Arduino Time Lapse Slider




Introduction: Arduino Time Lapse Slider

About: my main interest is in photography, but i like to tinker and Arduino has opened many more options for creating electronics projects I could have not even imagined in my younger years. it also allows me to gi...

so i had been looking into making a timelapse video with my dslr and had seen many using a slider mechanism to add another dimension. I looked at buying one but they are a little expensive to buy just to "dip ones toes into the water" so to speak. i had a lot of the bits from an arduino starter kit i had bought so i decided to attempt to make one.

this is what i did....

Step 1: Home Made (sort Of) Arduino Timelapse Slider

given that the sliding mechanism needs to be reasonably smooth as well as sturdy i decided to keep an eye out for that part of the mechanism on ebay i managed to find a 500mm slider for a little over £30 and this was the most expensive part of the whole exercise. the next thing a realised was it would not be a good idea to stick external voltages through my £800 camera body's remote trigger input. so i elected to use an opto isolator, this is a kind of electronic relay but would require far less power from the arduino side of things.

so to start let's get a list of materials

  • slider kit, like this one
  • belt and pully kit, like this one
  • stepper motor and driver, like this one
  • arduino pro mini or arduino uno, like this one (ensure 5v)
  • remote control and ir sensor, like this one (may need to play with code to match buttons layout)
  • 1602 lcd display with i2c module, like this one
  • LED to indicate camera trigger (optional)
  • 4N35 or equivalent opto isolator this search will reveal how this works as well as suggesting alternatives
  • old usb lead for power, lead for remote operation of camera.
  • push to make button for stopping and n/o micro switches for limit (optional)

Step 2: Wiring Arduino Slider Programming and Testing

so now having waited for China post and hopefully having a full list of materials we can start assembling the wiring as per the diagram above, taking care to ensure that the cameras remote trigger remains isolated from all other parts of the circuit i also used a usb lead instead of the AA's and a usb power bank this gave me a regulated 5v supply for the arduino and the stepper motor.

now we will need to upload the code to the arduino, you will need the following libraries to complete the upload

  • Stepper.h
  • IRremote.h
  • Wire.h
  • LiquidCrystal_I2C.h

some are included in the default install of the arduino ide

if the upload completes successfully then you should new be able to control the stepper motor with the jog buttons to reset its travel set its step speed with the number buttons and increase and decrease the delay with the + and - buttons, i have set a minimum of 1 sec and a maximum delay of 10 seconds this could be adjusted easily in the code and i have added notes so you can find the part that would need changing. i have also set the movement speed to be adjustable from around 1mm to 5mm again this could be easily customised within the code also.

Step 3: Final Build

now things are working we can assemble the device. i had to get creative and make two brackets from some old pieces of steel to support the stepper motor and jockey pulley and then create a bracket to hold the belts two loose ends to the carriage with the correct tension. i found an old enclosure to place the workings in and attach the lcd display and buttons, i made a small hole for the ir sensor and connected the usb lead and camera trigger lead to the electronics.

you can see more examples and sample shots of the device at the link below.

let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

further examples of my time lapse videos created with this device can be found on my youtube channel here.



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    23 Discussions

    further examples of my time lapse videos created with this device can be found on my youtube channel here.

    follow this guide to install library's into the Arduino IDE you may have some or all of them in a standard install of the Arduino IDE.

    the broken link is to photos of my finished rail ill see if i can get that fixed.

    i have improved the design using a more powerful motor did you check my other instructables? what camera are you intending to use with the rail?

    I have put it together, have to look what i did wrong, only display light.Still nit working jet. I have a Nikon d750 and if this works i going to look at the upgrade.

    Program is working now, I start building tomorrow, Thanks

    Link fixed...

    Hi I would just like to ask is the stepper motor is rated at 5v or 12v? if its 12V how did you power it?

    1 reply

    this was my initial design and tbh i found it did not have the required power to move my dslr up an incline this stepper is rated for 5v only and as such does not have a lot of torque having said that if you are using a small camera then this would be fine and very easy to build. take a look at my other instructables to see how this project progressed to a 12v nema 17 stepper motor with enough torque to lift to dslr's at the same time. im also working on a pan / tilt module to give a 3 axis time lapse rail.

    hi bro, i want to make the same slider but without IR.

    can you help me for the code using 5-button.

    I have the following components:

    16x2 lcd display

    stepper motor 400steps/revolution

    EasyDriver Stepper motor driver

    Arduino Uno

    thank you in advance...

    Ok, and thank you for helping me, i post here informations about the stepper and driver i have. This is all i have. The motors are from junk yard from diferent printers. All are ok.

    1 reply

    add me on facebook i need to chat in real time it will speed things up no end

    Ooo and i saw your timelapse videos on youtube. Magnificent!!!!

    Hope to do my own timelapses soon!!!!

    I need to build everything bechause i don't have a slider and my budget for this is low, so i use as a part of hardware what you see here for slider.

    I have an Arduino Uno and LCD 16X2 with I2C adapter.

    As IRremote i think to use the remote and the IR sensor from a car FM transmitter. It uses the same remote like i saw in the pictures of your materials list.

    the question is if i can use a stepper driver that can do microsteps, and what i need to modify in the skech to make'it work. I don't know almost anything about programing arduino but my setup seems to work.

    1 reply

    i can help with the programming. what stepper motor are you intending to use? i would recommend a Nema 17 stepper. if you let me know what stepper you are using i may be able to modify my code from this or my other project to work for you.

    The Ustepper board is far to expensive for me, and can not be found in my country.

    but is possible to set the parameters without IR?

    With Buttons?

    what tipe of remote you use and how you connect with arduino?

    2 replies

    sure you can do this project without IR you would need 5 button inputs to setup interval and distance of travel between each shot. are you intending to use the same stepper motor as per my instrucatable above? did you have a look at my new time lapse projects which are easier to implement? but sure im happy to help you with your project let me know a few more details about the hardware you intend to use. you can buy the IR receiver and remote control from the link in my list of materials above for very little.

    the IR receiver has 3 connections vcc (5v), gnd, and data. in my example i used pin 6 on the arduino pro mini for the IR data pin connection.