Introduction: The CamWow 3000

About: i am a freelance camera operator/director, dad, and RN.

Anyone with a motor can make a camera slider. The visual effect of a tracking shot is really cool, and adds a lot to any shot. What I set out to build was a slider that could actually support a pretty heavy camera and lens, and also pan while sliding. Sounds easy, but there is a lot to adding that second dimension.

Step 1: Building the Frame

i used some 1x4 pine and built this frame to hold a set of 24" drawer sliders.

I started building from what i call the camera "sled" out. in this case i used a 2x6 board and worked out from there. just using drywall screws to sort of "dry fit" the setup, since as you build it, you see that some things get in the way of other things.

This video shows a 36 inch long threaded rod being tested as the drive device. it works, but not great.

Step 2: A Test of the Tracking Move With the Awesome Accelstepper Library

Ditched the screw drive idea, switched to stepper motors, which i have never used before. very accurate, powerful, quirky, and they sound cool too.

i used a MegaPi controller and arduino to program it, using the accelstepper library from these geniuses.

AccelStepper website

I am super new to C++ so, whatever these guys did to make this motor ramp like a champ, they deserve all the credit for that one, and the cool sound of the motor.... love that!

The sled pulls itself along on a fixed timing belt. Most of the hardware here is from MakeBlock, except for the rollers that pinch the toothed pulley, they are simply bearings from the local hardware store.

Step 3: Added the Pan Motor and Pulley Assembly

I have to admit, i got very lucky, many years ago some guy gave me this old tripod with a pretty interesting head on it. While it wasn't a true fluid head, it was pretty heavy duty, but also really stiff from neglect, i took it apart, oiled it back up, and glued a piece of timing belt around its base.

First i tried using a gear right onto the glued on belt. That worked, but it required a lot of torque form the stepper motor, and it had a tendency to skip out of its teeth. So i tried a drive belt. That worked better, but at slow speeds the "steps" of the stepper were noticeable in the footage. So i added another pulley/gear reduction sort of thing using more parts form MakeBlock, and now the pan is very smoooove.

Step 4: Time to Set Up Some Props, and Test the Move!

This is an indoor test of the rig with the pan at about 45 degrees.

Step 5: Outdoor Feild Test With a Larger Degree of Pan

this was the first real test with Magic Lantern loaded on the old Canon 5d MII, unfortunately not a great lens, but the move is pretty smooth, maybe almost too much pan in this one. but it was a success!

Invention Challenge 2017

Participated in the
Invention Challenge 2017