Adafruit upgrades its 3D-printed camera slider with motors and Bluetooth control.
Our friends over at Adafruit love photography, so much so that they recently created a slick slider for their camera. This turned out to be just fine and dandy for hobbyist photographers, but why not take it one step further? Being the Makers that they are, the Ruiz Brothers decided to motorize their existing 3D-printed tool and to add wireless control. Whereas a similar product could run you a couple hundred dollars, this DIY mechanism is fun to build and for a fraction of the cost.
For this iteration, the low-profile slider is motorized using a single NEMA-17 stepper driven by the Adafruit Motor Shield ontop of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). At its core, the project consists of 500mm slide rail, along with a GT2 timing pulley mounted to a stepper motor, a radial ball bearing and a timing belt that pulls the platform across. As for power, eight AA batteries supply the necessary 12V to the Arduino via a 2.1mm barrel jack.
Though designed with a GoPro or smartphone camera in mind, the slider itself is capable of pushing roughly three to four pounds of weight. This means your point-and-shoot, camcorders and webcams should all suffice, as long as they’re tightly mounted to the unit. The slider should work on any angle and in any position, and doesn’t require a flat surface. This can make for some pretty remarkable timelapses, especially on your iPhone!
“The slider performs the smoothest movement when the timing pulley on the stepper pulls the slider to it,” the Ruiz Brothers write. “Ideally, the platform should be homed when its closest to the radial ball bearing. When the platform slides across in the other direction, the timing pulley pushes the belt, which introduces a slight shake. The shake is noticable in our tests, so we recommend sliding one way.”
Meanwhile, an Adafruit Bluefruit SPI Friend enables you to remotely control the cinematic movement of your camera slider via the Adafruit Bluefruit LE Connect mobile app on any Android or iOS device, including your smartwatch. From the app, you can increase or decrease the speed, start or retract the camera motion, ease in and out, among many other things.
In terms of software, the system uses a controller motor shield Arduino sketch, which features several functions for moving the slider and setting the speed. This sketch calls for both the Adafruit Motor Shield V2 and Adafruit Adafruit BluefruitLE nRF51 libraries.
Intrigued? You can find an exhaustive tutorial of the build here, or simply watch a brief overview below!