Remote Control Camera Dolly

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About: I'm an environmentally conscious experimenter who loves to bring people together, build things, and when possible...blow things up! See us on YouTube too! https://youtube.com/WildmanTech

Intro: Remote Control Camera Dolly

Something very handy to have if you shoot video is a camera dolly. It's even cooler if it's powered, and having it remotely controlled is the icing on the cake. Here we build a remote control camera dolly for under $50 (at the time of this writing).

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Drill and bits
  • Hacksaw
  • Wrenches
  • Allen wrenches
  • Screwdrivers

Materials

Step 2: Make Your Platform

Cut (or find) a piece of wood suitable in size to use as a platform. I had a scrap of Oak 1x6" that was perfect. The wheels I found had ¼" bore so I was able to use ¼" cap screws for the axle. If you drill a 15/64" hole in hardwood, a ¼" bolt will thread right into it without much trouble and hold tight.

Drill three holes to mount the wheels. We're using three holes because aligning four wheels so it doesn't rock is pretty tough to get right the first time and I want to get you to success. Drill two holes in the corners on one side and one hole in the middle of the other side.

We had a broken tripod that had a good camera mount. It was on a 5/8" diameter tube so we drilled a hole to accept that tube and wedged it in.

Step 3: Mount Your Stepper Motor

This instructable was made long after I built the dolly, so the image won't match with some of parts I provided links to. For example. there is a link to buy a motor mount (for $3 at the time of this writing), but you can see that I made mine from aluminum angle. Also, the pully on mine is actually a block of aluminum I drilled to mount on the motor.

Mount your pulley on the motor and mount the motor on the mount. Wrap the pulley with enough rubber bands to make what is essentially a tire on the pulley. Mount the motor so this tire rubs on the center drive wheel.

Step 4: Mount the Controller Board

Designate which side of the unit will be the front and mount the controller board so the optical sensor faces that direction.

Plug the motor into the controller. Cut the USB cable and strip the shield off part of it. There should be four different color wires inside. Connect the black and red wires to the black and red power wire that came with the controller board and plug the power wire onto the board. Connect the other end to your USB charger and turn it on.

The + and - buttons will change the readout on the control board's digital display. A larger number is faster. Pushing the right and left arrow buttons makes it go.

Step 5: Watch Video of It Working

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    11 Discussions

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    BPACH

    4 hours ago

    Was there any engineering reason you didn't make the wheel direct drive instead of friction?
    My controllers finally got here and I am ready to start.

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    BPACH

    20 days ago

    Excellent. You have just created the greatest mount ever for a gopro camera.I need something that I can run through a drainage pipe and in tight places. I will send it down the pipe with a string attached and drag its tiny little butt back. It may not be exactly like yours, but you have planted the seed of the idea, and that is what instructables are about.

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    MarshBPACH

    Reply 20 days ago

    Excellent. Be sure to hit the "I built it button" when you do. I can't wait to see it!

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    videoschmideo

    24 days ago

    Cool idea. Any videos of what the resulting footage looks like? Seems like you’d need to use it on a very flat surface or else the image will be noticeably shaky.

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    videoschmideoMarsh

    Reply 23 days ago

    ah, gotcha - that's a great solution. Sounds like a cool angle, too! Would love to see some pics of the platform itself - I might try building something similar myself.

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    Marshagoncia

    Reply 24 days ago

    The minimum setting is "0" which provides 4 pulses per second. This equates to 4 seconds per revolution of the drive wheel.

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    Veda88

    24 days ago

    It looks like a great gadget, but on your video it looks like it's not moving very hoppy, got any clue why that is? Or is that just something that looks like that on the video?

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    MarshVeda88

    Reply 24 days ago

    If you go full screen you can see that I'm adjusting the speed to show the different rates of travel.

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    gregvp

    25 days ago

    This is a great idea. My wife has a camera with wifi, and there's an iPhone app for it that shows you what the camera sees on the phone's screen.

    This dolly would be great for getting those low angle, cat's eye view shots!