DIY camera dolly frees up your hands to take care of the important stuff


Documenting your build process can sometimes be an incredible pain, as it’s quite difficult to take pictures or video while you are in the middle of soldering. Professionals who demonstrate things on TV for a living have the benefit of a camera crew and special rigs to catch the action from every angle – the rest of us don’t have that luxury.

[Steve] felt the same frustrations as many of us do, and decided to do something about it. He built a movable camera dolly that can be suspended from the ceiling above his work surface for less than $30. The bulk of his camera dolly is built from PVC piping, with assorted bolts and washers holding things together. Skateboard bearings were used as rollers to provide smooth 2-axis motion for the entire rig, then he hung the entire apparatus from the ceiling joists over his workspace.

According to [Steve], the build process seems relatively easy and should take no more than an hour or so, and it can support pretty much any full-size DSLR camera you can find.

Stick around for a quick video tour of his camera dolly build.

[via Make]


  1. Nice, I definitely need something like this but dont have the space to permanently set one up.

  2. Mike Bradley says:

    I like it, I am thinking about using 1″ aluminum tube for the long stretches to eliminate sag.

  3. hackersmith says:

    Hmmm. Just needs a wireless camera shutter trigger and its complete.

  4. The more I look at this the more it makes me want to build one. I would love to build a new work table with this above it, or some version of this. I would want the XY action to be smooth, and bounce free. Most of the time it would just hang there, but if you are going to spend the time and money, it should be a little more solid. Just using larger diameter PVC would help a lot. Also I think I would like to add a remote monitor to see what was on the screen, and if it was in focus. That gets a little harder to do.

  5. hintss says:

    make it CNC

  6. Doug says:

    FIW;I tried to leave the following comment at Grathio Labs, but it kept telling me the the required name and email fields weren’t filled out when they indeed where.
    Nice project. An alternate way to use the tool handle compound if protecting the ball bearings is a concern is to use a mandrill with the same OD as the bearings to make “tires” that could be placed over the bearings. Perhaps RC model car components could be used instead?

  7. Steve Hoefer says:

    @doug: It’s a good idea, thanks for sharing it.

    (Sorry about the comments. MovableType went haywire about the time I posted this project and has been nightmare to figure out. And since I’m moving it over to WordPress within a week I’ve decided to let it be.)

  8. woutervddn says:

    This is a neat idea.. Although I think I’ll be mounting mine on an old movable desk light I’ve got laying around.. (It’s an ugly one that’s way to bulky to use as a normal desk light, but mounting it upside down and attaching a camera might make it usefull again)

  9. Quvmoh says:

    Adding a work light to this rig would make it useful even when not filming, nice!

  10. Headbonk says:

    What did he use to document the build of that?

  11. Hackfox says:

    The Geekgroup recently built a big boy version of this for their sets.

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