Cheesycam DIY Video Tripod Platform Push Dolly Project

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).

Cheesycam Prototype Dolly DIY Video PLatform Dolly Project

Once I knew the system would fold and track the way I needed it to, I started out with a 2x2 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).

Cheesycam DIY Video Dolly Scooter Wheels Track Dolly
find-price-button Scooter Wheels

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.
cheesycam diy video track dolly push handle swivelswivel folding push dolly handle cheesycam
find-price-button 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.

DIY Video Dolly Cheesycam Platform curved track dolly arc tripod Cheesycam DIY Doorway Dolly Platform Tripod Track Dolly

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.

Tripod Mounted DIY Video Dolly Track Curved Arc DIY Video Dolly Stabilized Camera GH4

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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24 thoughts on “Cheesycam DIY Video Tripod Platform Push Dolly Project

  1. This is kind of nostalgia, back to the basics of DIY - rehashing ideas, trial and error stuff, and making it work the way you have envisioned in your head tens/hundreds of time. Plus of course the fun of DIY. Great work on that dolly Emm!

    I came to this site almost three years ago, read and learned a lot. And built my first DIY motorized slider from the knowledge and ideas thrown around here. CheesyCam featured it here back then. I'll always remember that. Thanks again Emm.

  2. Matt F

    Thanks for your generosity in sharing this! I'd love to see a DIY "build it yourself" kit for sale which would have the raw materials and predrilled metal.

  3. This is so cheesylicious, Make a collapsable drum seat like the other person said. Add some angle markers with set pins/screws for the angled wheels. And use those bigger rubber pneumatic wheels. Machine the base out of delrin plastic.

  4. krys

    @emm which pneumatics are you looking at ? i got some harbor freight ones O_O ? i'll prob try those out

  5. Emm

    Post author

    @Rob S. - Yes as noted in the article, I tested a few wheels including pneumatics. Since this was a prototype I wanted to see if it worked first, because pneumatic wheels are very expensive. At least the ones I wanted.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @Nate - To track straight, the way I set my wheels would probably work on a large diameter pipe. If you want curved tracks, it wouldn't be the axles for something like that. It would be more on swiveling casters. You would have to change the wheel configuration.

  7. Nate

    Great project. Would this run on pipe? Or more specifically, those flexible rails? Trying to get my head around the way the axles would move for that.

  8. Rob S.

    Adding some soft knobby pneumatic or foam filled tires would work great as well over rough surfaces. Make it smoother and quieter.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Simon - Yes I have all those things in mind about adding to the next build. This was just to confirm the functionality of folding axles and tracking paths. I have a nice padded bike seat here with me that I was eventually going to mount to the platform.

  10. Simon

    I made a few similar to this and have pushed the pro versions around. The one factor that really helps is to get a way for the operator to sit down. On a pro dolly, they get a nice padded adjustable swivel seat.

    But even if it's on an apple box, having the operator sit, means they are not counteracting the motion to remain balanced which means smoother shots and relaxed operators.

    Simon

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Lainol - Yeah, it's far from perfect. I was really just testing to see if the whole axle configuration would work. Now that I know it works, I can make it more robust and maybe add a seat too.

  12. Lainol

    As always, awesome.

    A suggestion, what about a pair of tubes below the table connecting everything for more weight load in the middle section?

  13. Emm

    Post author

    @Dave - Prices on products have come down so low, it's rare to need a DIY these days. This was one I had stuck in my head for a while and finally took a little bit of time to assemble a full scale version. It's unique but very practical and functional.

  14. We are not worthy, we are not worthy (bowing...). Now get your buddies over at Kamerar to mass produce this, maybe substituting some aluminum with holes instead of the plywood to make it lighter, and you can retire on the sales of this thing.

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