3D printed, motion controlled camera gimbal 

Update: Now on Thingiverse

The beginning

I am setting out to do timelapse experiments so I need some hardware. In particular, a motion controlled camera pan & tilt head on a track. Yes, I could buy it, but where's the fun in that? Also, I have most of the parts laying around in my shop anyway and if I build it myself I can customize it exactly to my needs.  I didn't really plan to make this a detailed built log, and it's not even finished but I guess I can add to this page as things come online.  So here goes.

Print it and be done with it

Quick and dirty is what I am aiming for. Ordering parts online requires a certain amount of patience and machining bits on a lathe or CNC can be quite labour intensive. So, I designed the whole thing to come off the 3D printer and plug straight together without further ado.


Yes, it did take somewhere in the vicinity of 100h to print (at 150microns per layer, because why not) but since the printer is doing the brunt of the work that's fine with me.

getting crowded on the build plate

A few things have to be considered when designing for a 3D printer. Size of the build volume, orientation of certain features and the "anisotropic" strength of the printed parts based on layer direction. So I split the main part into 6 bits with registration features for alignment. They are epoxied together to form one strong part. (Turns out this also came in handy during assembly. I left the sides unglued so they can be disassembled to access other parts)

after glue

Almost there. Everything fits snuggly. The only parts that needed a bit of sanding where the bearing mounts which were designed with tight tolerances on purpose.

motorized pan and tilt


A Raspberry Pi talks to Grbl running on an Arduino Nano. Connecting some noname chinese stepper drivers with 2 standard Nema 17 motors running at about 1.5A. Inductive proximity switches are used for homing. The rig is quite snappy and has ample strength and rigidity. Frankly, it was quite a surprise to see it come together so nicely and it's working quite well.

Before doing anything useful with it, let's do something fun instead

Note from the editor

I'm not going into the pyrotechnics for obvious reasons but these are all practical effects. No vfx artists (or pirates) were harmed for this video.

Filming did require a bit of creative cable management though.


I hope you enjoyed this little tidbit. I didn't take a lot of pictures and the build details are still a bit in flux. I'll post some updates once I finish the linear track part. Stay tuned.


...and don't forget your safety goggles!