Super Simple Camera Slider With A Neat Twist

When you get into making videos of products or your own cool hacks, at some point you’re going to start wondering how those neat panning and rotating shots are achieved. The answer is quite often some kind of mechanical slider which sends the camera along a predefined path. Buying one can be an expensive outlay, so many people opt to build one. [Rahel zahir Ali] was no different, and designed and built a very simple slide, but with a neat twist.

This design uses a geared DC motor, taken from a car windscreen wiper. That’s a cost effective way to get your hands on a nice high-torque motor with an integral reduction gearbox. The added twist is that the camera mount is pivoted and slides on a third, central smooth rod. The ends of this guide rod can be offset at either end, allowing the camera to rotate up to thirty degrees as the slide progresses from one end to the other. With a few tweaks, the slider can be vertically mounted, to give those up-and-over shots. Super simple, low tech and not an Arduino in sight.

The CAD modelling was done with Fusion 360, with all the models downloadable with source, in case someone needs to adapt the design further. We were just expecting a pile of STLs, so seeing the full source was a nice surprise, given how many open source projects like this (especially on Thingiverse) do often seem to neglect this.

Electronics consist of a simple DC motor controller (although [Rahel] doesn’t mention a specific product, it should not be hard to source) which deals with the speed control, and a DPDT latching rocker switch handles the motor direction. A pair of microswitches are used to stop the motor at the end of its travel. Other than a 3D printer, there is nothing at all special needed to make yourself quite a useful little slider!

We’ve seen a few slider designs, since this is a common problem for content creators. Here’s a more complicated one, and another one.

5 thoughts on “Super Simple Camera Slider With A Neat Twist

  1. Really like it, a sound design that looks like it would scale up well and I like it being pure mechanical – computerized everything is silly, it really can’t give much gain for something like this and adds so many more points of failure.

    Though I think I would build the bulk of it from Aluminium so changing the geometry to be easier to make from water jet cut or machine a little – much as I like 3d prints that looks like its PLA, which means hot car and its going to warp, and the 3d prints are bulky for the same structure – which if you want to take it places could be problematic.

  2. > a simple DC motor controller (although [Rahel] doesn’t mention a specific product, it should not be hard to source)
    Even gives the measurements of its mounting. Not providing the specific part, or even the era of the part, seems to be rather a big hole in provided information.

    Says he’s using a windshield wiper motor as it has lots of torque for “big heavy camera”. We don’t get to see if the slider parts can handle the weight of a “big heavy camera” without flexing on its intended path.

    1. Those sort of sliders are used on many things that throw much heavier weights with higher forces around than any DSLR, even with a rather stupendously heavy lens would on this rig (which wouldn’t fit that well with such a short track – the really heavy lens tend to be so magnifying that such a small movement wouldn’t be particularly noticeable). (Note I’d not be surprised if there is some detectable flex in the rods and prints with a really heavy camera, but it should work just fine, and if you really need to worry about that small deflection those rods come thicker…)

      The motor on the other hand who knows – it should be fine as wiper motors from almost any vehicle have to be able to out torque a large wind catcher, that has huge leverage against the motor while traveling at high speeds – way more force than this will need to move with all those slide bearings, but if you really want a faster translation with a heavy camera maybe its not got what it takes.

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