I thought I might once again tap into the wealth of knowledge on this forum.

This is a long one, so I apologize in advance!

I have been doing camera moves manually with a 410jr mounted on a linear motion guide (non-driven slider) and am having some issues;

I come from a live action background, so I have a huge liking for highly complex as well as very subtle camera moves to emphasise story points. I am finding it very  difficult to achieve satisfying results using my current set up and think that I will have to inevitably move to motion control.

Now, before anyone suggests that I go out and spend $25,000 on an ARC MoCo (I wish!!!!), I really can't spend much more than $2000 USD.

I do have a simple engineering workshop available for use, but my skill-set in mechanical engineering is very limited. My skill-set in electrical engineering is virtually non-existent.

So this leaves me with few options. I think buying something, which I know for certain will work and do what I want would be the ideal option.

I've been researching and it seems that the eMotimo TB-3 would be the most sensible choice of head, although it only offers 3 axis - so that would be an issue if I ever needed to add a focus option.

http://ditogear.com have some really nice heads, but again, 4 times the price of the TB-3

As far as dollies go, the only affordable option seems to be the Dynamic Perception Stage Zero 6ft kit as a sort of "plug and play" with the TB-3.

Other options include: http://ditogear.com/products/omnislider-animators-edition/

Which would be great, as it would leave me an additional 7 channels of moco for upgrade purposes. However, I am not sure if it is possible to simultaneously run two different USB moco drivers through Dragonframe?

And then there are the Kessler cinesliders, which with an added servo would perform a similar task.

And lastly, linear actuators off of ebay with low-backlash ballscrews. The only problem with this is that I would have no way of knowing the quality of the product before arrival due to lack of reviews etc.

All points to consider.

I'm looking at purchasing within the next 2-3 months.

Does anybody have any further thoughts/experiences?



Tags: control, moco, motion

Views: 275

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Hey Harrie, are you looking for something along the lines of what I built for myself? 7 axis?
Hi Doug,

I was admiring your rig earlier. Something like that would be great. It is likely beyond my ability level however to build one like yours. Particularly the electrical portion.

Sourcing parts in new Zealand at a reasonable price can be problematic also.

However, I'd love to set something like that up. Maybe the ditogear control box that integrates direct with dragon frame would be a good base?

Or perhaps I could copy your wiring? Does yours integrate well with dragonframe? Does it take a lot of trial and error to get it all operating smoothly, or is it fairly straight forward?

The actual physical construction  provided I can source parts for a reasonable price, looks fairly straight forward on second glance. I figure if I used bearings on all joints and full aluminium construction etc that I could get pretty reasonable repeatability etc. 

What is your 7th axis? I count 1:pan, 2:tilt, 3,focus, 4:track, 5: boom, 6: swing. What does the 7th axis do?

But yeah, I don't really know the first thing about wiring up steppers, gearing etc etc, so may be a little ambitious. 



Ahh, no:7 is roll.

Ok, commenting on my own thread, again, but...

I just got off of the phone with a friend who has been researching (conveniently) a lot into diy cnc machining lately. It would seem that the electrical portion of the rig is not overly difficult, and using dragons integration with the Arduino boards it is pretty feasible to make this myself.

My dad is an engineer, so I guess I better start offering up a bunch of yard work or something! Anyway, for the mean time it's to the drawing board and deciding on things like belt vs. chain vs. delrin gear  driven components etc.

Are there any particular things to look out for in these homebrew systems?

Thanks for your patience,


Hey Harrie
Sorry I just saw this. It is indeed pretty easy to get going with a moco rig. The electronics are not hard, pretty much plug and play with a few things to be wary of. The hard part is already done by the boys at DF. So I would suggest an Arduino Meg 2560 or the current equivalent. You could also go with a ChipKit MAX. Next would be the Big Easy Drivers for the steppers. There are others but this is what I use and so far they are rock solid stable. The motors I use are the Phidgets NEMA 17 with the planetary gear box. Massive torque low volts and just enough amps for the BEDs. Here is something that Jim clued me in to, you want the steppers to be low voltage, 6volts works well. You want to be shoving 24volts to the BEDs as these are chopper drivers. They BEDs take that voltage and chop it to a constant voltage that the motors then take and use to energize the coils which gives them their holding torque. Don't worry too much about what is going on in the background, suffice to say that the system works. One thing to never do is hook up a motor to a BED when it is powered up! You will probably fry the board! When it comes to wiring I can send you a simple drawing to show you how. When it comes to actual construction whatever you have at your disposal or whatever you can source locally is always a good way to go. Any other info I can provide just let me know. Good luck.
Just checked the motors I bought, they are the Phidgets NEMA -17 12 volt 1.68 amps. 3 of the 233oz/in and 2 of the 555oz/in. I use the higher torque models for the swing axis and the tilt axis. These things have so much torque you can not move the shaft of the motor by hand. The other 3 I use for my pan roll and the dolly. They can be moved by hand.

Would love a wiring diagram, thanks! Some info on the power supply would be great too. The electronics are my weak point - so if I can just copy yours exactly I should be sussed. I have a friend who is a programmer, so he should be able to modify the Dragonframe Arduino sketch for me as far as calibration etc goes.

My email address is hendrikusdevaan@gmail.com     - Please, no hurry on this. It's going to be a long, slow build anyway. I really appreciate you taking the time to offer the advice however. If I had more money I would probably just try and commission you to build me the electronics ;)

I've decided to go for full metal construction for the mechanical and structural components, aluminium and steel, as I have 24/7 access to a basic engineering workshop and limited part time access to an engineer too (my dad). I've been doing some sketches etc, I'll post build photos once I make a start on it.

I think I'm going to forgo the roll axis initially and consider adding it later as a "bolt-on" dutch tilt head. I think this will save a lot of build time initially as I have potentially sourced an affordable stepper driven pan/tilt head assembly that I can modify to fit on the end of the jib.



It sounds like I'm on much the same page as you. I've been researching MoCo for both live-action as well as stopMo, and attempting to put together a ~2k$ rig.

Here was my last brainstorming session and notes, looking at and comparing what is commercially available;


Its definitely do-able. You should also look into Dynamic perceptions, they have an open source platform which they are developing hardware for too.

I started a thread there as well;


Thanks Brad,

some good research there. Those worm bearing look pretty sweet!

I've decided to do a two phase build. 

Phase 1: 4 axis rig - Dolly, Pan, Tilt and focus. With 8 channel control box.
Phase 2: Additional 2 axis - Boom and Swing + housing table etc.
For the dolly I will use 1500mm SBR20 linear motion guides from ebay and a ballscrew assembly driven by a phidgets 26:1 motor.
The pan and tilt head I have bought special order from emotimo without the electronic "guts" so I can drive it using my own controler.
Controller will be an Arduino Mega R3, (motor drivers not finalized but likely these x8), powered by a cheap chinese 12/24v 20a power supply. Probably using xlr cables for the plugins.

This is also a great design for a DIY pan/tilt head that would fit inside our budgets;


That looks pretty nice. I've actually already ordered my pan and tilt head.

Is this how you are building yours?

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