I am looking to build a rolling set like the one below.  Does anyone have insight or advice or experience with this type of set? 

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Cool - hope you share pics of the making of it, and the finished result!

The photo, with the view of the plywood octagon on the end, pretty well explains it.  I would probably go with disks rather than octagons, but I suppose you could get a bigger piece out of a sheet of ply this way.  I'd be tempted to cut half-circles of ply, and join them, to get an even bigger diameter.  But with the trees sticking out, this one couldn't really be any closer to the ground or they would scrape it, so maybe that's a big as you would want to go.  It's already pretty high up.

The angles at one end seem to be offset with the angles at the other end, interesting.   You still get some angles in the road surface though.   If a model car was travelling along it, the middle might scrape the ground as it goes over the bump.  For that reason a smoother curve would be best.  

I haven't made one, thought about it a couple of times.  I built a similar (but smaller) rotating drum to cast a ripple pattern of shadows on a set to create the impression there was light reflecting off water once.  I had marks around the edge of the disc to measure the amount I turned it each frame.  I had a length of dowel for the axle, plus 2 bits of pine around the edges of the discs to join them together.  Then you could staple card around that.  Or chicken wire if you wanted to make the ground more irregular.

I doubt this will be of much help but if you haven't stumbled across it already heres a video of one in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54DACVq51_A. Its pretty interesting and entertaining and the build of the actual wheel is a little different to the one you've posted. If nothing else, I hope it gives you an idea of how to get the background looking good. When I was thinking of building one I considered using bicycle wheels; they are already round, have bearings, fit an axle, are light the only problem is I never figured out how to attach the actual "set" to them. Now thinking about it, the bearings would only really be helpful on a large, heavy set, on a smaller one the bearings may actually be a hindrance when trying to get the set to stay still for each frame. Oh well, good luck!


Thanks for sharing that Jack.  It gives a nice view of the working parts of that set.


Jack Spiggle said:

I doubt this will be of much help but if you haven't stumbled across it already heres a video of one in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54DACVq51_A. Its pretty interesting and entertaining and the build of the actual wheel is a little different to the one you've posted. If nothing else, I hope it gives you an idea of how to get the background looking good. When I was thinking of building one I considered using bicycle wheels; they are already round, have bearings, fit an axle, are light the only problem is I never figured out how to attach the actual "set" to them. Now thinking about it, the bearings would only really be helpful on a large, heavy set, on a smaller one the bearings may actually be a hindrance when trying to get the set to stay still for each frame. Oh well, good luck!


Thanks Nick.  I will make sure to upload the progress shots.  I appreciate the feedback.


StopmoNick said:

Cool - hope you share pics of the making of it, and the finished result!

The photo, with the view of the plywood octagon on the end, pretty well explains it.  I would probably go with disks rather than octagons, but I suppose you could get a bigger piece out of a sheet of ply this way.  I'd be tempted to cut half-circles of ply, and join them, to get an even bigger diameter.  But with the trees sticking out, this one couldn't really be any closer to the ground or they would scrape it, so maybe that's a big as you would want to go.  It's already pretty high up.

The angles at one end seem to be offset with the angles at the other end, interesting.   You still get some angles in the road surface though.   If a model car was travelling along it, the middle might scrape the ground as it goes over the bump.  For that reason a smoother curve would be best.  

I haven't made one, thought about it a couple of times.  I built a similar (but smaller) rotating drum to cast a ripple pattern of shadows on a set to create the impression there was light reflecting off water once.  I had marks around the edge of the disc to measure the amount I turned it each frame.  I had a length of dowel for the axle, plus 2 bits of pine around the edges of the discs to join them together.  Then you could staple card around that.  Or chicken wire if you wanted to make the ground more irregular.

It looks as if the whole thing is rotated by a geared motor. Possibly a stepper motor driven from Dragonframe or similar.


I'm not familiar with motors, if I did go that route, do you have any advice on which motor to get?  Would I need dragon's fancy box to connect the two?  Possibly an arduino with dragon's code?


Kit said:

It looks as if the whole thing is rotated by a geared motor. Possibly a stepper motor driven from Dragonframe or similar.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkBLOFtyFqY Great video on how to setup a motion control system with dragon frame. As far as I know all you need is an arduino, a stepper motor and a stepper motor driver (as well as staples like a power source, wire, solder, a heatsink if your overworking your stepper driver etc). I haven't personally played around with df moco yet but I do have a basic understanding of electronics so If you have any questions I'd be glad to help (though I'm sure there are many others on here who are much more qualified and would be just as willing to help). Like the guy in the video said, he used an arduino mega for the ability to control 8 steppers but I'm pretty sure you could get away with an uno (or even a nano if you only need one or two degrees of freedom). As for what type of motor I'm afraid I can't be of much help. You definitely need a stepper motor and I'm assuming you would want one with a decent amount of holding torque. Fortunately for you, most stepper motors that you would be looking at buying would probably have a fairly substantial information spreadsheet available online with all the info you need (torque, supply voltage, amp draw etc).


Thanks Jack. The video made it look pretty straight forward. I haven't done much with electronics.  Nothing more than rc cars.  I am sure I will be asking for advice on that soon.  

Jack Spiggle said:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkBLOFtyFqY Great video on how to setup a motion control system with dragon frame. As far as I know all you need is an arduino, a stepper motor and a stepper motor driver (as well as staples like a power source, wire, solder, a heatsink if your overworking your stepper driver etc). I haven't personally played around with df moco yet but I do have a basic understanding of electronics so If you have any questions I'd be glad to help (though I'm sure there are many others on here who are much more qualified and would be just as willing to help). Like the guy in the video said, he used an arduino mega for the ability to control 8 steppers but I'm pretty sure you could get away with an uno (or even a nano if you only need one or two degrees of freedom). As for what type of motor I'm afraid I can't be of much help. You definitely need a stepper motor and I'm assuming you would want one with a decent amount of holding torque. Fortunately for you, most stepper motors that you would be looking at buying would probably have a fairly substantial information spreadsheet available online with all the info you need (torque, supply voltage, amp draw etc).

That Clay Kids video is a great example!  The background hills work well with the drum. I see that there are holes in the disks at the ends which are big enough to get your hand in to tighten up a tiedown, which could be handy.

A motor drive would be nice, but not essential.  Depends on whether this is a one-off, or something you will use a lot.  I've used a stepper motor driven track which was really helpful, it saved me squatting down to floor level to move the track by hand, which can be a big deal over 300 frames.  (At least if you are unfit like I am.)  But something like the drum that you can move standing up is not so bad.  I would do without bearings so the friction helps to hold it steady - but if it had a lot of weight concentrated on one side, it would probably need some kind of lock or brake that holds it.  I tend to use things I have lying around, like spring clamps, for that sort of thing.

If you want to go down the motor-driven route, that video has everything you need to get going. I'd go for a motor with a gearbox or a pulley system to gear it down.

For anybody wanting to learn more about using motion control systems with Dragonfram etc. head over to Timescapes.org. This website has a fantastic forum which has built up over several years. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere and the regular contributors are always willing to offer help and advice to newcomers.

For a one-off project I'd agree with Nick, go manual, but I would use good bearings to make the movement smooth. This will make it easier to move the drum by an exact amount and then clamp it in place.

This is a great Nema 23 stepper motor + 30:1 gearbox available on ebay: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/New-Rino-Ondrives-Worm-Gear-Reducer-30-1-Vex...

I bought 4 of these. I'm in the process of converting 2 into a pan/tilt head, and planning on using the other 2 for set/light movers. Very robust motors. 

Thanks everyone for the info.  I am putting together some designs and trying to decide which methods to use.  I will try and post the progress.

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