Timelapse Motion Control Axis

I’ve been working on the OpenMoco project lately, and have been playing around with some pan/tilt/etc axis designs.  This is the latest of my prototypes, CNC routed out of cast acrylic with worm gearing.

The specs are:

  • 120:1 Worm Gearing
  • Anaheim stepper motor (1.8′)
  • Minimum rotational degrees at 8x microstepping: 0.0019′
  • Easydriver v4 stepper driver
  • Max camera weight: 10lbs.

Mounting is allowed is different configurations through the use of small plates and threaded inserts in three sides of the axis.  An additional plate allows a clamp to be mounted to the output shaft.  One small plate aso has a 3/8″-16 threaded insert for direct attachment to a tripod.  The motor axis is controlled by an Arduino running the OpenMoco Timelapse Engine, which is in turn controlled by a netbook using the Slim application.

Here’s a video of it in action, showing how the engine allows real-time changes in addition to scripted activities using keyframes and actions.

And, here’s a video shot by the previous prototype, using the same engine, to shoot a macro video through a magnifying glass.  While the above video shows its ability to make large movements, this video shows its ability to make very fine-grained movements, covering less than 1/2″ of the magnifying glass throughout the video.  The motion is controlled via pre-programmed keyframes while the engine is running, and the entire video is shot using a DSLR, without assistance.

Taking a close-up look at the new axis:

And here’s a very simple enclosure for the Arduino running the engine:


~ by c.a. church on January 3, 2010.

9 Responses to “Timelapse Motion Control Axis”

  1. Very cool, Chris.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by c. a. church, Jay Burlage. Jay Burlage said: RT @droneone: Finished a new prototype axis this past week, photos and videos: http://bit.ly/8nG7Cx […]

  3. Hello, Nice project. Where did you get the brass worm and gear?


  4. Wow great construction! Myself for timelapses I use a modified telescope pan/tilt head.

    Seems like you have a huge experience with the Arduino. Im a newbie in programming and Im searching for someone who can do a little programm for me so I can move my diy dolly with 1 stepper motor in each direction. Also a “save current position” and “goto saved position” buttons would be perfect. If someone is willing to help me or point me in the right direction please let me know.


    • Daniel, I see you’re over on OpenMoCo.org now, that’s the right place to be =) Check out the TimeLapse Engine : http://openmoco.org/node/9 it does pretty much everything you’re asking about, and more =) I lacks the “buttons” (it’s intended to be controlled by another device), but you could very easily add those, especially since you just need one axis, you can drop the control lines for the others.


      • Thanks very much I didn’t know Opemoco could do this! I will download it now and see if I understand the programming.

        You say I can very easily add those buttons. But i’ve just took a look at the LED blinking tutorial and that’s all my programming experience with the Arduino…. 🙂

  5. Hello, iam from argentina, i speak spanish, so sorry about my english!!!
    Iam very interested in your project, i found some guy who sell arduino stuff in my city. iam not very into electronics, much more in photography. So i ask you,if there is any posibility to you send me some kind of “plan” “step by step” “diy plan” to build some thing like this.
    iam sorry if i offend you in some type.

  6. Federico,

    No offense at all =)

    See openmoco.org for more details and different designs. (Yes, I know it’s a silly name in Spanish =)


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