About three years ago I build myself a motorized camera slider. I didn't have a 3D printer at that time so I used some old inkjet printer parts and LEGO :) Surprisingly it still works, but not as good as I want too. It's quite big and doesn't look nice. When I was making it that was a big project for me, I designed a sophisticated PCB that I made at home and instead of Arduino, I programmed an atmega with Eclipse in C. I used it in some of my videos, but traveling with it is a pain, setting it up takes some time and you need a big 12V battery.
I have a 3D printer for quite some time now and I decided it's time to go back to camera slider and make it better :) The First idea was to use a NEMA17 stepper motor to create a motorized camera slider, but it's too big. I thought about using a geared DC motor, but you can't control it as precisely as I would like to. Finally, I thought that instead of making a motorized slider I can create a super simple hand powered slider that will be inexpensive and easy to replicate. And here we are! Hope this instructable will be useful for you, let's get started!
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Step 1: Watch the Video!
You can see how I made it in the video above or you can just keep reading, it's up to you :)
Step 2: Parts
Here is what we will need to make this project:
- Ball head: https://goo.gl/CAoR2T
- Aluminum profiles: https://goo.gl/YiK8mf
- Wheels (those are slightly different than what I used): https://goo.gl/mH8wps
- 4 screws M5x20mm
- 4 screws M6x10mm
- 3D printed parts: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3318408
Except for some basic tools, we will need an M6 tap.
You need 4 small 3D printed parts if you don't have a 3D printer ask at school, library or your friends. If you want to buy one check out this one: https://goo.gl/RCGHLx
Step 3: Assemble Camera Carriage
This is the part that will travel between the aluminum profiles, we will also put right here our camera. Firstly put M5x20mm screws in the holes then screw on ball head to the plate (it actually makes more sense to first screw the ball head and then put screws in place, don't know why I did it the other way around). Put wheels on the screws and then attach the bottom plate. Tighten the screws with a screwdriver. Check out images above to see how I placed each component.
Step 4: Cut Threads Inside Aluminium Profiles
That may be the hardest part, we have to make threads inside aluminum profiles on both sides of both aluminum profiles, so we have to make 4 threads. Before cutting the thread we have to drill out this hole with 5mm drill bit. After that we can grab M6 tap and create a thread, take your time on that, don't rush, try to be gentle. Don't go all the way at once, do it gradually.
Step 5: Assemble
Now the easy part, if your threads are ok, this part will be super simple :) All we have to do is to fix two 3D printed plates to the aluminum profiles. Remember to put camera carriage between the profiles. I used for that M6x16mm screws, I don't have any shorter M6 screws at home, but if you have 10mm or 12mm long screws, those will be perfect. To protect 3D printed part I also added washers below the screw head but this is not necessary.
Step 6: Enjoy :)
It works great! Really, I am surprised. It's so simple but works nice. Of course the smoothness of movement strongly depends on how you move your hand but with a little bit of practice, it will work almost as smooth as the motor. And look at how ecological this solution is, you don't need battery, electricity or anything. It will work always in any condition :) Even though I have been making electronics project for the last few years and I have been developing Android apps for quite some time, I love these simple solutions, no app, no login, no electricity and it just works out of the box without charging :)
Step 7: Conclusion
I hope you like this very simple project that can be useful for filmmakers but not only. Camera sliders are usually very expansive so here is an easy way to get a decent slider for a good price with a little bit of work.
Thanks for reading!
Happy making :)