Cheesycam DIY Video Tripod Platform Push Dolly Project
April 29, 2014
If you’re not familiar with the history behind the website name, it’s derived from many of the ‘cheesy’ ideas and ‘cheesy’ DIY projects that I’ve built and shared through this website. So here’s another ‘cheesy’ project i’ve been tinkering with, and I thought i’d share where i’m at with it.
I was looking for a super portable platform dolly in which we can push around a camera operator. Traditional video doorway dollies were too large and expensive for my needs. I wanted something more compact, lightweight, and fast to get setup.
The dolly needed to be able to repeat a set path whether it be forward / back / side to side or even a curved path. For curved paths I wanted to be able to change the size of my arc. A repeatable Arc allows me to perform fixed point shooting. I wanted to be perform all of these functions without carrying a set of dolly tracks. It also had to be compact enough to fit in the trunk of my Honda Fit (small car).
I tested a few different ideas and came up with a very minimal design that only required two adjustable axles. I had no idea if this would even work, so I mocked up a table top version with balsa wood (seen below).
Once I knew the system would fold and track the way I needed it to, I started out with a 2×2 plywood base and bolted up steel square tubes. I literally went through a few sets of wheels including pneumatic ones, but to keep costs down I finally settled on these inexpensive smooth scooter wheels (found here).
The swiveling push handle costs under $8 dollars found on Harbor Freight (here). The push handle can be collapsed or telescoped when you need the longer length. It comes with a clip to hold it in place during travel.
Swivel Folding Compact Push Handle
My design keeps the entire system as compact as the platform itself, but as the axles expand it uses a wider stance. Once the axles are expanded, I have holes drilled into the platform so I can drop a bolt down and lock the axles in place. I have several holes depending on if I need it straight or curved. With these holes in place, I don’t need to figure out if my axles are aligned. It literally only takes seconds to setup, break down, and change tracking positions.
You can place a tripod directly over the platform, but you will most likely pick up vibrations if the surface you roll on is not smooth. Our method is to place a camera operator onto the platform with either a hand held stabilizer, a gimbal, fig rig, or at least a shoulder rig. Since many cameras offer image stabilization, we’re getting great results with a tool that is fast to setup and easy to move around.
So now that I was able to prove the basic design concept is functional, i’ll probably recreate this with better materials, add some additional missing features (i.e. tripod lock), and give it a more professional finish with a rubber mat over the platform.
Well hopefully you found this project interesting and maybe even inspiring enough to build one yourself. If you liked this you’ll probably enjoy some of the other ideas I will be sharing in the near future, so please subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Follow me on Twitter, or Like my Facebook Page.
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