DIYing A High End Camera Arm

One of the first purchases for anyone looking to shoot video should be a tripod. Key to getting clean and stable shots, they can nevertheless be limiting in their range of motion. Wanting something a little more high-end, but dissatisfied with the high cost of commercial options, [Alexandre Chappel] decided to build his own camera arm.

The build is based around square alumiunium tubing, with the high-tolerance material acting as the arm’s vertical and horizontal rails. 3D printed brackets and adapters are used to bolt everything together, along with several printed components used as drilling guides to help accurately machine the aluminium tubes. Adjustment is built into the carriages that travel along the rails, to help account for any slop in the 3D printed parts. A counterweight system is then installed to ensure the camera doesn’t hit the floor when not in the locked position.

It’s a tidy build, and one that has given [Alexandre] far more flexibility to shoot than his existing tripods. Additionally, adjusting the camera position is much quicker than before. Of course, when you’re building your own rigs, the sky is the limit. Video after the break.

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Giant Bearing Is At The Heart Of A Camera Mount

We bet you have all some cool part in your bin that is just gnawing at you to build something cool. That doodad, possibly from a garage sale, surplus store, or clearance rack deserves a project fitting of its near-infinite potential. [isaac879] finally marries a giant ball bearing with his passion for photography in the form of a pan-tilt camera mount for his Canon DSLR. The problem with tossing your golden-ticket part into a project is that not everyone has a MacGuffin, or a brand new one might be bank-breakingly expensive, so he does us a favor and makes a drop-in replacement that you can print and fill with 6mm brass bbs. This sort of thing is why we love hackers.

The camera mount has the features we expect to see in a robust stepper mount, such as infinite spinning, time delay, and an Xbox controller interface. Inside the base is the industrial bearing or its plastic replica, and that wide base won’t be tipping over anytime soon. Gearing all around is of the herringbone style, of the type you find in classroom pencil sharpeners because they transfer power smoothly. Speaking of things going smoothly, we enjoyed his assembly montage where every part fits together perfectly and there is not a naughty word to be uttered. Just like real life.

If you like homemade bearings, check out this slew bearing that looks like it was made with Perler beads, and we have a self-aligning camera tripod mount for the photography buffs.

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A Modular Mounting System Via 3D Printing

When working with cameras or other tools, it can often be useful to have some manner of stand or tripod to hold things in position, freeing up one’s hands for other tasks. Unfortunately, when it comes to smaller cameras and devices like smartphones and tablets, there are few standardized solutions. [yyh1002] has skirted the problem by creating a customizable modular mounting system, and it’s taken the 3D-printing world by storm.

The system was inspired by GoPro mounts, which are a system of plastic arms and screws that can effectively position the small devices in all manner of orientations. [yyh1002]’s system is GoPro-compatible, using the same fasteners and similar geometry, and tons of other modelers have added on.

The parts are 3D printed and consist of a series of arms, clamps and joints that can be configured to suit the task at hand. Source files are available, which allows custom version to be made. This is useful for modifying parts like phone holders to suit different models, to avoid fouling buttons or interfering with camera placement. Thus far, the community has contributed parts as diverse as G-clamps, camera mounts, and parts to mate to Playstation controllers. (Editor’s note: I’m actually printing out a Pi Zero case from this series as I edit this post. Coincidence!)

It’s a useful system, and we look forward to seeing more parts uploaded in future. Meanwhile, don’t forget – it’s remarkably easy to tripod mount just about anything.

A 3D Printed Kinematic Camera Mount

[Enginoor] is on a quest. He wants to get into the world of 3D printing, but isn’t content to run off little toys and trinkets. If he’s going to print something, he wants it to be something practical and ideally be something he couldn’t have made quickly and easily with more traditional methods. Accordingly, he’s come out the gate with a fairly strong showing: a magnetic Maxwell kinematic coupling camera mount.

If you only recognized some of those terms, don’t feel bad. Named for its creator James Clerk Maxwell who came up with the design in 1871, the Maxwell kinematic coupling is self-orienting connection that lends itself to applications that need a positive connection while still being quick and easy to remove. Certainly that sounds like a good way to stick a camera on a tripod to us.

But the Maxwell design, which consists of three groves and matching hemispheres, is only half of the equation. It allows [enginoor] to accurately and repeatably line the camera up, but it doesn’t have any holding power of its own. That’s where the magnets come in. By designing pockets into both parts, he was able to install strong magnets in the mating faces. This gives the mount a satisfying “snap” when attaching that he trusts it enough to hold his Canon EOS 70D and lens.

[enginoor] says he could have made the holes a bit tighter for the magnets (thereby skipping the glue he’s using currently), but otherwise his first 3D printed design was a complete success. He sent this one off to Shapeways to be printed, but in the future he’s considering taking the reins himself if he can keep coming up with ideas worth committing to plastic.

Of course we’ve seen plenty of magnetic camera mounts in the past, but we really like the self-aligning aspect of this design. It definitely seems to fit the criterion for something that would otherwise have been difficult to fabricate if not for 3D printing.

Tricked-Out Tablet Becomes Workbench Tool

The workbench of the typical electronics hobbyist today would probably be largely recognizable by Heathkit builders back in the 60s and 70s. But where the techs and tinkerers of yesteryear would have had a real dead-tree SAMS Photofact schematic spread out on the bench, today you’ll get more use out of a flat-screen display for data sheets and schematics, and this handy shop Frankentablet might be just the thing to build.

Tablets like the older Nexus 9 that [enginoor] used as the basis for this build have a little bit of a form-factor problem because unlike a laptop, a tablet isn’t very good at standing up on its own. To fix that, they found a suitable silicone skin for the Nexus, and with some silicone adhesive began bedazzling the back of the tablet. A bendy tripod intended for phones was added, and with the tablet able to stand on its own they maximized the USB port with a right angle adapter and a hub. Now the tablet has a USB drive, a mouse, and a keyboard, ready for perusing data sheets online. And hackers of a certain age will appreciate the eyeball-enhancing potential of the attached USB microscope.

[enginoor]’s bench tablet is great, but we’ve seen full-fledged bench PCs before too. Take your pick — wall mounted and floating, or built right into the workbench.

Thanks to [ccvi] for the tip.

Another Helping Hands Build

[Punamenon2] wanted a soldering station with integrated helping hands. He couldn’t find one, but he decided it would be a good 3D printed project. In all fairness, this is really 3D printing integrating several off-the-shelf components including a magnifier, a soldering iron holder, a soldering iron cleaner, a couple of “octopus” tripods, and some alligator clips. Total cost? Less than $30.

In addition to holding the Frankenstein monster together, the 3D printed structure also provides a storage tray with special sloped edges to make removing small screws easier.

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A Compact Star Tracking Tripod

The next giant leap for mankind is to the stars. While we are mostly earthbound — for now — that shouldn’t stop us from gazing upwards to marvel at the night sky. In saying that, if you’re an amateur astrophotographer looking to take long-exposure photos of the Milky Way and other stellar scenes, [Anthony Urbano] has devised a portable tracking setup to keep your photos on point.

When taking pictures of the night sky, the earth’s rotation will cause light trails during long exposures. Designed for ultra-portability, [Urbano’s] rig uses an Arduino UNO controlled Sanryusha P43G geared stepper motor coupled to a camera mounting plate on a small tripod. The setup isn’t designed for anything larger than a DSLR, but is still capable of taking some stellar pictures.

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