. Pushing the right and left arrow buttons makes it go.