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DIY Camera Slider

Camera slider is a great tool that in the hands of a great video maker allows them to create amazing time-lapse videos, move the camera to follow the subject or move the camera around to highlight a fixed subject. Unfortunately, I am not a great video maker. However I am a maker and making my own camera slider sounds like a ton of fun! That is why I decided to make my own WiFi enabled camera slider. Using the 2020 Aluminium extrusion and few off-the-shelf components allows the camera slider to be as long or as short as we need it, while being very sturdy and also lightweight for carrying around or mounting on a tripod. We can then use built in WiFi connectivity to control and program the camera slider to have a very precise and repeatable camera movements.

Camera slider should allow you to move or slide the camera in one or more axis. The one we built in this video allows you to slide the camera along the sliding rail and also rotate the camera around it’s center or Z axis.

I have tried to use as many of the off-the-shelf components as possible to allow everyone to recreate this project at home. There are few 3D printed parts that you can print yourself, have someone print them for you or make them from another material (ie. on a CNC or a laser cutter).

As always, the entire project is open-source and open-hardware, which means you can either recreate the project or use it as a starting point for your custom-awesome camera slider.

As always, all the source files, build steps and build instructions are available here in the GitHub repository and also there is a video explaining how it works.

Let me know your thoughts and feel free to post pictures of what you have built.

18 Comments

  1. Giuseppe
    Giuseppe 10. July 2022.

    Beautiful project and thanks for sharing it all.
    Not being very experienced, can I use the A4988 drivers instead of the TMC2209?
    From what I understand they are pin to pin compatible, the only difference is that the TMC2209 has StallGuard which allows for sensorless homing capability,
    but I know if you use it in your project.
    Looking at the wiring diagram I saw that you indicated the DRV8825 motor driver, not the TMC2209 motor driver as indicated in the video, did you perhaps modify the circuit?
    One question, what size is the printed circuit board?
    Thanks again

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 11. July 2022.

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!
      Good catch! 🙂
      I ended up building multiple versions, initially wanted to use TMC2209 because they are silent compared to A4988, but later on used DRV8825. They (modules) are all pin-to-pin compatible so you should be able to switch between them. Just modify the source code to reflect correct number of steps per mm/rotation and you should be fine.
      The PCB size is 100x40mm. But it’s an open-source open-hardware design so you should be able to modify it any way you like.
      Let me know how it turns out if you end up building one!

  2. karl
    karl 22. July 2022.

    hi the 280mm closed loop belt is the wrong size its too big.. was that a typo? if so what is correct size? otherwise great project thanks

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 23. July 2022.

      Hi Karl! So sorry about that, 280mm was the correct value for the old camera slider that uses 2040 aluminium extrusion.
      Correct length should be 200mm. Thanks for catching this, I’ll update the BoM!

  3. Giuseppe
    Giuseppe 4. August 2022.

    Hello,
    I uploaded your gerber file on JLCPCB for the realization of the printouts, but they reported me that there are the output pads in short with the ground plane.
    Did I do something wrong in uploading the file?
    Unfortunately, I have no way of verifying, also because I don’t know what software you used to make the circuit.
    Can you please check?
    If you want, I will send you what was reported by JLCPCB

    Thancks

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 9. August 2022.

      Hi Giuseppe,

      You are right! Thanks for bringing this up. Please download the latest gerber release from the GitHub repository.
      Let me know if this helps.

      Best,
      Saša

      • Giuseppe
        Giuseppe 10. August 2022.

        caricata la nuova versione, sono in attesa che arrivino i circuiti stampati.
        Grazie.

        • Giuseppe
          Giuseppe 10. August 2022.

          Sorry, I answered you in Italian,
          loaded the new version, I am waiting for the printed circuits to arrive.
          Thank you.

          • Sasa Karanovic
            Sasa Karanovic 11. August 2022.

            Great! Let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  4. qidaxia
    qidaxia 17. August 2022.

    how about add a button to control the equipment?

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 18. August 2022.

      Great suggestion!
      I wanted to control the slider entirely over WiFi, so no physical buttons.

  5. Albert
    Albert 30. September 2022.

    Is the esp32 also powered from a dc-dc out? If I’m not mistaken then out should be 12v and esp32 should be 5v. am I missing something here? Thanks!

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 30. September 2022.

      Great question! In the first version I had two DC-DC converters to create +12V and +5V rails. But then I realized that mine ESP32 dev module has a LDO that can safely take 12V VIN and convert it down to 3.3V. It will generate a little bit more heat but otherwise, it works great.
      Also later on I tuned the DC-DC converter to output ~8V instead of 12V. At this point motors still have plenty of torque for my application but compared to 12V, they are silent. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

  6. Trevor
    Trevor 12. November 2022.

    Great work! super clean and easy to use. what about adding a time-lapse feature where it can pause and take a picture every few seconds through out its move? that would make this the ultimate slider.

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 16. November 2022.

      Thank you! I’m glad you like it!
      I thought about it, and even the first revision had infra-red LEDs on the PCB so that it can trigger a camera shutter. But most cameras/phones are fairly rich with features like this, so you can program them to do this on their own.
      Also the camera slider has an API so that it can easily be extended/used via a phone app or some other piece of automation.

      But most importantly, this is open-source open-hardware project, so everyone can see how it works and make changes to fit their use case (and hopefully make a PR so that everyone can benefit from it). 🙂

  7. Scott Lapin
    Scott Lapin 16. November 2022.

    On your BOM, you do not list a part number or rating for R3 and R5. Could you please update so I can order the correct item?

    Thanks

    • Sasa Karanovic
      Sasa Karanovic 16. November 2022.

      Hi Scott. If you look at the schematic they are listed as “DNP” meaning do-not-populate (or do not procure, do not purchase etc).
      Those are placeholders if for whatever reason you ever want to have a pull-down instead of pull-up.

      • Scott Lapin
        Scott Lapin 23. November 2022.

        Got…. thanks so much for the follow up.

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