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Building a motorised camera slider mount for 3-axis timelapses

By @Saravana |

Timelapses help condense minutes, hours, even days into mere seconds and in doing so capture the living essence of a place/moment like no photo ever could. And when you add motion to the timelapses the results can be quite spectacular.

So there began my search for the perfect timelapse system which offers motion in all the 3 planes (pan, tilt and linear motion). The TB3 timelapse robot from eMotimo fit that bill perfectly. It had built-in motors for pan and tilt movements and had a controller for a 3'rd motor for linear motion. All i needed to do was to buy a stepper motor (bipoloar for both forward and reverse movements) and connect it to the AUX port in the TB3.

Finding the stepper motor was easy enough. A site from china www.omc-stepperonline.com sells all types of stepper motors and has fast & cheap worldwide shipping through FedEx. I bought a 27:1 geared stepper motor for timelapses and a 5:1 gear stepper motor for live action videos. The total for both the motors including shipping came to about 85$. 

The next challenge was to find a way to create a timing belt assembly (driven by the motor) and attach it to my camera slider. The assembly has to be strong and secure enough to pull about 3.5kgs of camera gear vertically while at the same time be flexible enough for me to swap motors easily in the field.

Luckily for me, i came across the Servocity store which sells a wide variety of parts for assembling robots. Those same parts also enabled me to design a motorized sliding mechanism for my camera slider. These are the parts i intend to use.

  •  Aluminum Clamping Motor Mount : For me this is the most important part (not easily found elsewhere) which allows me to securly mount the stepper motor on to a base plate.

  • Timing belt and pulley : Servocity offers Timing belts in custom sizes (by the foot) and compatible pulleys for the same.

    Mounting Plate : Among all the aluminium base plates offered by servocity, this one seems to be of the right size for me to mount the motor as well as the camera. The fit might be a bit tight but i'll have my fingers crossed that it would work.

    Dual side mount : This is another important part which will be mounted to the base of the mounting plate and can host a couple of rollers to tension the timing belt and run it around the pulley.

?These parts will allow me to create a basic motorized assembly. To make a quick release motor mount I will be making a few addition tweaks to the design using parts available on servocity.

Basically i want to fix the pulley in place on to a L-plate and attached it to a coupler on the other side. The motor can then be quickly attached or detached from the coupler by just tightening or looseing a couple of screws. It all sounds feasible on paper, i'll have to get the parts over to India to figure out if it will all work together when assembled,

The one downside of servocity is its high shipping costs. Their minimum shipping cost to India is about 48$, so even if order a single screw on the site for about 10cents I still would have to pay 48$ for getting the item to India. I hope they address this issue and be more flexible with their shipping prices. 

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