Basic Motorised Timelapse Camera Colly, Based on Lego Train

I wanted a dolly to record a timelapse movie with an automatically controlled motor for my iphone gorillapod, so I took the legotrain from my kids, measured the input voltage, added an arduino and mosfet and programmed the train to move one millimiter every five seconds.

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Step 1: Hacking the Legotrainconnector

I measured the voltage for the trainmotor, it works from 3-6v. Perfect for the 5v output of the arduino.

Use the topside, so if you want to give it back to your kids, you can easily remove the wires and rebuild it.

Step 2: Wireing the Arduino

It is possible to use an h-bridge to make the train go in two directions, but I was merely intrested in a quick sollutions, so ...

  • I used a tip120 mosfet (I guess this is ampère overkill, but anyway), connected as base via a 1K resistor to arduino port 2.
  • A led (+220Ohm) as control-light. (you can skip it)
  • 5v from the arduino to the train and the gnd of the train via the collector pin of the mosfet.
  • Finally the emitter side connected to the gnd of the arduino.

Step 3: Arduino Code

Super easy.

#define motorPort 2

void setup() {
  pinMode(motorPort, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  digitalWrite(motorPort, HIGH);
  delay(20); // giving just enough power to move 1mm)
  digitalWrite(motorPort, LOW);
  delay(5000); // wait 5 seconds

Step 4: Adding Some Blocks and ... Finished!

I know there are a lot of improvements possible

  • add an h-bridge to make the train go back
  • adding a contactswitch to automatically detect the end of the track and return
  • 3D desing a holder for other camera's (go-pro ...)

But I wanted to keep it simple.

Good luck building your own ;)

Step 5: Testing in the Backyard

The result from the backyard (on a windy afternoon)

view result:

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    2 Discussions


    Answer 1 year ago

    I didn’t mesure that. But I assume not much because there isn’t much friction because of the tracks and it only fires small bursts of current. An external power supply could be attached.