I think I've got my laser-cut winder design just about locked in; I've cleaned up and streamlined the design a bit since I last posted about it in this thread.  I've tweaked the internal structure so it doesn't rely on washers to properly fit a 1/4" rack, the control knob is fastened directly to the gear (much more secure than relying on the gear's bond to the shaft), and all the T nuts are replaced with these nifty heat-set inserts that go in much easier, neater, and more securely.  Right now I'm just using M4 threaded inserts (because that's what I'm using for my puppet rig) but it shouldn't be too hard to tweak the design for other sizes.  I'm looking at getting a larger diameter knob for better control, and maybe playing with a bearing insert as well, but at this stage it's pretty solidly usable.  

My animation setup is tied up with another shot right now, but I should have that freed up in a couple of days to shoot a quick shot showing the rig in action.

Control knob and top-side rig inserts

Lock knob and side rig inserts

I'd like to make these available for sale (given how useful they are, they're weirdly difficult to get a hold of), but I want to really make sure the design is solid first.  Is anyone interested in beta-testing?  I'd be happy to send out a few at shipping cost if I could get some notes back on how it goes, and if their usability is lacking anywhere.

Any interested beta-testers, shoot me a ping at tdnicol+winder@gmail.com, and let's talk!

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Hey, that's looking really nice! I guess the threaded brass inserts are for attaching it to an upright post that's then screwed down to the set floor? 

The threaded inserts are actually for running out a rod to attach to the puppet (can post a pic when I get home later). I've been suspending the rack with a C-stand, and moving the puppet with the winder itself -- I know it's often the other way around, but for now it's easier to build a winder that interfaces with the puppet rig than to modify the steel rack to attach.
Actually, I have a still in Dropbox I can post now -- example use mounted overhead. https://www.dropbox.com/s/eh77mbfpd3b73sa/feed_001_07_X1_0001.jpg?dl=0

Looks really good. I am just building a new studio at the moment, so can't offer to test, but what sort of price would you be selling them for?

Depends if anything comes out of testing that requires a major change in the parts list, and how streamlined I can get the assembly process, but I'm aiming to keep them down in the $50-$75 range if I can.

A very neat design!

What is the toothed strip made of - aluminium?  Nylon?  How rigid is it?  

I can see this being used both for camera tracking and puppet moving.  I have a camera track that uses a threaded rod, but I can always use more puppet movers.  I set something up last week where a device to raise and lower a spinning rock would have come in handy, and I couldn't find the small winder I used to have.  I settled for something I lifted by hand, and locked off with a clamp in each position.  There should be a market for these.

The rack is steel; aluminum would probably work too, but I don't know where to get that.  It's pretty solid; I got a 4 ft length I used on a run cycle, and a 2 ft length for more contained scenes; there's a tiny bit of flex in the middle of the longer piece, but it wasn't too bad.  The winder design I'm working with right now is probably too small for mounting a camera, but it's been a huge bonus for puppet stuff.

Here's the run cycle (the background jumps a bit, but the goal was to have the puppet loop) -- I panned the camera a specific interval each frame, then used the winder to line up her body in the same frame-space.  (Rig is roughly masked out, except for the bit crossing the puppet -- I linked to a shot of the setup above)



This is the shot I was working on this weekend -- I ended up running the 2 ft length over the set from above the camera and using the winder to control her Z axis motion.  It was especially handy when she was leaning over, to help correct her body placement after positioning the head and hand, and then for the smooth stand back at the very end.

nice animation and well done rig

Yeah, really sweet animation! Looks like Justin's lessons are paying off.

Whoa... Some how i missed your post in my thread, I'd totally beta test these bad boys... 

Cool! Shoot me an e-mail and we can get details nailed down.

Used it on another shot this weekend, controlling vertical motion this time (on the leap, and the flying piece of cheese).  The leap would have been a lot easier with two hooked up to control both vertical and horizontal motion but I made do sliding the c-stand clamp for horizontal motion (laser cutter's cooling system went down last week, so I've only been able to cut the testing models to send out so far).

That looks absolutely fantastic! Well done.

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