Versatile Motion Dolly For Time Lapse Photography


This beautiful build is a motion dolly for making time-lapse videos. It is at a point where you could consider it complete. After all, the segments featured in the video after the break look marvelous. But [Scottpotamas] has a few additions planned and it sounds like it won’t belong before he accomplishes his goals.

The build is a linear rail on which the camera rides. In the image above you can see the stepper motor which moves the camera mounted at the far end of the rig. This is controlled by an Arduino. Currently the camera is responsible for timing the capture of the images, but [Scottpotamas] says the firmware is nearly ready to hand this responsiblity over to the Arduino. The system is modular, with a simple setting for the length of the track. This way he can swap out for a longer or shorter rail which only takes about five minutes. He also included support for a panning mount for the camera. It allows the control box can be programmed to keep the subject centered in the frame as the camera slides along the track.

[via Reddit]

19 thoughts on “Versatile Motion Dolly For Time Lapse Photography

  1. I work for a production company and have been wanting to do something like this for a while, now. In the last few weeks I have decided to add this to my TODO list for this year. Thanks for the inspiration, I hope mine turns out equally nice.

  2. So the four images and the video is all we know about this project?
    Great -.-

    Just thought i’d be able to use the – sadly non-existant – writeup, since i am planning to build something like this, but for video recording with direct user control.

    1. Yeah and the description of the youtube mentioning it’s a NEMA 25 motor and an arduino.
      But I also think this isn’t HaD worthy without some more detailed info.

      But there are many similar projects that Do have info though.

      1. I think i will just do it completely from scratch all by myself.
        How hard can it be to connect some steppers to some stepper drivers which are interfaced to – let’s say – a stellaris launchpad with some xbee magic to another launchpad with some analog joysticks? I think xbee is the hardest part in here :D

        1. You’re right, it isn’t ‘that’ hard. The trickiest part was actually figuring out the mechanical side of things, namely finding the right pulley and belts. Programming shoot move shoot also had it’s challenges.

          I didn’t really intend for my post to go further than a ‘look at my little thing’, so there isn’t a write up yet, but I will make one by next week.

          1. Not really blaming you, it’s not like you work for HaD or us :)

            Also: I’ve seen worse, much worse, single page, zero description and one photo kind of stuff

    2. I didn’t really expect for my little post to end up here. I will be doing a write up in a week or so, with build instructions etc.

      Just quickly, total cost came to just under 400, but would be cheaper if parts didn’t need to be shipped (USA to Australia is costly for the rail) etc. Arduino Pro Mini 5V, optoisolator, Big Easy Stepper Driver, serial LCD, rotary encoder, NEMA 23 stepper on a 1m IGUS Dryline rail.

      Supports continuous timed slides, shoot move shoot, fast move manual for video and control from computer application. Fully automatic and I just set and forget it.

      1. Ah, good old IGUS. Did you order the rail and the slider as a pre-assembled package or did you order it in parts? What did you pay for it without shipping?

        I’ve got some samples from IGUS and they have really neat stuff, especially the linear guidance rails in many different varieties. Though i can’t really decide between circular rails like yours or the flat ones (these in bigger: or even these for more stability:

        1. I got the rail and slider in the same package from the supplier, 150-160 w/o shipping (Amazon? was cheapest when shipping was included, RS Australia was wanting >400 for the same rail alone…). Im actually on holiday at the moment, but I can get you the part number and exact costs when I get back home in a few days if you want.

          It also relies on the mounting plates on either side of the rail to mount the stepper to. I just used my Uni’s mill to make the cuts and holes in 6mm mild steel for the stepper plate and to drill into the rail.

  3. Isn’t the first time i see this rig here in HaD. Automated rig is the first part of the problem. the other part is programming the camera to deal with the exposure, light, “bracketing”, etc. because light and image parameters change too much over long periods of time

    1. All printable? Sounds great.

      I’ve been working on a writeup for the last few days (it will be on my website). The driver is just a Big Easy Driver from Sparkfun. The code for the actual moves is quite simple. If you can wait a few days it should be up.

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