Intro: MOTORIZED CAMERA SLIDER With TRACKING SYSTEM (3D Printed)
Basically, this robot will move a camera/smartphone on a rail and “track” an object. The target object location is already known by the robot. The math behind this tracking system is quite simple. We have created a simulation of the tracking process here.
The camera, placed on a carriage as it moves, will point at the target object according to the info provided to the robot (that is: the target current location. Keep in mind that the robot already knows where the camera is).
The speed and start/stop actions are controlled from your own smartphone. For this, the smartphone has to be connected to the robot´s WIFI network.
As the speed can be adjusted as desired (from the smartphone), you can move the “camera carriage” as slow as desired, making possible to create TIME LAPSE videos.
Step 1: PARTs LIST
We have used common elements from the DIY/MAKER World in order to make this robot accessible and affordable.
- 1.4 meters of GT2 6mm width timing belt.
- 2x aluminium pipes or inox steel bars (5/16 inch or 8mm diameter) up to 1000 mm long
- 2x 623zz ball bearing
- 1x 608 ball bearing
- 3x LM8UU linear bushing 24x15x8
- Set of M3 6mm bolts
- Set of M3 15mm bolts
- 1x M3 nut
- 1x M3 self blocking nut
- 1/4 "Screw For DSLR Camera / case / flashlight
- 1x 20 teeth GT2 pulley (optional as you can print it by yourself. STL 3D models here)
- Brain Shield + Arduino Leonardo (the Brain shield can be created by yourself, schematic attached -pdf-)
- 2x Stepper motor drivers
- 2x NEMA 17 high torque stepper motors + 14 cms cms + long cable (100 cms)
- Micro-USB cable (you do not really it if you get the KIT from us, the arduino will be already programmed)
You can get everything on your own (most of elements are the same used in the B-robot, iboardbot,sphere-o-bot, Scara Robotic arm, Air hockey Robot...) or save the hassle ordering the CUSTOMIZABLE KIT from our shop (and at the same time you will be supporting jjRobots):
GET THE CAMERA SLIDER PARTS from jjRobots (Customizable KIT)
Step 2: Controlling the CAMERA SLIDER (free APP)
Step 3: Elements Used in This Robot
If you already have the parts needed to create this robot you already have 90% of the items needed to create:
- the Sphere-o-bot: friendly art robot that can draw on spherical or egg-shaped objects from the size of a ping pong ball to a large duck egg (4-9 cm).
- The Iboardbot: The iBoardbot is a robot connected to the internet capable of writing texts and drawing with great precision
- or the Air hockey robot!: A challenging air hockey robot, perfect to have fun!
- TheB-robot EVO
- , the fastest self balancing robot
All of them use the same electronics and ancillary elements
GET THE CAMERA SLIDER PARTS from jjRobots (Customizable KIT)
Step 4: 3D Printing All the Parts. Printing Time: 10-14 Hours (depending on the 3Dprinter)
PLA will do the job. When printing, set the wall thickness= 1.2 mm and infill to at least 25%. The 3D part "10 teeth gear" has to be printed with an infill of 100%. This is important. This element will have to transmit the power from the NEMA motor to the rotating platform. Place the elements on the printer´s heated bed with the orientation indicated above. Depending on your 3D printer (nozzle size, type of PLA, flow...) the ball bearings/ metal bars can be hard to insert into their holes/slots but do not hesitate to use a small hammer to push them in. But be gentle!. All the 3D parts models are available at Thingiverse
Step 5: Assembling
Basically, this is a rail with a platform that will travel on it controlled by an Arduino + 2 NEMA17 stepper motors. The two motors will be in charge of: 1) move back and forward the camera platform 2) pan the camera as it moves on the rail. The GOPRO/Smartphone adapter is optional, so you do not have to 3D print it is you are planning to use a regular photo camera. The total length of the rail can be modifiable. Depending on the weight of the camera (SLRs) you will need to use steel bars for the rails or just aluminium tubes. The 3D parts have been designed for 8mm (or 5/16 inchs) diameter round tubes/ bars. To up to 1 meter, the robot behaves smoothly, over that length and for a camera of more than 500 grams (1.1 pounds) the metal bar might bend under the weight while the camera cross the middle of the rail.
This is the robot 3D model. Click on PLAY a take a 3D look at it. Get back to this model if you have doubts about where to place an element.
After printing the robot´s part, you will need to remove the support triangle/flap just under the shaft. It was needed to print it correctly but not needed anymore. Clean up the burrs. You can use pliers if you want. A knife will work too.
insert the 3 LM8UU linear bearings as shown. You will hear a "click" once they are fully inserted.
Step 6: GOPRO / Smartphone Holder
This is the GOPRO/smartphone adapter: This element is optional. We have created it as the GOPRO´s has the time-lapse feature and it is quite straightforward to use. The slider will allow you to place any smartphone on top of the adapter no matter it thickness. There is a 6mm M3 bolt in charge of keeping the slider (under my thumb in the photo) in the channel. You have to insert it from below and through the hole. Then "capture" it with the nut that you have previously inserted into the "nut cap". See the photos to get an idea of what we are talking about.
Insert the M3 nut into the "blocking cap" and use a M3 6mm bolt
NOTE: Over-tightening bolts: The frame of this robot has been made of PLA plastic. Do not force the bolts too much into their places.
Step 7: Using a SDLR Camera or a GOPRO /smartphone?
Insert the camera screw and the 608 ball bearing as indicated.
Camera screw: this screw (1/4 " + ring) will fix the CAMERA (DSLR) to the rotating plate. It can be accessed from below using a screwdriver even when the 608 ball bearing is in place. To detach the camera from this plate you will have to lift the platform and unscrew it.
You will need 2x M3 15mm bolts to fix the GOPRO/Smartphone camera adapter to the rotating plate.
Step 8: Attaching the Motors
Now it is time for the motors. Fix this one to the MOTOR Legs using 4x M3 6mm bolts. Let the cable connector pointing to the right
Insert two 623zz ball bearings into the pulley and use a 15mm M3 bolt + self blocking nut to fix it to the Pulley Legs part. Once placed you should not feel any friction on this part.
Step 9: Placing the Timing Belt
- Insert the GT2 timing belt as indicated. Keep in mind that the total length of the timing belt will depend on the rails length you have chosen. With the KIT, we supply 700 mm long bars/ pipes.
- Fix the motor to the carriage like this, use 4x M3 6mm bolts for this. The timing belt has to be under the motor.
- Insert the 10 tooth gear into the motor axis. You might need to use a small hammer to do this. Remember to be gentle. This part will have to move the rotating plate on top transmitting the power from the motor. Do not push it completely into the axis.There must be a tiny gap between the gear and the carriage supporting ring to avoid friction.
- Insert the 20 tooth GT2 pulley into the motor axis and fix it using an Allen key. This element should as low as you can place it but always leaving a tiny gap between the pulley and the 3D part.
Step 10: Finishing the Frame
Insert the 2 metal bars/pipes through the carriage and into the lateral legs. Run the GT2 timing belt through the pulleys as shown and pass the GT2 timing belt
With the KIT we supply 1.4 meters of GT2 6mm timing belt for a maximum rail length of 700 mm. Remember that you can use any length for this robot: The control APP can handle it. We will show that later. To finish this part, Insert the timing belt into the dented "catcher" as indicated and cut the remaining but before, tighten it.
Step 11: Top Plate
Try to insert the top plate into the carriage´s shaft. If the shaft is free of burrs, it should be easy (but tight). You can leave it on top if you are not planning to attach a camera which needs the camera screw to get fixed to the rotating plate.
Step 12: Connecting Everything
Time to connect the motors. Depending on the orientation of the cable´s plugs connected to the Brain shield, the motors will rotate in one direction or the other. That might be useful at some point, but by default, check how to connect them to the Brain shield. The stepper motor drivers (red modules) must be connected as indicated. This is important. The heatsinks (small aluminium pieces with a sticky pad on them) must be placed carefully on top of the black modules not touching any metal headers. Otherwise, you can create a short circuit and damage the electronics.
GET THE CAMERA SLIDER PARTS from jjRobots (Customizable KIT)
Step 13: Programming the Arduino Leonardo
(skip this step if you got the CAMERA SLIDER kit version. The Arduino is already programmed)
a) Install the Arduino IDE on your PC from (skip this step if you have the Arduino IDE already installed)
This CAMERA SLIDER code has been tested and developed on IDE version 1.6.5 and later versions. If you have a problem compiling the code, let us know
b) Download all the arduino files from here
Extract the files inside a folder named "CameraSlider_v4 " in your hard drive
c) Compile and send the code to the Arduino Leonardo
- Open your Arduino IDE
- Open the main code in /CameraSlider_v4/CameraSlider_v4.ino
- Connect your Leonardo board with the USB to the PC
- Note: If this is the first time you connect a Leonardo board to your PC maybe you might need to install the driver.
- Select the board Leonardo (tools->board)
- Select the serial port that appears on the tools->Serial port
Send the code to the board (UPLOAD button: Arrow pointing to the RIGHT)
Step 14: Control It From Your Smartphone
Link to the USER GUIDE here (frequently updated)
It has been created to control, in a simple way, the camera slider. It will allow you to move the platform with almost any camera on top, with a predetermined speed. This speed can be modified in real time for cool video effects. By default (the limits can be changed in the Arduino code), the travelling speed of the platform can be set from 0.01 mm/sec to 35 mm/sec
Depending on your set-up you will need to adjust the RAIL LENGTH value: measure the total length of the rail the carriage can travel on. For example, if you are using 1000 mm metal bars, the available rail for the carriage would be around 800 mm (1000 mm minus the piece of rail inserted into the lateral supports).
In order to control the CAMERA SLIDER you will have to:
- Connect the Arduino Leonardo to any DC power supply (from 9 to 12 V). With the KIT we supply a 12V 1A power supply or a battery holder (9V)
- Wait 5-10 seconds for the robot to create a WIFI Network (called JJROBOTSXX)
- Connect your smartphone to that WIFI Network using the password: 87654321
- Then start the control APP (CAMERA SLIDER APP). NOTE: if you are not already connected to the robot´s WIFI NETWORK, the APP will let you know that
- Move the carriage (the plate where your camera/smartphone is attached to) to the motor´s end. From there, the camera/smartphone should be pointing to the side indicated in the scheme below. That would be the "filming side" for the CAMERA SLIDER
- For a tracking object travel, the camera has to be pointing to the target object. To the center of the object to be filmed. The robot will keep orientating the camera to that point during the travel on the rail
- Configure the control values as desired according to your needs. How to do it:
NOTE: You do not have to place the camera platform by the very end of the rail, you can start from anywhere.
The RAIL LENGTH value, will let the APP know how long the camera carriage will travel before start coming back to the original location. This value does not have to be the real length of the rail, just the segment in which the camera will swing back and forward continuously. Take a look at the image below: you can set the RAIL LENGTH value equal to 400 mm even when the REAL length of the rail is longer. Doing this, the camera travel will be restricted within a virtual rail of 400 mm. Keep in mind that the camera has to be pointing to the object before starting to move to track it correctly
NOTE: Using the DELAYED START option you will have enough time to configure the CAMERA SLIDER ,START it and place the smartphone on the moving platform
Step 15: Useful LINKS:
Runner Up in the