Camera slide

Camera slide to use in time-lapse videos

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Time-lapse videos that have cameras mounted to a moving linear slide has always impressed me. This is an overview of what I cobbled together to get that effect.

The bulk of the slide was made for the 3D printer build I had started, but failed to follow through.  It was a quick fix to a want of creating a camera slide and seeing what could be done with it.  That build information can be found at:

X Axis Part 1

X Axis Part 2

To change it over to be an isolated axis, an UNO was used to step the motor at the desired speeds.

Code can be found at github: baden0001/Camera_Slide

The program is setup to read two analog inputs controlled by pots and each individually control two motors.  Currently only the single linear axis is connected.  The second axis is intended to be a rotating axis and to be mounted onto the moving carriage.

The analog value of the pot is broken up into 5 ranges that are displayed by the 3 LED's per analog input.  All off is the slowest setting, only the first light on is the next, then only the second, then only the third and finally all of them on is the fastest setting.  

There is no homing sequence, so prior to power up, I make sure the carriage is all the way to the controller box.  The carriage then cycles back and forth indefinitely.

A housing was designed with Fusion 360 and then 3D printed to stuff the UNO, a shield with two motor drivers and all the wiring and controls.

The power supply was sourced from something that I had scrapped in the past.  Could have been a laptop or printer, but I don't recall.  It was convenient in that it has a 5V supply (for the UNO) along with a 12V supply (for the motors).

Adding a plate with a 1/4-20 tapped hole on the bottom of the axis allows for it to be mounted to a tripod.

So far the slide works good for time-lapse videos.  

  • 1 × UNO
  • 2 × DRV8825 Stepper Driver or similar
  • 6 × 470 ohm resistor Current limiting for LED's
  • 6 × LED Fiber Optics / Emitters
  • 2 × 100 uF capacitor To be used with the stepper drivers

View all 7 components

  • Another Sample

    willbaden04/19/2020 at 13:04 0 comments

    Below is a portion of a video that I used the camera slide:

    It would be really nice to have a quick way to adjust the rotation amount over the length of the linear axis.  Preferably one that could be adjusted through a phone that is readily available.  

    Along with this, adding a homing cycle.  Right now, on power up it assumes both axis are at the home locations.  Which can be difficult to get a good start and stop location with the rotational axis.  It can be ran through its paces verifying the shot is what I want, but then I have to restart it from the beginning and most likely lose what I had attempted to setup for.

  • Rotating Axis 2

    willbaden03/01/2020 at 22:10 0 comments

    Slowly pecking away at this, I was able to get some tests and video created.  

    First, some more build information.  The screws were added to more securely attach the gear to the camera mount adapter.  There are 3 evenly spaced around the turning axis.  It was a little snug but the height was enough for the screws to clear:

    Wire management was a seat of my pants design.  With a machining background, I have to think differently with the 3D printer.  With that, I am more willing to try and fail at printing as it is only a small amount of design time.  Sure the printing takes a while, but I don't have to dedicate time working in the shop to machine a part.

    That said, I decided to print some cable management.  There are 3 wire clips (is that the name?) that just slid over the edge of the aluminum angle:

    They are fairly loose, but use will tell if something else will be needed.  The odd wiring management device I conceived next was based on having access to two holes that I could mount something to.  Not wanting to print it on end, this is what was come up with:

    So far so good. . . 

    The program for the slide was updated multiple times and is available on the github page listed under details on the main page.  Not being my native mindset (programming), if you want to chip in and help me with the program, feel free to reach out to me.

    As for the current state of the project, a short video is below.  I first tried 90 degree rotation and then 45 degree rotation over the linear axis travel.  I like the effect of the latter and will plan on using that for some videos in the future.  If anything, I might change it to a lower angle for objects further away:

    Future wants:

    1. Synchronize both axis better.  The program takes the time between steps of the linear axis and then calculates the time between steps for the rotary axis.  This looks to lead to error of synching.  Looking for ideas.

    2. Create some sort of user interface.  Could be using the LED's, adding buttons or adding an app over bluetooth.  Also looking for ideas.  Keeping in mind that, if I am using this device, I want if to be changed quickly and easily.

    All and all the effect is there and I am liking where this is going.  Hopefully more to come.

  • Rotating Axis 1

    willbaden02/24/2020 at 01:55 0 comments

    The rotating axis for the camera is in progress.  The junk pile was full of steppers, but only had one decent reducer.  The gears meshing has a little backlash in it, but I am curious to see if it will work for the end effect of the video.  It also has a little play axially, but a spring tensioner should help mitigate some of that.  Using Fusion, the design that I came up with is below:

    The risers were 3D printed and then drilled/tapped for 8-32 screws.

    Checking clearances with the risers mounted:

    Seeing no real issues, I moved forward with machining off the gear retainer that looks to be press fit into the shaft:

    With the cap machined off, the gear could be removed and the shaft indicated in to drill/tap an 8-32 hole:

    A screw in the freshly tapped hole:

    The camera mount will be mounted to the adapter that is super glued to the top of the gear. . . But first the adapter needs holes located, drilled and tapped for 4-40 FHCS:

    Camera mount attached to adapter:

    The camera mount was removed to finish out the spring tensioner on the gear.  This tensioner is meant to keep the gear pushed down at all times and remove some play that I was concerned about:

    A washer was 3D printed to retain the spring:

    With the screw and spring removed, the adapter was super glued to the top of the gear:

    Before mounting the camera to the adapter, I plan on drilling and tapping 4-40 holes that will help attach the gear to the adapter.  

    Next up is to get wiring ran to the stepper motor and update the code to allow for a single pot control both axis for the time being.

  • Camera Video on Slide

    willbaden02/02/2020 at 14:47 0 comments

    Here is a video with the camera mounted to the slide.  This was set to the fastest speed.

    The upper part of the tripod was at its lowest height.  

  • Slide Functioning

    willbaden02/01/2020 at 02:49 0 comments

    Here is a short clip of the slide moving back and forth.  Towards the end of the video, I adjust the pot through the different stages and the carriage changes speed to match them.

View all 5 project logs

Enjoy this project?



willbaden wrote 02/04/2020 at 01:17 point

The slide is too noisy to leave it raw with raw audio.  Since I wanted it for a time lapse, this works for me.  I was worried about the video as well, but I am satisfied with the outcome so far.  Here are a couple of start locations of a video that the slide was time lapsed:

And when I say time lapsed, I mean it was shot a normal frame rate and then I used blender to speed it up.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 02/03/2020 at 16:18 point

Will the vibration cause any problems with video or sound when using this? Any idea where it's coming from?

I like the way you reused the 3D-printer slide, BTW. Nice job.

  Are you sure? yes | no

willbaden wrote 02/04/2020 at 01:25 point

Look at the above comment. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

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