DIY Motorized Dolly Pan Tilt Head

Vimeo member Brad Justinen shares a DIY motorized roller dolly and use a Meade motorized Telescope head for some smooth pan/tilt action. You'll see how all this comes together in the video, and more information on the parts used at the video description. Many of these parts can be found cheaper used via eBay found below.

Traxxas Remote
find-price-button Traxxas Transmitter and Receiver For Servo Control

Meade Milapse
find-price-button Meade Telescope Milapse Motion Pan Tilt

find-price-button Parallax Continuous Rotation Servo

17 thoughts on “DIY Motorized Dolly Pan Tilt Head

  1. Liam

    I'm running A new MacBook Pro and I waited until it fully loaded in - same stuttering effect. I watched it on Vimeo and it was better but not perfect. Must be a reposting issue.

  2. Brad Justinen

    Just a few thoughts on the pan/tilt situation.

    The Meade motors are really only loud at the fastest setting. That being said 99% time i could just paste new audio in post. For music videos, promos, etc. the live audio is really not important.

    You can get the Meade arm really cheap on craigslist. I saw some go for as little as $30. They go quick so you will have to be vigilant.

    Besides being super cheap the Meade telescope arm's pan/tilt motion is smooth as butter - even at 300mm.

  3. jarrett towe

    RRevo, thanks. I just saw a link where a guy put a panasonic anamorphic adapter onthe hx9 with a vid-atlantic adapter. Hopefully a simple rc unit like this may open a lot of possibilities for my tiny camera!

  4. jarrett towe

    mikenovido, hit us with the link. i'm going to talk to some rc guys and come up with a simple design.

  5. @Jarrett
    After checking out your link, that is the way I would set mine up. Create a fluid pan tilt on it's own and then use servos via linkage with maybe some soft springs on either end of the connecting rod to allow it to have a slight displacement with the momentum it builds as it moves.

    Making that is very easy if you have a creative mind or basic knowledge of building things.

  6. @Jarrett Towe.
    Absolutely. In fact there are dozens already available. I would probably make my own that would be geared down way more as servos can be a tad jerky and not as fluid as you give them a command to stop at a specific spot and it will jerk it a bit. Perhaps you need to setup more of a home built servo with a motor/encoder and just allow your ESC that controls the motor to coast as to not produce jerks on stops and end points.

    Search for servo pan tilt and you will get tons of results.
    (example: )
    That one just would give you some jittery movements I think unless you controlled it very slowly.

  7. jarrett towe

    Rrevo, is it possible to make a pan and tilt rc car for point and shoots? the reduced weight would make it possible i think. i was looking at the lego robotic sets, but i thought two people could operate an rc car (one for locomotion, one for pan and tilt motion). How could it be done cheapest, assuming we want the ability to do slow movements with a silent or near silent vehicle?

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Liam - The user allows the video source to be downloaded. Many people will download the source for local playback to get the best performance.

  9. Liam

    Does this video look sticky/Jerky to anyone else? It was so bad I couldn't finish watching it. I'm guessing it's video/net compression but what's the point in having these cool contraptions to get the shot we want if the final edit results in jerky movements. Kind of defeats the purpose...

  10. I would go with this radio:
    Or even
    for even more control of various motions all in one.
    Then again I build combat robots so wiring this all up is easy as pie, but talk with some basic RC guys and you can make some cool stuff.

    Now just to make my homemade carbon fiber system.

  11. jarrett towe

    Something like a sm57/58 would probably do ok. i know its not an all in one solution, but hey, compared to the hollywood style motors, this is cheap. Maybe security cam motorized mounts would do it?

  12. Mickey Jones

    The Goto telescope mount seems very smooth. Nice for time lapse but the motor is apparently noisy.

    My mic can pick up a computer fan from 30 feet away. This would sound like an impact wrench.

  13. jarrett towe

    Now if we could come up with one of these for an hx9...i figure you could mount it to a cheap electric car that is capable of slow movement, and the whole thing would be able to mount to a tripod without taking the hx9 out of the car assembly. Picture a mini dslr cage with wheels on the bottom that can be quickly mounted on a tripod and removed for dolly use. We should be able to come up with something workable for the smaller cameras now that we see how good they are turning out to be.

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