For anyone shooting and editing video, sooner or later you realise a desire to have some more dynamic shots. Simply cutting from one static position to another can only take you so far.
Even with a good timelapse, it can add a great deal of visual interest to have the camera moving during the period.
So how to achieve these aims?
Enter the motorised camera slider. These can be purchased in varying shapes and sizes ranging from 100-600 pounds. The function is simply to slide a camera smoothly along under motor control such that you can adjust the speed of movement to your needs. The more expensive ones will also pan the camera. This is particularly useful if you want to make videos of yourself, or a specific subject that you want to keep somewhat centred in the frame whilst moving around.
Obviously this is not a site about buying an off the shelf device...
Saw - just to rouh cut scraps to size as necessary.
flat piece of wood for track - I used the side of an old shelf unit
Delrin (you could do the same with a dense wood)
2 stepper motors
2 motor drivers
2 rubber belts (often from vacuum cleaners)
1 lenth of string
This design is based loosely on some cnc axis designs I've seen. Except where in a cnc built timing belt is used to ensure very precise movement and torque, in this build I'm just using string because it doesn't matter a huge amount if things slip slightly. it also reduces the cost and need for special parts.
another good reason for this design is the flexibility over length. you can run the string as long or short as you want. All of the complexity is in the cartridge so once that is built you can change the track easily for differing lengths depending on your needs.
In my case I have kept the electronics separate, and so trail the motor wires back and forth with the movement. It would be equally possible to mount the electronics on the moving platform and provide power as the only cable, or even to mount batteries to power everything.
The main drive
The linear motion is provided by a motor shaft turning against the string under tension. The tension provides enough grip to move rather than just slip. To maximise the grip, the string is wrapped around as much of the shaft as possible which is achieved with a couple of v-wheels mounted beneath the motor to guide the string through a narrow path up and around the motor shaft.
The shaft of the motor itself is too small and slippery to work well, so I turned a small piece of delrin to fit over the shaft, and provide a v-groove for the string to sit in. this avoids alignment issues pulling the string off the shaft. To fix the delrin onto the shaft I drilled a small hole into the side and screwed in a 3mm bolt. The delrin is soft enough that it didn't require tapping first, it just carved its own threads and holds strong.