Tom is an open-sourced, single-axis camera rail developed for shooting time lapse sequences with camera motion. The overall design is much inspired by the Chronos Project, another open-sourced camera rail system, so shoutout to them. I use a few of their since-discontinued control boards, which I now dilligently guard like Elaine's "sponges," if anybody is hip to that Seinfeld episode.
The project was started as a way of scratching my own itch, in many ways. I had been playing around with CNC routers, making assorted custom parts at the time. Meanwhile I'd also just purchased my first DSLR camera. Here is literally the first time I ever hit the video button on it. Look at that form. Anyway, the Igus rail and Arduinos kicking around my place were final straws for starting this build.
Tom uses a screw drive for its translation motion. Much like a CNC router, beneath the camera's carriage is an anti-backlash nut that receives the motor drive. The Igus rail package this project is based on is perfect for this type of movement. The tolerances between its bearings and rail are right on. I've also dropped standard 3/8-16 tripod threads down the length of it, so mounting options are abound (exhibits A, B, and C).
Tom is currently controlled via a Chronos Project Arduino shield. It uses "shoot-move-shoot" parameters––mega handy for time lapse photography. Meanwhile I'm making headway with bringing all controls into a web browser using Johnny Five and node.js. Will get software dev fired back up this winter. To be continued.
I don't hesitate to share that I initially CAD'ed Tom and its custom components in Sketchup. It made 3D illustration super approachable, and I still use it as a sandbox for getting ideas down. While more advanced CAD programs can take you to higher places, Sketchup feels like a ball of clay you can quickly prototype ideas through.
Solidworks is next level incredible though, let's be real. Its tool palette had me at "Hole Wizard." The parametric design capabilities? Stop, I'm tearing up. Tom and all subsequent rail projects have since been ported over to Solidworks.
Quick shoutout to Fran Graves, close friend and local legend, who so graciously abandoned several otherwise productive weekends to let me fly under his wing at his CNC mill. This man is largely the reason I'm able to sing to myself "started from the bottom, now we here" when I step up to the Media Lab's monster CNC router, before proceeding to bend it to my will.
Tom––like most projects, eh?––is a work in progress. The hardware side is complete. Next stop: web browser control. Outfitting this software as an iPhone app is most certainly on the horizon. Then the camera would be the controller, and the controller, the camera. Singularity, achieved.
Tom is an open-sourced project. I know, I'm such a nice guy. Below you'll find a complete bill of materials. All custom components can be milled from 1/2" thick polycarbonate, or material of your choice. CAD models and drawings thereof are to the right. What are you waiting for? Fire up your pirated copy of Solidworks today and get to making. Try not to email me if you can help it.
|SW Name||Code||Description||Q||QP||Cost/Unit||Cost||Serial Number||Supplier|
|S-375-050-BTN-H-SS||HRD||3/8-16 1/2" screw||4||1||$7.42||$7.42||98164A469||McMaster Carr|
|S-010-716-SKT-H-SS||HRD||10-24 7/16" screw||4||1||$6.71||$6.71||92185A184||McMaster Carr|
|M-080-160-SKT-H-SS||HRD||M8 16mm screw||8||1||$7.07||$7.07||91292A145||McMaster Carr|
|S-004-075-NUT-H-SS||HRD||4-40 3/4" screw||4||1||$5.44||$5.44||92185A112||McMaster Carr|
|S-004-025-NUT-H-SS||HRD||4-40 1/4" nut||4||1||$2.83||$2.83||91841A005||McMaster Carr|
|S-006-075-SKT-H-SS||HRD||6-32 3/4" screw||2||1||$3.07||$3.07||92185A151||McMaster Carr|
|flanged_bearing||MOT||flanged bearing||1||1||$7.21||$7.21||6384K342||McMaster Carr|
|igus_rail||MOT||Igus DryLin W1040-A rail||1||1||$88.93||$88.93||W1040-A||Amazon|
|threaded_rod||MOT||3' 1/4"-20 threaded rod||1||1||$6.02||$6.02||93250A125||McMaster Carr|
|flex_joint||MOT||flex joint on motor||1||1||$37.53||$37.53||9861T529||McMaster Carr|
|nema23_motor||MOT||Nema 23 stepper motor||1||1||$16.00||$16.00||23HS22-1504S||Stepper Online|
|flanged_bearing||MOT||1/4" flanged ball bearing||1||1||$7.21||$7.21||6384K342||McMaster Carr|
|spacer||PLC||vertical carriage spacer||1||1||custom||custom||custom||timsavas|
|bearing_mount||PLC||mount for flanged bearing||1||1||custom||custom||custom||timsavas|
|motor_mount||PLC||motor to rail connection||1||1||custom||custom||custom||timsavas|
|backlash_mount||PLC||bracket for backlash||1||1||custom||custom||custom||timsavas|