Friday Fun: DSLR Camera Slider (Part 1)

Introduction

It's Friday and we're designing a DSLR camera slider that does your breathtaking prototypes, amazing mockups and beautiful products justice! Like Da Vinci once said:

"... If you don't have cool footage of it, it's not a cool project" - Leonardo Da Vinci

This is the first part of our Camera Slider series, where we iteratively design a linear slider from the ground up using stepper motors, laser-cutting, 3D printing and other cool stuff!

Our vision is to mount the slider rail on a centralised platform that can rotate the entire linear rail 360 degrees. On top of that, our goal is to make the camera mount rotatable as well, ensuring some buttery smooth movement in X,Y space.

Setup

Throughout the series, we iterate on the prototype and build new prototypes based on our prior experiences. This Friday we've made a simple proof of concept using an extended version of the Y-axis from our Prusa i3 3D printer. This is primarily to test the concept and the smoothness of the motion using a relatively simple setup that we already have the components for. There are certainly drawbacks with this mechanical construction, such as slight instability and flex in the middle of the rail. However, it serves well as a test of the concept and has given us some inspiration to improve the construction further in the coming weeks. If you're interested in making this setup yourself, simply build the Y-axis of a Prusa i3 3D-printer using longer threaded and smooth rods than normal in the Y direction. We used rods of approximately one meter. Furthermore, a stepper motor attached to a linear belt was controlled using a Polulu Stepper Driver Board and an Arduino to make the smooth linear movement.

In the coming weeks we'll look into rebuilding the the mechanical construction to become more stable and introduce motorized rotational motion as well as tilt movement. Furthermore, we are going to experiment with various easing functions and try out the slider in real life for product videos as well as outdoor hyper-lapses! We'll make sure to write a step-by-step guide once the prototype has been through more iterations and we have decided on a final design.

This concludes part 1, stay tuned for more!

Testing the first iteration of our camera slider with a Canon 600D