Hey all, someone gave me the idea to make an inexpensive panoramic camera jig using a kitchen timer for some awesome time lapse footage. The whole project costs under $5!! Unless of course you need to buy the camera as well ;)
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Ok so lets get started. As always, we begin with the tools and materials involved. Pick up a kitchen timer (bought mine at walmart for around $3) 1/4"-20 bolt at least 1-1/2" long Wing nut (can be substituted with a regular hex nut) Stop nut (can be substituted with yet another regular hex nut) small L-bracket (the smallest one you can find) Tiny bolt (just found it lying around in my toolbox). Tools: I found it helpful to have a drill with assorted drill bits and a rotary tool with a metal cutting wheel attachment.
Step 2: Adjustments
Now that you have to tools and materials, we need to make a few adjustments to insure a proper fit. First, you'll want to cut the L-bracket to size so that one of the holes is centered on the dial knob. I used my rotary tool with the metal cutting disc attachment to cut the L-bracket to size. Once you've got that done, use your drill and find a bit just a tad bit smaller than the diameter of your bolt and drill a hole through the dial knob - centered.
Step 3: Assembly
Ok so lets start piecing the assembly together. First you'll want to thread your 1/4"-20 bolt through the L-bracket on the end you did NOT cut and secure it with the stop nut (or regular hex nut...although I'd put a lock washer if you're going that route to make sure it doesn't loosen up). Once you've secured the bolt, thread the wing nut (or regular hex nut) onto the bolt - backwards.
Step 4: Attach the Assembly
So you've got your timer with a hole in the dial knob and now you have your camera assembly pieces together. Last step is to attach the assembly to the timer using your remaining bolt. It should be snug and screwed in by hand if possible. The bolt will create a threaded channel as it is screwed into the plastic - using a drill may compromise this thread and simply create a rounded hole if it is screwed in too quickly or too far into the dial knob. Attach your camera to the assembly via the 1/4"-20 bolt and "unscrew" the wing nut to secure it in place. To operate, simply turn the dial and start filming.
Step 5: Pros and Cons
Pros: Cheap to make and operate Materials are easy to find Compact design Timer "rings" when its done turning Cons: Non-adjustable tracking speed Limited to small, lightweight cameras Susceptible to winds and loose terrain In-between: The base of this particular kitchen timer sets the dial at an angle which may interfere with obtaining straight and level shots; however, you may compensate for that by simply propping something under the timer itself or by adjusting the angle of the assembly (this may require you to round the corners of the L-bracket). On the other hand, it does seem to give my footage a bit of perspective and added interest by having it preset at an angle. Subject to your approval.