Universal, 2 Gyro Image Stabilizer




About: No more fun than demolition, designing, building, experimenting! I like making things on a really low budget , so most people in this world, who are poor, might benefit from my ideas

This image stabilizer can be used with any lens and camera. It works the in same way as the Hubble telescope keeps pointed to the same object during multi day exposures.

This stabilizer can be used succesfully with moderately long exposures and moderately long focal lengths.

Needed: 2 discarded harddisks (HDs)
Some old discarded computer, or parts
The part in the old computer which holds floppies en HDs at a 90 degree angle...
A woden box or plywood etc..
A hand grip
One or two strips of aluminum
A camera screw
3 or 4 car USB phone chargers
A 12 V power source (lead acid cell, a discarded NiCd cell, or (rechargeable) batteries)
Some rubber washers and a piece of inner tire
Contact glue

Your camera

Costs: something between E 0.00 and E 50.00 (my costs: E 15.-)

Time to build:a few days, including some shopping...

Tools: Simple hand tools, drill, soldering gear.

Update: look at my single Gyro stabilizer: www.instructables.com/id/Single-HD-Gyro-Image-stabilizer/

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Step 1: How It Works

Most hard disks spin at 5400, 7200 or 10.000 RPM. The rotating parts have a considerable mass, and are very well centered and balanced. Old HDs with storage space below ca. 10 Gb can be obtained very cheaply, or even for free.

The spinning HDs working as gyroscopes in the horizontal and vertical plane (X and Y) can almost completely prevent motion blur.

When a long exposure, or tele picture is taken by hand, motion blur occurs in a combination of horizontal and vertical (X and Y axis) shaking; not so much in the back and forth (Z axis) direction.

The spinning mass in the HDs steadies the camera.

Step 2: The Mechanism:

2 HDs are mounted at a 90 degree angle. The bolts to fasten are non-metric:

In Europe, the threads of these case screws are totally incompatible with anything, so the only way to fasten the HDs is to use the existing case screws from a discarded computer, which means they can only be mounted on a metal sheet or strip.

(Case screws. These screws are six-gauge wire with 32 threads per inch American National Coarse Thread (UNC) machine screws that are cut to accept a both a Phillips No. 2 screwdriver and a 1/4 inch hex driver and are 5/16 inch long.) Wikipedia.

Of course, the prime candidate for this is the disk holder in the discarded computer: It has all the screw holes already in the right place.
This way, 2 strips have to be cut from these parts, and have to be mounted squarely.

I was not able to find an old computer before the deadline (contest!), so I mounted both on a wide strip of aluminum, 2mm thick. This strip is mounted on the lower part of the enclosure.

The HDs: nothing inside is changed. I had some old 5400 RPM HDs laying around, although having a small memory size (2.1 and 4.3 Gb), they still work fine.

They still can be used as 'image tanks'; dual use. Put rubber spacers between HDs and the mount to get rid of any high frequency vibrations produced by the HDs.

Note: Taking these HDs into the field, the data they contain might not survive the rugged environment, or rough treatment. Shock damage might cause loss of data.

Step 3: The Enclosure

A poplar box of 30 x 30 cm was cut into the proper sizes to form the enclosure: although not water tight, it does protect the HDs against shorting and raindrops. Poplar and willow wood is ideal for prototyping: very soft, and almost no grain.

The pictures show how all parts are put together.

A 3 mm aluminum strip was bent at a square angle and put on the top part to hold the camera. It holds 3 holes, for different cameras. A slit might have weakened the strip to the point that vibrations from the HDs would have been amplified.

Step 4: Electronics:

HDs need voltages of 12 and 5 DC. In this design, only one power source, of 12 V is required. 3- 4 cheap USB phone chargers convert 12 V into 5V. According to specs in the wrapping, their output is 400 mA, so at least 3 are needed in parallel. Molex connectors from a discarded computer power supply take the power to the HDs. It seems the 12 V lead is used for rotation, while the 5V lead is used for the arm: movement, reading, writing. Both leads are need to make a HD spin.

If the stabilizer is only used occasionally, 9V + 2 x 1.5 V batteries can provide power. For continuous use, or for video, a more powerful solution is needed, like a small lead-acid cell. This cell can be mounted on a belt, with wiring to the device.

The stabilizer needs a switch to be turned on and off.

I tried to solder the new wires to the small circuit boards. However they appeared to be very heat sensitive: the copper conduits came apart from the board while desoldering!

A new charger was bought; this time soldering was done more carefully! The wired circuit boards were glued to a piece of wood, which was fitted in the top part.

The space kept for the electronics was almost too small: it required some fitting to get it all in.

Step 5: Results !!!

How much improvement is possible with this basic design?

All pictures made with a Canon SX110 IS, with maximum: 10x zoom (36 - 360 mm, if it was 35 mm format), mounted on the stabilizer of this instructable..

The exposure time is 1/15 sec: an impossible exposure time to take tele photo pictures by hand.

Pic 1 is made with NO image stabilization.

Pic 2 is made with its INTERNAL image stabilizer on , and external one OFF

Pic 3 is made with only the Gyroscopic image stabilizer (this instructable) ON, and the internal one off..

Pic 4 is made with both internal and external stabilizer on

All pics were made during the same conditions: early twilight, whole session less than 10 min.

It seems that my stabilizer outperforms the stabilizer inside the camera, and that when both stabilizers are on, results are even better!!!

Step 6: Possible Improvements

Removing the platters and putting a steel or brass disk instead. It would require removing the arm and modifying electronics.

Of course another high speed DC motor with heavy disk would work as well...

Oct 8th: A single gyro stabilizer is finished: look at the instructable: www.instructables.com/id/Single-HD-Gyro-Image-stabilizer/

On stronger motors: CD/DVD and HDD spindle motors are being hacked by the RC model plane community. With thicker wiring and replacing the ceramic magnet ring with Neodymium magnets they seem to reach up to a whopping 400 W output. Machining of a new rotor (bell) and controller ('esc') is required +a high output battery pack (LiPo), which would make a gyro project no longer low budget nor fast to assemble. It could provide another dramatic reduction in size and weight though. Link:www.flyelectric.ukgateway.net/machin.htm

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    56 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I was thinking that I would try this with a couple of SSD's as they are faster, lighter and use less power. Any ideas? {J}

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Could a computer power supply be used to provide the 12v and 5v? This could simplify the project.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    @jharwick, by a lightweight, simple system you mean like a portable
    gimbal, with battery included? I have heard this company
    http://www.darewarelabs.com is doing something like that, but for motorbikes.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I think the hard drives need to be jn a cross configuration and on gimbals like this guy did with little gyroscopes - looks doable, but your method will work too not as good as the drives have to move.


    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    One more think, when 4k or 8K finally comes alone we won't need these devices as we can shoot wider and just crop and add electronic stabilization :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I have spent the last three years developing a lightweight, simple system for taking panoramic photos. I would like add a small battery operated gyro that would fin inside a monopod. Anyone interested in colaborating on a design?

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 5

    This is a great idea. I can't wait to make this.


    7 years ago on Step 5

    Hells to the yes. I got a box of hardrives and it's friday night. I got all weekend. I bet you could make a killer video stabilizer with this. 5 stars.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    The only drawbacks I see are power consumption and weight, but this is an inspiration! I've been looking for a stabilization device for my mountianbike. I'll check into finding and stripping down some smaller drives and seeing if they'll run on smaller batteries & still be effective.

    4 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    If you want to find out if a hard drive, or another motor with rotating device would be suitable, turn it on and try to turn the axis of rotation by hand. You can easily feel the resistance against the change in position. The amount of resistance felt shows if the device is suitable for the project. To stabilize a bike would require a huge powerful motor, but I would not test ride it in heavy traffic. It would react very different from normal!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    "To stabilize a bike would require a huge powerful motor, but I would not test ride it in heavy traffic. It would react very different from normal!"

    You mean a funeral precession? Boom! Boom!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Actually the stabilization device was to stabilize my video camera' on my mountain bike.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Heres an idea ive done in the past ill make an ible about it soon. But a gyroscope. you know likt the retro toy. haha Then get a trypod sized screw and a belt motor and let it run pretty simple and easy


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Exceptional project!!! Super DIY for a very very expensive commercial device! Well done.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very good idea.
    You could of used a 1Amp 5v regulator save money and keep the size down.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     How do you get the drive to keep spinning at maximum speed?  I tried this a while back and my drives kept spinning up and down.  Couldn't get consistent performance from it. 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    So could this function in a video camera setting?  You imply that it may, has anyone taken any footage? Only drawback would possibly be the sound of the disks spinning.  Some sound isolation might be needed. 

    Also how much heat build up comes from the spinning disks? For still photography this might not be an issue but for video it potentially could.

    Really great instructable, Thanks!