Ball Bearing Jib Arm W/ Motorized Pan & Tilt




Introduction: Ball Bearing Jib Arm W/ Motorized Pan & Tilt

Update September 2013:  What started as a hobby has turned into something pretty serious.  We are readying the launch of an open-source cinematic motion-control rig.  If you wanna stay up on the futue of cinematography "like" us at //

Turn a telescope arm, workout bar bell, and scrap metal into a jib arm (camera crane)!

This 'Ible to be updated with more info over the next month or two.  If you like this project then check back for updates.

Basically there are 6 components to this jib arm, listed in order of difficulty to build:
1. Fork (connects the arms to the bearing)
2. Bearing Mount (connects tripod to the bearing)
3. Camera Mount (connects the arms to the camera/Meade)
4. Arms
5. Counter Weights
6. Meade Telescope Arm Assembly (Motorized Pan/Tilt)

Peep the video for some epic test shots.  And stay tuned at the end for a sneak peek at the next project (slider+jib)

DIY Ball Bearing Jib Arm (w/ Motorized Pan/Tilt) HDSLR from Brad Justinen on Vimeo.

Step 1: Fork

This is the only step that requires welding.  (lol at my welds btw)

-Made from 3/8"x2" steel flat stock.  The fork will bolt through the pillow block.
-Bronze Bearings (Bushings) which insert into the steel fork (this is very important). These bearings are for the up/down arm movement.  These can be found at some Home Depot / Lowe's but the best place to get them might be your local Fastenal, they are nation wide and have a huge selection. 

Step 2: Bearing Mount

-1" Horizontal Bearing (Pillow Block).  I got mine at a local metal supply shop but your local Fastenal should have them in stock and they are nationwide, $11.  
-2 round aluminum 3/8" plates connected by stand-offs, the bottom plate is threaded for the tripod, the pillow block bolts to the top plate,
-1" Stan-offs,
-Various spacers, washers, bolts.Bearing Mount:

Step 3: Camera Mount

The Camera Mount includes:
-Aluminum c-channel with bronze bushings inserted. The inside gap needs to be the same width as the gap between the steel fork. My gap was 2".
-Piece of aluminum angle bolted to the c-channel. The camera or pan/tilt head will mount to this.
-Various spacers, washers, bolts.

Step 4: JIb Arms

These also have to have bronze brushings inserted wherever a bolt will pass through (so there is no steel on steel friction). The size and length of the arms is up to you. It all depends on your design. Mine are 7' long. Both are aluminum square tubing, the top is 1.5" wide and the bottom is 1".

Step 5: Counter Weights

Counter Weights:
-Basically a stock weight lifting dumbbell. The handle of the dumbbell splits apart. I drilled a 1" hole in tail of the top jib arm and feed the dumbbell handle through it.

Step 6: Meade Telescope Arm Assembly

-Meade motorized pan/tilt arm from an automated Autostar telescope.  Also known as the "Milapse" mount by time lapse photographers.  Just google search "Milapse"
-Aluminum angle bracket

I got my 2nd and 3rd Meade arms on Craigslist for around $60 with the telescope. The first one I overpaid on eBay at around $120. If you don't live in a big city you will probably have to pay more.



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    32 Discussions

    Hello :) Awesome job! This is actually aiding me in my final year project. Have you used spacers, washer at the fork as well? I don't have a great notion of when I should user spacers or washers etc. so just curious. My design has has the pan motion, so I have to design the fork and also achieve the motion.


    hello, by any chance, did it come with the remote control? i am looking for one. My telescope has no brains. can't move without it.

    if so, are you willing to sell it?

    How did you keep the bearing from not coming off from the pillow block housing?

    HI, nice Jib. How did you keep the bearing from not coming off from the housing? thanks

    How fast can you move the head?
    Like if i were to create this and use it for snowboarding videos or action, how fast would it move?

    what kind of power are you using for the arm? 8 x AA's or something else?

    thank you so much for all the hard work, trying to copy cat you right now.... wondering how much space is in-between your two arms? what is the total height of the Fork? and also the length of the C- Channel? thank you very much for all your help!

    1 reply

    4" between holes. Fork is 10.5". C-channel is 6" high.

    sorry for the delay. if you are like me you already figured it out. even if you had to remake your first fork. like i did. lol.

    Hello! Thank you for your work! Lot of required information i got here.
    Tell me please, were can I get Meade arm or something like that. I live in Ukraine, I have not found such or very expensive( from 1000$ with telescope only). I have no idea what is Craigslist. At ebay expensive too(150$-200$ without shipping). Tnx!

    1 reply

    Hi, great stuff, very, very helpful but could you please give me a part number foe the Meade head? I'm having trouble finding it on their web site. Thank you.

    1 reply

    The Motorized Pan/Tilt arm is from an Meade Autostar Telescope. They can be found on eBay. They are also known as the "Milapse" mount. Milapse is the user name for the guy that pioneered this hack.

    Doesn't have a model number. They can be found in two color though. Black and Blue/Gray. The Blue one is newer and has an addition bearing for the pan movement.

    Nice smooth Video. Too many times we have to look at jumpy videos and it is irratating at best.
    Yours are professional quality. Thank you. I am going to forward this to a Photographer friend in Montana.

    1 reply

    Thanks man. I have seen a lot of jumpy videos too. I had to redesign this thing a couple times until the video was 100% smooth. Glad someone noticed.

    besides the fork the entire thing is aluminum. I cant weld aluminum so I used steel for the fork.