posts tagged with the keyword ‘slider’


New Slider

If you saw my post about a Motorized Camera Slider, this is a bit of an update, but it’s really more about the process than the end product, so if you’re interested in that, read on!

Slider End (Original)

I was originally using the improved camera slider V2 from our pal Marcus, and it worked well enough, but I wanted something different, so I tweaked what he had.

Slider End sliced

Marcus created his original file (I think) with Alibre Design, and since I couldn’t open it, I just worked with the STL file he provided. I loaded that into OpenSCAD and grabbed a slice of it using this method.

Slider End outline

Once I had a line drawing of the original slider end, I could use it to make my own. I imported the DXF File into Inkscape, my standard for 2D (and 2.5D) illustration.

Slider End outline

In reality, the only parts I really used from the original were the approximate size of the piece, and the two holes for the rods. I could have measured things, but loading up a file as a template was easier. I guess I could have got all fancy at this point, but I just kept it simple.

New Slider End

Once I had my SVG done in Inkscape, and exported a DXF file, it was a matter of doing the old linear_extrude method, like I did for my snowflakes, etc. I saved out an STL file and I was ready to print.

Nw Slider End

Here’s what the final piece looks like. One of the issues I had with the design Marcus created was that the rods only went part way into the plastic. There were screw holes to tighten down some screws onto the rods to hold things in place, but I never put any in. They might have also helped with the twisting issue this design has, but I may explore the idea of a two-piece design that clamps tight with the plastic. Or not… the nice thing is, it’s easy to experiment.

If I wanted to, I could probably make these ends out of wood, which would require just a drill press, or maybe out of a nice heavy metal, which might require drilling, or maybe milling. Both processes are a little messy, potentially more expensive, and require equipment you might not have. The nice thing about 3D printing these is that I can iterate a design quickly, and at a very low cost. I can even make them mostly hollow to save on time and materials during testing, and then make stronger, more solid versions when desired.

Nw Slider End

You may notice the carriage has some zip ties on it. Those are holding the LM8UU linear bearings in place. My original carriage was way too stiff, and without exact alignment (which you may not get with DIY plastic parts) it didn’t slide without some binding. The bearings were 58 cents each (I got a 10-pack from an ebay seller.) The bearings are a little noisy, so if you plan to shoot video with sound, you might have some issues. (Maybe more expensive bearing would make less noise?) As for the rods, they were about $15 each (pricey compared to the other parts) from There are cheaper alternatives depending on length, size, quality, etc. I went with 8mm because those are standard RepRap sizes.

At some point I may play with carriage designs as well. I actually did an early version that used felt instead of linear bearings (another trick from the RepRap world) which makes things cheaper and quieter, which may be desirable in some cases. And of course, I need to revisit the whole “motorized” part of this thing.

Until next time!


Motorized Camera Slider

Still very much in progress, but here’s the first iteration of my motorized camera slider. The slider ends are this part, and the carriage is this part. I had to tweak the heck out of the OpenSCAD file for the carriage to get it to fit right. I also learned about silicone spray to get things sliding more smoothly, and the fact that it’s better to leave bearings a little loose if you don’t have precision alignment.

The “motorized” part is pretty simple…actually too simple, and I need to complex it up a bit. It’s a continuous rotation servo with a spool attached and some string wound onto it. It just slowly pulls the camera across the rods. I need to add some controls to allow for setting the speed, and some gearing might also help things move a little better. I’d also like to investigate using a threaded rod as a screw drive, which could also function as a third support.

Ultimately, I want to have a rig that will move the camera slightly, then trigger the camera to snap a photo, then repeat. I’ve got the code for all this, so right now it’s mainly a matter of the mechanical build (needs improvement) and wiring things up without it being too messy. (The guys at the Federal building told me they get concerned when they see wires and batteries.) A nice case might be in order. I might also look for a smaller ball head, as this one is quite large and heavy, which doesn’t help outside on a windy day. There’s a long list of improvements to this, so expect more posts in the future.

See a video of one of the early tests of this thing.


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