Designing A Quality Camera Slider Can Be Remarkably Satisfying

Camera sliders are great creative tools, letting you get smooth controlled shots that can class up any production. [Anthony Kouttron] decided to build one for an engineering class, and he ended up mighty satisfied with what he and his team accomplished.

As an engineering class project, this wasn’t a build done on a whim. Instead, [Anthony] and his fellow students spent plenty of time hashing out what they needed this thing to do, and how it should be built. An Arduino was selected as the brains of the operation, as a capable and accessible microcontroller platform. Stepper motors and a toothed belt drive were used to move the slider in a controllable fashion. The slider’s control interface was an HD44780-based character LCD, along with a thumbstick and two pushbuttons. The slider relied on steel tubes for a frame, which was heavy, but cost-effective and easy to fabricate. Much of the parts were salvaged from legendary e-waste bins on the university grounds.

The final product was stout and practical. It may not have been light, but the steel frame and strong stepper motor meant the slider could easily handle even heavy DSLR cameras. That’s something that lighter builds can struggle with.

Ultimately, it was an excellent learning experience for [Anthony] and his team. As a bonus, he got some great timelapses out of it, too. Video after the break.

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Gesture Controlled Filming Gear Works Super Intuitively

Shooting good video can be an arduous task if you’re working all by yourself. [Pave Workshop] developed a series of gesture-responsive tools to help out, with a focus on creating a simple intuitive interface.

The system is based around using a Kinect V2 to perceive gestures made by the user, which can then control various objects in the scene. For instance, a beckoning motion can instruct a camera slider to dolly forward or backwards, and a halting gesture will tell it to stop. Bringing the two hands together or apart in special gestures indicate that the camera should zoom in or out. Lights can also be controlled by pulling a fist towards or away from them to change their brightness.

The devil is in the details with a project that works this smoothly. [Pave Workshop] lays out the details on how everything Node.JS was used to knit together everything from the custom camera slider to Philips Hue bulbs and other Arduino components.

The project looks really impressive in the demo video on YouTube. We’ve seen some other impressive automated filming rigs before, too.

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A Hacky Automatic Camera Slider Using No Motors

Camera sliders are a great way to get smooth, continuous panning shots. You can buy off the shelf or build yourself a motorized model pretty easily these days. However, [Shivam Dehinwal] came up with a hack that’s even simpler again.

The design uses a 3D-printed base which mounts the camera on top. Four wheels are installed underneath to allow the base to roll on smooth surfaces.

Inside the base, there’s a slot to install a Komelon Touch Lock measuring tape, with the tape’s auto-retract mechanism used to create the sliding function. Pressing the center disc on the measuring tape brakes the tape retract mechanism. The harder you press, the more it slows down.

In the slider, this is achieved with a screw-in puck that contacts the tape measure’s brake. Tighten the puck down, and the tape measure retracts very slowly, moving the slider at a crawl. Leave the puck loose, and the tape measure retracts more quickly for faster panning shots.

It’s a neat way to build a camera slider, of which we’ve seen many before in the past. It never needs batteries and adjustment is as easy as turning a screw. Sometimes the simple ways have their charms. Video after the break.

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ESP32 Camera Slider Build Keeps Things In Perspective

We’ve seen a lot of camera slider builds here at Hackaday, and for good reason: having one really lets you take your project documentation, especially videos, to the next level. It’s one of those force multiplier builds — after you’ve completed it, it can help you make all your future projects just that much better. But we’re also no strangers to seeing these projects become overly complex, which can often make it difficult for others to replicate.

But that’s not the case here. The motorized camera slider that [Sasa Karanovic] recently sent our way does exactly what you’d expect, and little else. That’s not meant as a dig — sometimes the best approach is to keep it simple. Unless you’re a professional photographer or videographer, it’s unlikely you need a complicated motion rig. This design is perfect for the hacker or maker who wants to spruce up their project videos, but doesn’t want to spend months fiddling with the design. Continue reading “ESP32 Camera Slider Build Keeps Things In Perspective”

A camera slider made from wood and recycled parts

Turning Old Plotter Parts Into A Smooth Camera Slider

Taking apart old stuff and re-using the parts to make something new is how many hackers first got started in the world of mechanical and electronic engineering. But even after years working in industry we still get that tinge of excitement whenever someone offers us an old device “for parts”, and immediately begin to imagine the things we could build with the components inside.

A GoPro mounted on a moving platform made from recycled partsSo when [Victor Frost] was offered an old Cricut cutting plotter, he realized he could use its parts to create the camera slider he’d been planning to build. The plotter’s X stage, controlled by a stepper motor, was ideal for moving a camera platform back and forth. [Victor] wanted to build the entire thing in a “freehand” way, without making a detailed design or purchasing any new parts. So he dived into his parts bin and dug up an Arduino, a 16×2 LCD, some wires and buttons, and a few pieces of MDF.

The camera mount is simply a piece of steel that a GoPro’s magnetic mount can latch onto, but [Victor] keeps open the possibility of mounting a proper tripod ball head. The Arduino drives the stepper motor through an Adafruit Motor Shield, with a simple user interface running on the LCD. The user can set the desired end points and speed, and then run the camera back and forth as often as needed. In this way, the software follows the same “keep it simple” philosophy as the hardware design.

If you’re planning to build your own camera slider, [Victor]’s design should be easy to copy, if you happen to have an old cutting plotter. If not, you can try this simple yet well-engineered model. Want even more? Then check out this fancy multi-axis camera motion control rig.

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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.

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Motorized Camera Slider Gives Your Shots Style

We’ve all seen those smooth panning shots, which combined with some public domain beats, are a hallmark of the modern YouTube tech video. Recreating that style in your own productions is as easy as pointing your browser to Amazon and picking up a motorized camera slider, so long as you don’t mind parting with a few hundred bucks, anyway. But [Paweł Spychalski] had a better idea. He decided to build his own camera slider and make it an open source project so others could spin up their own versions.

His design uses many components that have become popular and affordable thanks to the desktop 3D printer explosion, such as 2020 aluminum extrusion, LM8UU linear bearings, an 8 mm lead screw, and a NEMA 17 stepper motor. In fact, if you’ve got a broken 3D printer that you don’t know what to do with, stripping it for parts would get you a long way towards completing the BOM for this project.

To control the slider, [Paweł] is using an ESP32 and TMC2209 “StepStick” driver connected to an OLED display and a few buttons. As designed, a smartphone connected to a simple web page hosted by the ESP32 is the primary method of controlling the camera, but the buttons and display on the slider itself gives you a physical backup should you need it.

If you need something a bit more advanced than a linear slider, we’ve seen some impressive DIY motion rigs that can spin the camera around the target and produce some very professional looking shots.

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