Monday, November 12, 2018

3D Printed Motorized Camera Slider Project Nearly Completed!

Like most projects that are started and finished here at the workshop delays, changes, new ideas and what have you seem to creep into the original design. Not that this is all bad but when I start a project I always seem to want it to be finished faster than it actually takes. Sometimes this works out better than I hope for and other times worse.  

This has been the case with the 3D printed camera slider. But that is neither here nor there now that it is completed.  This has been an interesting project that has had many revisions in the design to improve it and make it easier to build and also use.  So I am happy now to show you the finished project and what it can do when shooting video.


Here is the motorized camera slider by itself without the tripod mount or video camera.  The camera slider is very light weight at only 2 pounds 6 ounces. The extruded aluminum rail is the key to the assembly which makes the slider very light weight and sleek looking.



In the upper photo you can see the enclosure for the electronics on the far right that make the slider move both left and right with a variable speed control.  All of this runs on one 9 volt battery.  In the bottom photo is the camera slider platform where a video camera or DSLR camera is mounted using a quick release mount. Under the platform are three rollers that are mounted in a "V" configuration and glide smoothly along the extruded aluminum rail by use of a small electric motor and attached drive belt.


Here's a good view of the control box for the camera slider. At the very top you can see the small battery powered motor that makes the slider move.  Next just below it is the double throw on/off/on switch to power up the slider and change directions either left or right.  Lastly at the base of the control box is a knob to control the speed at which the camera platform moves along the extruded aluminum rail.


At the opposite end of the camera slider is a simple guide wheel for the toothed belt that runs from the camera platform to the motor through the upper portion of the extruded aluminum rail around the guide wheel and then back to the camera platform. 
\

Here's a good shot of the camera slider tripod mount.  It took me a bit to get the center mount designed and 3D printed.  Ten and a half hours for the center piece alone. The tubing is 3/4 inch aluminum tubing and the end mounts as with the rest of the project have been 3D printed. The mount is very light weight so that is a plus with the project.


Here the camera slider is completely assembled with my video camera set up as well. At this point I still have to shoot some video to test out the assembly and the only issue I think I will have at this point is stability using a single center mount.  I will explain about this in a minute.  All the electronics that are inside of the control box on the right have been tested and everything works so far so that is a good sign. 


The center mount locks into the tripod nice and firm but I am still thinking about changing this to end up using either two tripods instead of one or having at least a stabilizing arm to support one of the far ends of the slider.  Mainly because of the weight of the control box on one side and the additional weight of the video camera or my DSLR camera I think I will have balance problems. The overall travel that the slider has is 28 inches.  This makes things a bit tricky with the camera weighing a couple of pounds and being moved to the far ends of the assembly.  Two tripods which I already  own will solve this issue in a quick hurry but would be a bit of a hassle to use when shooting. So I think a stabilizing arm will have to be incorporated into the design to solve all of this. 


The entire assembly looks very professional so that is a real plus with the camera slider. Total cost came to right around $60 which is a far cry from the cost of a professional camera slider that can run into the hundreds of dollars. I will take that any day.  

As I said earlier I have not had a chance shoot some video with this camera slider yet to show you what it does but I do have video that I shot some time back with another camera slider that I designed and built.  This will give you a good idea of how this equipment works and what the end result looks like.  Click the video below to check it out. 


I will be working on the stabilizer for the tripod mount over the next few days so stay tuned for that update.  As I said earlier about changes and delays in my projects? It's holding true to form on this project. This one has just a bit more fine tuning and then hopefully I can be completely happy with the end result.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.



Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dune Buggy Project Update

All kinds of things have been happening this week so I thought it best to get this post out before I loose track of what has been going on.  Progress has been made with acquiring the new dune buggy as I spoke with the owner yesterday and have exchanged addresses, phone numbers, etc. to seal the deal.  I will send off payment to the owner first thing tomorrow morning so that the process will proceed as planned. Then I will contact the shipping company and get the trucker lined up to pick up the new vehicle.  Hopefully it will be delivered in the next couple of weeks and I can get started dialing in the plans for the trunk enclosure.  

In my last post I had shown all of you what I had in mind for this enclosure or trunk and already this has been changed to eliminate some issues that have shown up.  This is how the first version looked that I posted last week. 


(Click on any image for a larger view)

The enclosure it self looks great in the images above but turned out to be unworkable once I laid it out in my CAD software.  The blisters behind the seats looks very cool but took up a lot of area on the rear deck that is needed for the trunk lid.  Simply put the trunk lid would end up being much smaller than I would like so the blisters had to go. 


 With the elimination of the blisters the rear trunk or deck looks a lot cleaner and will afford a much larger trunk lid that will open up between the roll bar supports that extend from the roll bar to the tail of the dune buggy.  The best guess I have for the size of the trunk lid would be roughly two foot by three foot in size.  Not overly large simply because the roll bar supports take up some of this area.  I will know more once I can measure the dune buggy itself to see what I can make work on this idea. 



To add a bit more detail to the design I thought a carbon fiber wrap would be a nice touch to add to the recessed areas of the deck. This would be a fairly simple task to accomplish and would be much cheaper than real carbon fiber inserts.



Here's a closer look at how the carbon fiber would look like in the deck panels for the dune buggy. I nice touch I think.


In this image from my Fusion 360 CAD software you can better see the layout of the panels that make up the enclosure for the new trunk for the dune buggy. The center panel would have two carbon fiber inserts and a center lock just like any other trunk of a car.  The two side panels would only have one panel of carbon fiber and be mounted to the rear of the dune buggy body at the mounting points that are used for the roll bar supports. 



The assembly for the trunk as shown above would be made up of four separate panels.  The three top panels that you see here along with a larger panel that is mounted just behind the roll bar at the floor of the dune buggy. In the image above you can see two "U" shaped mounts that hold the trunk face panel to the roll bar.  The center trunk lid would be hinged at the trunk face panel and the two smaller side panels would be bolted to it as well. 

Also on the front panel you can see a small rectangular door.  This would make a nice glove compartment that will also be lockable. Something that the dune buggy also does not have and would be a nice addition to the vehicle. 



These last to images that I created in Blender 3D software give you a good idea of how the dune buggy would look with  and without the rear trunk area added to it.  As I never planned on having a dune buggy with more that two seats the rear area looks much more finished with it being completely enclosed and allows me to have a lockable storage area should I need to haul something that I want to protect when the vehicle is left alone.  

That's the plan for now.  Lots of design work will need to be done once I have the vehicle in my hands but for now this portion of the design gives me some good ground work to lay it all out in the coming weeks.  Once I have the dune buggy  safely in my garage I will shoot more photos of it.  Then I will be able to get the correct measurements of the project and hopefully get started on this addition to the vehicle.  Should be interesting and fun all at the same time. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Fun New Vehicle For Me And Another New Project!

Lots of things as usual have been happening here at the workshop over the past couple of weeks to I thought it best that I get this post put out about all of it to let everyone know what is going on.  For many decades one of the vehicles that has always been on my wish list to own has been a dune buggy.  I have looked at, drooled over, and dreamt about owning one of these awesome little vehicles what seems like forever.  Well this past week this dream has finally come true.  For my 65th birthday which will be coming up soon I  bought my dream machine.


I came across this beautiful little buggy on eBay this past week and watched the auction that took place as only one person had placed a bid on it.  The "Buy It Now" price on the car was a bit higher than my limit so I did not place a bid to even start with the auction.  I waited to see what would happen at the end of the auction just to see if someone else would buy the car and I could put it out of my mind once again. This was not the case.



The auction ended with only one bid that did not meet the reserve price and with no one pressing the button to "Buy  It Now".  I thought about the car the next day and just for the heck of it I contact the seller, enquired about the reserve price and made an offer on it.  We talked on the phone that same day and agreed on a price that we could both live with and soon this little beauty will be parked in my garage.  I think mainly because like anyone else this time of year the car would be stored away until next spring and that is why the car did not sell on eBay in the first place.


So with my luck at being able to acquire the dune buggy of my dreams in the first place has been amazing to me to say the least.  This brings me to the second part of this post. Another new project.  The dune buggy will take at least a couple of weeks to be delivered to my house here in Wisconsin from Florida. This has given me time to make room for it to be safely tucked away in my garage until winter has come and gone and time to think about the new project that will be made for the little car.

As you can see from the photos above the dune buggy is set up with only two seats.  This is exactly what I want so with that and everything else in it I will be very pleased to be able to call it mine once I get it into my hands.  The project I have in mind for the dune buggy is to make an enclosed compartment that covers the area that is behind the seats.  This will make a nice storage area that can be locked if I have something with me that I want to protect when I am not with the car and it is parked somewhere without me. 


Here is what I have in mind for the enclosure covering the back of the dune buggy.  I modeled these images up using Blender 3D over a year ago so they are coming in handy now as reference material for the real thing. 


I like the idea of having blisters that are shaped just behind the seats.  I thought it looked really good.  The big issue of this project is being able to go around the roll bars that are mounted in the car.  The enclosure would obviously have to be made in sections in order to accomplish this task.  The fact that the dune buggy does not have a roof shows that this vehicle would not be taken out on a rainy day. I do the same with my motorcycle so that is the plan with the dune buggy.  With that being said the cover that goes over the back of the car would not have to be water tight.  This makes things a bit simpler for the project.  

This all looks good at this point but I will not be able to lock the design down until I get a mock-up made to fit the back of the car and then build it all in fiber glass.  I want to be able to have fairly large opening in the back to get things in and out of the enclosure and also be able to lock it securely it when it is parked. A lot of planning will have to be made to get it all worked out but I think it can be done.  

So that is the plan so far and I have the winter months to work it all out.  I will post more about the dune buggy and this project once it is in my garage and I am ready to tackle it head on.  Should be another fun project to work at. Have a good day on your latest project.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

3D Printed Camera Slider Pt. 2..... Added Tripod Mount

While working on the new design for my powered camera slider I thought it best that I also include the option of being able to mount it to a tripod.  As with the camera slider portion of the project I wanted to keep the cost down so I again have my 3D printer in mind for some of the more intricate parts that need to be created in this build. This is what I came up with. 


I am very happy with the design of the slider itself so I wanted to make a tripod mount that I could be equally happy with in it's design, cost, and ease of construction.  The camera slider is mounted to the tripod mount through the "A" shaped legs at both ends of the slider.  

In the image above this entire assembly seems rather larger but in actuality this is deceiving.  The upper rail that the camera platform rolls on and the two bottom tubes the make up the tripod mount are only around three inches apart.  Overall length of the complete assembly has not changed as I wanted to keep this as small a package as possible and still have a sizeable slider when the project is completed. 


Here is what the tripod mount by itself looks like.  The aluminum tubing is 3/4 inch in diameter and a little over 32 inches in length.  If this turns out to be to long when being used on a tripod the tubes  and the main camera platform rail can be cut to shorter lengths to get it dialed in further if need be.  For now I think this will work as planned.  


Here is an underside view to show you how the camera slider tripod mount will be attached to a tripod. The center 3D printed tube bracket is slide on to both lower 3/4 inch tubes. These are bolted into place to secure the tube in the correct positions.  On the bottom of this mount is a tapered rectangular block that fits into a quick release receiving cavity on the tripod. This makes for a very easy  and solid mount to use when setting up or taking down the assembly after filming has been completed.

Here's a closer look at the center mount for the camera slider tripod mount.  On both sections of the mount are two bolts that compress the upper portion of the mount to grip the 3/4 inch tubing that slides through the mount.  I did not want to drill holes through the tubing to mount this piece as I thought it would be stronger if I left the tubing intact.


Here's a good view of the setup on one end of the camera slider and tripod mount.  The "A" shaped leg is bolted to the black mount for the tubing at the bottom of the image.  The bolts are slid up from the bottom of the tripod mount between the tubing and into the "A" leg and receiving nuts are located at the base of each lower portion of the leg.  The rectangular shaped portions of the leg are cavities in the leg where the nuts are located.  This was a simple and effective way to do the setup.  

The bolts for the tripod mount can easily be removed so the camera slider can sit on top of a table or on any hard surface when a tripod is not needed for filming.  At this point I do not have an estimate on the weight of the camera slider and tripod mount but just guessing I would suspect that it would be less than five pounds.  Maybe even a lot less.  Something I will have to keep in mind to tell you about when I have this project completed.  Cost for the tripod mount will be under $15 so that is also a good thing for the project.   Have a good day in your shop and I'll post more about this project when I get more parts made or in the mail to get it all together.

Friday, October 5, 2018

3D Printed Camera Slider Project Pt. 1

Three years ago I designed and built a piece of camera equipment called a camera slider.  This piece of equipment helps create a panning view of a scene that you cannot duplicate by hand holding a video camera. You've seen it in practically every movie you've watched on TV or at the theater.

Here's a link to a short video that I put together about my first design and use of the camera slider.




My original design for the camera slider worked ok.  That was about the best I could say for it.  It was heavy, clunky and was not motorized. So it's been sitting in my closet taunting me every time I look at it and for the past three years or so has been collecting dust even though I want to use it.  Very few of my projects end up this way thank goodness but I am still disappointed with how that one turned out.


The reason I had not built a new one was that I could not find the right electronics to make it all work and not have to get an engineering degree in electronics to understand how to make it all go together in the first place. 

This all changed in the past week or so.  No I did not get a degree but I came across a video online of a camera slider that had the electronics that I understood right out of the box.  Simple easy to understand components that anyone could assemble in a matter of minutes. The only issue I had with this persons design was that I wanted something more refined, less toy like.  So off to my computer I put together my new design that would be motorized, sleek, lightweight and best of all inexpensive to build compared with a professional camera slider that can cost hundreds of dollars.



Here is my new design that I put together using Fusion 360 CAD software.  The main beam for the camera slider is a 20mm square extruded aluminum bar that is 30" long.  The length of the slider is 34 inches. It stands 5.7 inches tall from the ground to the camera quick release mounting surface.  Width comes in at only 4.5 inches.  The camera travel with the motorized timing belt is 26 inches. So it will be a nice size to work with.


The video camera is mounted to a quick release mount (in black). This in turn is mounted to the slider platform (in red).  A timing belt is mounted to both sides of the slider platform and is routed around pulleys at both ends of the camera slider.  One is an idler pully that just spins and the other is mounted to a 6-12 volt battery powered motor.  The camera mount is moved by the motor and timing belt and rolls on three separate rollers that are held in place by the V-slot aluminum guide bar.


In the image above you can see the pulley for the motor and the timing belt at the top of the assembly. The rather large looking red enclosure is actually quite small in size. The enclosure is only 4.8 inches tall, 4.5 inches wide, and 2.4 inches deep.  In this enclosure is speed controller, 2-way switch, and a 9 volt battery to power the camera slider. 


In this image you can see a green tube that goes from the motor to the speed controller that is housed inside of the red enclosure. This tube contains the wiring for the motor to the speed controller so it keeps things nice and tidy while the camera slider is in use. On the back of the enclosure is a two way switch to make the motor move either in forward or reverse to in turn move the camera either left or right.  Below this switch is a small knob that controls the speed of the battery powered motor.

 Here is the little speed controller that is mounted inside of the red enclosure for the camera slider. There are four connections that are need for the controller so it is an easy setup. The cost of the controller is only $5.75

The little DC motor is 6-12 volts with a high torque gear drive costing only $6.64 from Gearbest.



The timing belt that helps make the camera slider actually move is very inexpensive as well for this project coming in at only $2.19.

The rollers for the main beam I tracked down on Ebay and managed to get four of them for around a dollar a piece.  Other sites wanted four times that amount so I thought it was a good deal. 


The last major piece to this project is the V-slot linear rail that is needed for the main beam. This was the more expensive piece that I need for this project and a piece a little over 39" long costs around $10 but shipping brought that up to almost double that at $18.84.  As I said more expensive but needed for the project.


Lastly all of the other components for the camera slider I can purchase at my local hardware store (nut, bolts, etc.) and the rest I will 3D print.  I figure the grand total for the project should be just under $40.  Considering that a camera slider that is already made by an outside company can run into the hundreds of dollars the price for this project is pocket change in comparison.   


I have all of the components on order and should be able to start 3D printing the remaining parts as soon as everything shows up at my door and I can double check dimensions to make everything work properly for the build.  It should be a fun project once I get into it full tilt.  I'll post my progress as usual and let you know how it all turns out.