DIY Motorised Camera Slider With Object Tracking

I’ve been wanting to build a motorised camera slider for a while now, so when some popped into my Amazon suggestions a week or two ago, it re-ignited the urge to build one.

So, in this guide, I’m going to be showing you how to build your own motorised camera slider which can pan, rotate and track objects for some really cool shots. It’s driven by an Arduino Pro Mini and some TMC2208 stepper motor drivers and can lift a mirrorless camera like the M50 vertically or in any other angle or orientation, even upside down.

Camera Slider Lift Camera Vertically

Here’s a video of the build and the slider in operation, read on for the step by step instructions:

What You Need To Build Your Own Camera Slider

There are quite a few parts to this build, but it isn’t actually that difficult to make. So don’t let the parts list intimidate you!

Parts From Amazon (Affiliate)

There are also a number of 3D Printed parts in this guide. I’ve used a Creality Ender 3 Pro to print my parts. If you don’t have a 3D printer, there are a number of online 3D printing services available to print and deliver your parts as well.

Parts from Banggood (Affiliate)

How To Make The Motorised Camera Slider

We’re going to build the camera slider in three stages. We’ll first assemble the extrusion mounted mechanical slider components and motors, then assemble the PCB and electronics case, and finally program the slider to perform our movements.

Assembling The Mechanical Slider

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to make sliding rigs is to use aluminium t-slot extrustions. These are widely used on 3D printers, laser cutters and other hobbiest CNC machines, so they’re pretty inexpensive and come in a range of sizes and lengths. They’re really useful for mounting components, you can buy special t-slot nuts which fit into the groves to clamp brackets and mounting plates onto.

Aluminium TSlot Extrusion

I picked out a 2040 extrusion and then a basic mount for the stepper motor, a sliding gantry, a belt tensioner and then the belt and pulley. I also picked up a ball joint camera mount so that I could position the camera at different angles.

Extrusion Components

If you don’t want to build a motorised slider and you’re happy to move your camera along the slider yourself, then you don’t even need the motor mount or the tensioner, just the extrusion and the gantry. An un-powered slider is just as useful to get some great footage, you just need a bit more effort and patience to get the shots.

I installed the components onto the extrusion, along with two stepper motors which I salvaged from an old 3D printer. These are just standard Nema 17 stepper motors with around 1-2A coils. I designed and 3D printed a basic housing for the motor as well as an adaptor for the camera mount and some belt clamps.

3D Printed Motor Mount & Adaptor

The motor mount is just screwed onto one end of the aluminium extrusion using some M5 button head screws and t-slot nuts and the pan motor is then mounted onto this mount with the motor shaft facing towards the extrusion and positioned in line with the top pair of side slots.

I then secured the pulley onto the motor shaft with the teeth lined up with the centre of the top slot.

Install Motor Onto Mount

Put the second motor into the 3D printed housing, securing it to the top cover plate with M3x8mm button head screws and close it up with some more M3x8mm button head screws.

Install Motors Into Housing

Screw the ball joint camera mount onto the 3D printed adaptor using some M4 button head screws and then secure this on the shaft with an M3x15mm cap screw.

Install Adaptor Onto Ball Joint Mount

You can then slide the rotation motor and gantry onto the aluminium extrusion and finish off the end by adding the belt tensioner, again using M5 button head screws and some t-slot nuts.

The “tightness” of the gantry can be adjusted using the nuts on the underside of one pair of wheels. These nuts move the wheel supports closer or further away from the slot, which tightens the grip on the slot. The gantry should be firm, without and rattling when moving, but shouldn’t be difficult to move along the guides.

Add Tensioner Onto TSlot Extrusion

Next I needed some legs to stand the slider onto, I also designed these along with a shoe for my tripod and then 3D printed them in black PLA to match the colour of the aluminium extrusion and the motor mount.

Designing Legs For Extrusion

I 3D printed all of my components using Black PLA with a 15% infill.

Once the legs were printed, I installed them on each end of the slider using two M5 button head screws and t-slot nuts on each.

Install Legs On Slider

Remember to put your tripod mount onto your extrusion (if necessary) before the second leg as this closes up the entry to the slot, so you won’t be able to get the nuts into place.

Add Tripod Mount To Underside Of Slider

Then add the second set of legs.

Add Second Set Of Legs

Once your legs have been added, you just need to add the belt from the motor to the gantry. Start on one side of the gantry, folding the belt over itself and securing it with a 3D printed clamp, then feed the belt around the motor, through the middle of the extrusion, around the tensioner and back to the opposite side of the gantry. The belt should be trimmed to length so that there is about 3-4cm of overlap near the gantry.

Install Belt Onto Motor And Tensioner

The belt needs to be pulled finger tight (with the tensioner completely loose) and you can then tension the belt by tightening the tensioning screw.

Adjust To Tension Belt

We’ve now got the basic slider together with our two stepper motors, so we need a way to get them moving.

Camera Motor Mount

Designing And Assembling The Electronics

To control the camera slider I’m going to use an Arduino pro mini. The Arduino will drive the motors using two silent TMC2208 stepper motor drivers. We also need a way to input the parameters for each movement, so I added an OLED display and a rotatary pushbutton.

Testing The Electronic Components

I set up a basic layout of my components on a breadboard first.

Electronic Components Layed Out On Breadboard

This was done to test that I had made the right connections and that the components all worked properly with the Arduino. I didn’t bother with both stepper motor drivers, if the one worked properly then the other one would too.

Wiring Connections Made On Breadboard
Temporary Wiring Connections

Designing The Circuit And PCB

Once I was happy with the connections to the electronic components, I drew up the circuit and a PCB to mount the components onto.

Camera Slider Schematic

You don’t have to use a PCB, you can mount your components onto a breadboard, but a PCB makes a stronger and more reliable build, especially for something that you’ll be moving around a lot.

Designing The PCB Layout

I got my PCBs made by PCB Way. They literally had them made and shipped out to me in 24 hours, which was quite impressive.

PCBs As Delivered From PCB Way

They did send me these PCBs for this project for free, but you can order your own PCBs from them from just $5 for 10 basic two layer boards. They’re really good quality and they also have a couple of different colour options, so you can really customize your projects.

Completed PCBs Brom PCB Way

Assembling The PCB

I then soldered the components and header pin connectors onto the PCB. I used a header pin connector for the display as well as I was planning on mounting it directly onto the case and having a short ribbon cable to the pins.

All Components Soldered Onto PCBs

I put the heat sinks onto both TMC2208 motor drivers, soldered the pins onto the display and Arduino and then pushed them into the sockets on the board.

You’ll also notice that there is a small jumper on the top right of the board, just above the motor drivers. This jumper selected between having the motors always energised (can be moved by hand) and energised on command by the Arduino i.e. the Arduino can enable or disable the motors. My code makes use of the drive enable function using the Arduino to control them.

Components Mounted

Making The Electronics Case

I then sketched the PCB into my CAD model and designed a case to house it and mount onto my slider.

Designing A Case To House The PCB

I 3D printed the case components again using Black PLA and a 15% infill.

3D Printed Case From Black PLA With 15% Infill
3D Printed Case Components

I installed the PCB into the case, holding it in place with some M3x3mm button head screws. My display is still shown plugged into the header pins here, it was removed for the next steps.

Installed PCB Into Case

I then made up a short power lead to a 5.5mm barrel plug socket (the same one used on the Arduino UNO) to mount onto the side.

I mounted to case onto the slider using some M5 button head screws and t-slot nuts.

Add Power Cable And Mount To Slider

I put a switch onto the PCB to use if you’d like to, but I prefer just having it on when its plugged in and off when its not. A switch is useful if you’re powering it from a battery pack or your’ve got it set up somewhere permanently. If you want to use the switch then you’ll need to modify the case so that it’s accessible through the side.

I connected my motors to the PCB ports alongside each driver and put the wires into some braided sleeving to keep it neat.

Programming The Camera Slider

With that all done, it was time to tackle the programming, which was a bit more of a project than I had anticipated.

Making menus with these rotary pushbuttons is a really neat way to input information with a single device, but you land up having to do quite a lot of coding to make up for it.

Rotary Pushbutton To Input Data

I got the pan and rotate functions working quite quickly and then came the object tracking. I simplistically, or rather stupidly, initially thought this was easy. The camera moves from A to B and rotates through a bit less than 120 degrees, so just divide up the movement and rotation and it’ll work perfectly.

Except that thats not how it works at all.

In order for the camera to stay fixed on an object, it needs to move slowly in the begining, quite quickly in the middle and then slow down at the end again. There’s a bit of trigonometry involved in getting the camera to follow the object properly.

Object Tracking Code

At least I had now realised what I had done wrong and could fix it, so after another few hours of coding, it was finally working.

Here’s my final version of the code. I usually go through the code in some detail for each project, but this project’s code is quite lengthy. I have added quite a few comments in the code to help you follow through it.

I have started a GitHub repository for the code if you’d like to share your adaptations and improvements. Some adaptations have been shared below as well.

Code Variations

Our community has also helped out with some useful additions to the code. Here are some of the modified versions. Note that I haven’t tested these versions of the code.

Limit Switch Inclusions by Paul Bartlett

Paul has added micro-switches to the two ends of the rail to act as limit switches to stop the motor. He has also added a short routine to move the motor back a little at the ends of travel to release the switches and added a routine to automatically home the gantry after running a movement.

Use A 1.3″ Display by Tony Tren

Tony has modified the code to work with the 1.3″ OLED display.

Closing Up The Case

Once I had programmed the Arduino, I closed up the case using four M3x8mm screws and then pushed the knob onto the rotary encoder.

Install Cover Onto Case

The motorised camera slider was now ready to be used.

Completed Camera Slider Ca

Using The Camera Slider

When you first put power onto the Arduino, a splash screen is briefly displayed.

Startup Splash Screen

You’re then presented with the main menu, which allows you to choose from four options – pan, rotate, pan and rotate and object tracking mode.

Camera Slider Main Menu

The options are selected by rotating the encoder and are selected by pressing the encoder. Once a mode is selected, a parameter input screen allows you to input the distance, angles, timing and directions for each movement.

Camera Slider Input Menu

Once all of the parameters have been input, you push the encoder button to start the movement and it then enables the motors and runs. The drivers then remain enabled at the end of the movement until you push the button again to release them. This is to ensure that the camera isn’t suddenly dropped once the movement is complete.

Camera Slider Object Tracking

The camera slider works pretty well, staying fixed on the object from one side to the other. There is one limitation in that you need to know the pan distance and the distance to the object quite accurately, otherwise you land up slightly over or under rotating the camera. This isn’t a big issue but it does mean that its difficult to keep the object exactly in the centre of the frame without getting a ruler out each time. I’ll probably look at designing an interface to a Raspberry Pi in future so that I can run TensorFlow to do real-time object tracking. This should give more reliable results without any measurements.

Camera Slider Mounted Onto Tripod To Work In Any Orientation

The TMC motor drivers were a great choice for this build as they are really smooth and quiet, so you bearly notice them running.

Opposite End Of Camera Slider

As always, let me know what you think of this motorised camera slider in the comments section and let me know what you would do differently. But most importantly, enjoy building your own!

Community Builds

Andrew Campbell has shared his camera slider build with some neat modifications, including adding the limit switches by Paul. Have a look in the comments section for his feedback and thoughts on the project.

Andrew Campbell Camera Slider
Andrew Campbell Camera Slider 2
Andrew Campbell Camera Slider 3

Michael Klements
Hi, my name is Michael and I started this blog in 2016 to share my DIY journey with you. I love tinkering with electronics, making, fixing, and building - I'm always looking for new projects and exciting DIY ideas. If you do too, grab a cup of coffee and settle in, I'm happy to have you here.

109 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Fred. I’ve updated the schematic with a better resolution copy, it’ll also load a larger image if you click on the image to open it in a new page.

  1. Michael, very nice. I do have a question though. I am a member of Instructables which is where I ran across your build. About a year ago someone built something similar except it was for focus stacking macro photos. It would start at the nearest focus point of an object, take a photo, move the camera a little closer & take a photo, move a little more, take a photo, etc. until you had a series of macro shots with all points being in focus & then merge the images. Do you think something like this could be programmed into your Arduino slider?

    • Hi Gregory,
      What you’re describing sounds like it would be quite easy to program. I built a lightning photography tool a while ago which uses an optocoupler to trigger a physical input on an older Canon camera. I guess you’d have to try and set up a Wifi trigger or put an optocoupler onto a remote trigger to trigger modern DSLR’s shutters. But this is certainly something that could be done quite easily with an Arduino.
      Is there a reason why (or benefit to) you would move the camera between shots rather than automate the turning of the focus ring on the camera rather?

      • Hi Michael,
        Here’s the Instructable that I mentioned.
        https://www.instructables.com/Automated-Macro-Focus-Rail/#discuss
        Dtrewren, the author, didn’t use an Arduino or any off the shelf microcontroller but cobbled his own together. I’ve played around with Arduinos so I know a little bit about them. He used a stepper to turn a lead screw instead of a cogged belt. I have two 3D printers so I think the small movement of the camera needed would work with your belt system. He also triggers the camera to take an exposure with his microcontroller.
        Take a look and let me know what you think.

        • I’ve had a look at his Instructable, this has given me a better idea of the setup. I’d still be interested to know why moving the camera is better than adjusting the focus. This might just be my misunderstanding of the intention behind the rig or the photography technique.
          The author has just used a pic chip, which in essence is just the core of an Arduino. But what you’re wanting to do is perfectly do-able with an Arduino. A leadscrew like he has used will give you higher precision, but you can get similar results using a belt and a small pulley on the motor shaft.
          His trigger is similar to what I’ve built with an Arduino for photographing lightning. This is easier to do when the camera has a manual (plug in) remote trigger. Some cameras don’t have this facility and have moved this function over to WiFi. This is more difficult to get working with an Arduino and varies by camera model.

  2. Hi Michael,
    thanks for sharing this great project. I build up the electronics and so far everything works perfectly. The parts for the mechanical part of the project will arrive soon and I am pretty convinced that everything will go well 🙂

    Nevertheless I have some questions:

    1. The input voltage is 6-12 Volts according to the PCB. How can this be, as the Arduino is only 5V. Wouldn’t it be fried with 12V?

    2. The 0.96″ display is pretty small and therefore I tried to change the code to SH1106 (1.3″) displays, but I greatly failed 😉
    Can you please give some hints on how to change the code to work with SH1106 displays?

    3. I have 8 PCBs left over from my order at PCB Way. If someone from Europe is interested in getting one or more PCBs, may you help with getting in contact?

    • Hi Joerg,
      That’s great, hope it all goes well for you! To try answer your questions:
      1) The 5V referred to is the Arduino’s Vcc circuit, it can accept an input voltage of 5-12V as it has an onboard regulator.
      2) I’ve never used an SH1106 display, so I don’t have much experience with them. You’d probably just need to find a compatible library (possibly this one – https://github.com/wonho-maker/Adafruit_SH1106) and then you’d need to change the initial lines of code which refer to the SSD1306 display. If you use an Adafruit library like this then it looks like the notation is pretty similar, so you probably wouldn’t need to modify all lines of the code which display something. You’ll also likely need to change the font sizes and cursor positions for each text line to get them laid out correctly.
      3) I think if anyone from Europe is interested in getting them off you then they can comment here to get into contact with you. Unless you’ve got another idea?
      Good luck with your build and let me know how it goes with the larger display!

      • Hi Michael,

        thanks for your detailed reply – much appreciated.

        Good to know that there is an onboard regulator – now the input voltage range makes sense 😉

        Regarding #2: That’s what I actually tried to do. Including the Adafruit library and changing the code where it is necessary, but it didn’t work. I can give it another try and post the compiling errors here if you like. May be we can get it running together?

        Regarding#3: Yes sure, if somebody is interested in PCBs they can comment here. My initial idea was to setup a certain email address for it, but just writing a comment here is fine for me.

        Cheers,
        Joerg

        • Hi Joerg,
          No problem at all.
          Regarding #2, if the code is not compiling then you’ve got some syntax errors or your code is trying to use features of the old library that aren’t in the new library. The error usually shows you which lines these are in, so they should be quite easy to find and correct. I don’t mind helping out with any specific ones you’ve got an issue with.
          Regarding #3, you’re welcome to share an email address here as well if you’d like. It’ll probably get quite a lot of spam though!

          • Hi Michael,

            sorry for the late reply. In the meantime all missing parts arrived and I was able to make lot of test shots. Therefore I dropped the idea to change the code to run with a 1.3″ display as there are a lot of more important problems at the moment:
            First of all: The slider does not work with a DSLR (EOS 6D in my case) properly as the camera is too heavy. It works in horizontal mode, but there are too much vibrations/wobbling. So the footage is useless.
            I tried with a smaller camera, but there are still some micro vibrations.
            Vertical, or even slightly angled mode is impossible as the rotate motor doesn’t keep the camera in place. This may be related to problem #2:

            The system does not work with a voltage higher than 5V. If I connect it to 9V or 12V the dispay stays black and the Arduino gets hot. After a couple of minutes the Arduino is dead. With 5V everything works as expected.

            May be I will give it another try after purchasing a less heavy camera, but for now I stopped testing it.

            Just to give something back: I designed a new motor/ball head adapter in order to work with a center screw (1/4″) in the ball head plus a new knob which fits a little bit better on the pushbutton. Are you interested in the STL files, or shall I put it on Thingiverse?

  3. I have seen your project in instructables and I have started to assemble it. I have already managed to start it with a 1.3 “screen although I have not managed to make your logo look correctly, but the rest of the program does work, I have even translated it into Spanish (my English is bad).
    It would be great if you could incorporate a long press to stop the movement, sometimes it is necessary to stop it to avoid a problem.
    Thank you very much for your work and congratulations.

    • The jumper selects between allowing your Arduino to enable/disable the motor drivers or just having the drivers permanently enabled when the board is powered. The drives being enabled means that the motors are held in place or “locked” and can’t be turned by hand.

      • Hi Michael,
        That’s brilliant thank you. I have built the slider and it works really well. I’ve added limit microswitches at each end and the relevant code to stop movement when triggered. I also had to add a little routine to move the mount back just a fraction after the limit switches were triggered to release them. I have also added a menu item for ‘Homing the Slider’.

        • Hi Paul,
          Those sound like great additions! Would you be willing to share some photos and perhaps your revised code for me to share at the end of the post (with credit to you obviously)?

          • Hi Michael,
            May not be perfect coding but here goes:- *code moved to body of post under Code Variations

          • Thanks for sharing your code Paul, I’ve moved it to a downloadable file in the main body of the post.

      • Hi Chris, If you look at my code, I have added microswitches to D10 and D11. They are pulled high until the camera mount nudges the switch which then pulls them low stopping the travel. We then have to do a little step in the opposite direction to release the microswitch, otherwise it will remain triggered and stop the next movement.
        Hope this helps.

        • Hello, let me ask a little, you declare encHighLim = 4 instead of encHighLim = 3 like Michael Klements. Does this have any effect?

        • Hi Paul, your fork is a really good improvement to the project. It would be so handy if you were able to post the working code somewhere online where it could be copied, e.g. GitHub. I appreciate that’s maybe not practicable, in which case… could you add my email to Duythi’s email too please! My email is js361873 at googlemail.com. (I spent an hour working through it on my Mac, substituting the formatting changes caused by translation and then ran into substantive issues with it, e.g. some of the pin B and pin A code was missing. My guess is something funny happened to it when it posted here.) Thanks, Andrew

  4. Hello Michael,
    I am quite new to Arduino projects but have enjoyed creating a number of projects several of which include Stepper motors. I came across the TMC2208
    driver recently and ordered several from Banggood. My main problem is, that
    nowhere can I find any simple code for the Arduino. All I want to do is to control one stepper motor backwards and forwards, and perhaps alter the speed.
    Most of the information I come across is for 3D printers and I’m not into those, at 82 I’m too old to take in all that technical stuff. Some simple code and a simple diagram showing how to wire up the TMC2208 would also be a great help.
    If you could help I would be extremely grateful, your my only hope.

      • Hello Paul, could you publish the new code, I think the same thing happened as with my publication, the compiler has errors and it is not possible to execute it.
        Thanks

    • Hi Les,
      I’ll have a look at writing up a guide for using the TMC2208 drivers with an Arduino. In principle, it’s quite easy. Follow the schematic for the camera slider, it’s got the two TMC2208 hookups shown. The only thing you might want to change is to just tie the EN pin to GND rather than have a jumper. The programming is exactly as you’d do for the A4988s, you set DIR high or low to set the direction and then pulse the STEP pin to step the motor one step at a time.

  5. Someone was trying to use the oled 1.3 screen “I leave the modified code that I am using that screen. Greetings.
    *code moved to body of post under Code Variations

      • Thank you Michael,
        But there are some problems when publishing the code, I have checked this in my code and it also happens in Paul’s.
        When passing to code many errors appear, for example:
        display.print (F (“>”));
        appears published as
        Serial.print (& quot; Interval: & quot;);
        but there are many more similar.
        Maybe there is some way to send you the code in arduino format to avoid these errors?

        • Hi Tony,
          Thanks for picking that up. I had noticed that the imports had been stripped, but didn’t notice the text as well. Could you email your original version of the code to – admin(at)the-diy-life.com

    • Yes, you could use an Uno and a shield. You’d probably need to modify the code as it’s unlikely that the shield would use the same pin numbers for the drivers.

  6. Hi Mike

    Lovely project, this. I’ve been looking for a build like this to make for a friend who does filming for a living and want something that’s super quiet – this is perfect. Just wish I’d stumbled across it before I’d printed out all the bits for the adafruit mk 3 camera slider…

    I have a couple of daft questions though, if you don’t mind:
    (1) The stepper motor you’ve linked to is rated at 2.5A (torquey!) but the drivers are rated for 1.4A max, peak 2A. Are you running the drivers at peak or have you reduced the current being drawn (or do the motors have to be going full pelt to get anywhere 2.5A, which they presumably won’t be in this application)?
    (2) Are you powering it using a mains 12v adapter, presumably rated for 5A to handle full current through the drivers plus powering the Arduino? I.e. this is always going to need mains power.

    Thanks
    Andrew

    • Hi Andrew,
      That’s great! Yeah, this slider is quite a bit simpler to make, although it does have a few more bought out components. To answer your questions:
      1) I’ve got the drivers set to around 1.2A. You could definitely get away with using smaller motors, these are just what I had lying around from a 3D printer. I guess it depends on what your friend would be primarily using the slider for, moving fast and/or moving upwards uses more power. I mostly do relatively slow, horizontal panning movements, so the drivers handle this just fine. You also might want to add a fan to the enclosure if you’re running the drivers near their limit for extended periods of time.
      2) Yes I’m using a 12V 5A mains adaptor. You could probably use a 12V 7Ah lead-acid battery or a 11.1V 3 cell LiPo battery if you’d like to make it portable.
      Best regards,
      Michael

      • Thanks Michael, you aren’t wrong about the Adafruit slider! That thing will survive an apocalypse but it only has 400mm of travel and is really suited to time lapse stuff (in any event, my software skills aren’t up to incorporating your rotating motor into the circuit python build I’m doing of that). So now I’ve got two sliders, each abut 80% done – your BOM is so much simpler and affordable.

        Just on Paul’s remix with the limit switches, am I right in thinking that the switches are just wired from D10/ D11 to ground so that when they close they bring D10/ D11 low?

        Cheers,
        Andrew (PS your Creality printer is clearly better than my Prusa MK3S+ as your case turned out way better than mine)

        • Yes, from the code it seems like Paul’s limit switches are wired to GND and bring the input down to LOW when triggered.

          I would have thought that your Prusa MK3S would produce better quality prints than the Creality Ender 3. Perhaps it’s the orientation in which it was printed?

          • Great, thanks, that was my reading of the code but I don’t trust my software skills. I’ll wire up the switches as NO rather than NC. It turns out that when I flipped the stl file to make it print better I’d only flipped it 179 degrees on Prusaslicer; the reprint worked well, and with a heap of supports I also got the box to print perfectly, thanks. The bevelled edges are still a bit rough, but fitting this around kids means it’s never going to be perfect! Thanks for your help again! Andrew

  7. If I want to play Paul’s code, I get the error “missing terminating ” character” what do I have to do so that I can play the code properly. Don’t know me so well with arduino.

    • Hi Chris, I get the same errors and it looks like something odd has happened with the code. Some characters, like “ and & have translated as words &quot and &amp so those need substituted throughout. I’m still getting errors though from other bits but am working through it. Might be worth doing a comparison of the code and copy and paste across the extra bits of Paul’s code directly into Michael’s. Thanks, Andrew.

  8. Nice project, but you said “tracking”. This project does not track an object. It just keeps pointing to a point in space that is a fixed distance away. I’m looking for a tracking system that like most tracking apps can control a motorized mount (DJI Osmo app for example). Good first step in that direction, though. I am looking to build a full frame with x, Y, z, linear movement plus rotation, where I can place my iphone over a marble run, interactively program where I want the camera to go so I can define the shots, then leave it to active tracking to track the marble as it rolls though the track, adjusting its speed to keep the marble framed.

    • Thanks Chris. Tracking is just the process of locating a moving object over time, which this does. Granted it’s not a form of active tracking which adjusts to external influences or movement of the object as well, which is what you’re after. It sounds like a really interesting project you’re working on. For object detection (like tracking a marble) you should have a look at using something like TensorFlow on a Raspberry Pi or go with a more proprietary device like a HuskyLens or Pixy2 which can be used with an Arduino.

  9. Does anyone have a solution for a mobile battery? I tried it with a power bank 5v 3A. However, the voltage bends in because the current is probably not enough.

  10. Hi Anno, I’m using 12v motors that the drivers will limit to a 1A draw each, so 24W total; plus another 1W for the Arduino. To cover the voltage and current demands I’ll likely have to find some 18650 lithium cells, link them in series and find a charging regulator; should be plenty available online. There might be an off-the-shelf solution around somewhere too but DIY is probably the cheaper way.
    Andrew

    • It might also be worth considering a 7ah 12V lead-acid battery if cost is a concern, they’re just quite a bit bigger and heavier than the 18650s. A more compact solution would be a 3 cell LiPo, but you’d then need a standalone charger and some voltage cutoff protection.

      • I still have an 11.1V lipo from my broken yuneec drone. However, my arduino resigned yesterday when I operated the slider with a 12v power supply.

          • I tried with an adjustable power supply. 11.1 V works great. The current while pan&rotate is about 1A at ~11.1V. I think the slider uses 15-20watt to work fine. For big cameras maybe more. I am charging my lipo 11.1v atm. Then i need only an adapter for my lipo to connect to the slider.

          • These Pro Mini’s seem to be particularly sensitive to overvoltage. I think what’s happening is that if you move the gantry by hand too quickly then you back drive the motor and induce an EMF in the driver circuitry. This then pushes the input voltage up over 12V and this fries the Arduino.

          • I didn’t move the gantry but appear to have fried the regulator on my arduino, it shows 12.4v at RAW but 0.3v at VCC. My 12v power supply was cheap so maybe that extra 0.4v has been too much for the regulator.

            If a new arduino with a more accurate supply ends up fried then I’m going to get a 12v to 3.3v buck converter and power the VCC that way. Won’t look pretty but should do the trick. My drivers are set to take just shy of 1A per motor so it’s not brownout as my power supply is good for 3A.

            I’ve finished the adafruit feather wing slider and when you move the stepper the power light on the driver board lights up but nothing gets fried, but I think the regulator on the feather wing is more robust. BTW, the adafruit slider is very noisy and “steppy” so only good for time lapse really. That’s why I’m persevering with Michael’ design.

  11. Have a look at Yuneec Q500 battery pack. I think with a 3d printed adapter an mount it fits perfectly unter the profile to have an portable solution.

  12. Hi Michael Klements, I’m so excited about your project, it’s awesome, one thing I want to ask is can I extend the slider from 700mm to 1m? and then how the code will change. And another question is how is the wiring diagram if I want to add a limit switch

    • Yes you can, you just need to change the maxTravDist parameter to allow the gantry to travel further. Limit switches should be wired to any of the free digital IO pins the same way a switch or pushbutton would be.

      • Paul’s code, when you upload there are many errors related to spelling, it seems that when uploading the file there was an error.

        • I’m also waiting for an alternative upload of the code. I finished my slider, in addition I changed the housing so that I can install a 6v ni mh battery under the board. The end switches are already installed. Unfortunately, I cannot program myself.

  13. Hi Michael, my question: how much voltage you used on power suply? (Arduino is 5v, it didn’t runs on 12v), and can i used another motor driver ? Or must to be tmc drivers
    Thanks

    • I used 12V. If you’re using my PCB design then you can use any driver with the same pin configuration as the TMC2208s. If not then you can use any stepper motor driver which is able to be driven by an Arduino.

  14. Hi Michael,
    Hope you are doing well.
    Can I use Arduino Uno with same pin config and code?
    Thanks and Regards,
    Akhil Dev

  15. Finally finished this and got it working. Have to say I am well impressed with it Michael, thanks for all your help during the build. Thanks to Paul too for the upgrade with limit switches. It’s super quiet and smooth in operation and looks very professional.

    I had some difficulty with getting it to work but it turned out to be a dead Oled display out of the box, as the code stops early on if the screen isn’t working, The moral is: don’t skimp on a cheap Oled – and don’t solder up a new pcb without checking the display! The clips on the belt were catching the micro switches so I made a small 4mm spacer and problem sorted. I also printed out a few more cable clips to keep the micro switch leads nice and neatly contained in the extrusion. Cheers.

    • Thanks for the great feedback Andrew! The hidden cables for the micro-switches sound like a neat addition to the build.

      If you’ve got some photos to share, I’d love to include them at the end of the post as community builds (with credit to you obviously).

      • Hi Michael, hopefully these photos work ok: https://photos.app.goo.gl/zRdLWE6doaW7YbxH6

        As you’ll see, I didn’t innovate. Using the double extrusion is handy for cable storage; to try and provide some strain relief on those exposed micro switch cables I fed the cabling through the legs of the slider as well. You can just about see the spacer I made for them too in one of the photos; was just a 15mm x 17mm x 4mm spacer in petg with an m5 hole in the middle. With more time I would have devised a wee protective case for the switches with built in strain relief and spacing. I used 2A stepper motors so had to modify the rotate motor box to add a few mm to its height. While I was in tinkercad and doing that I added 2 more screw holes at the base as there were 4 mounting holes in my trolley and I thought it might disperse any twisting forces better than just 2 screws but likely unnecessary. Paul’s code on GitHub worked a treat but this was my first time with arduino and in the end I had to use the online IDE and upload the libraries rather than the desktop IDE – I found my M1 Mac was a bit hit or miss as to whether it uploaded the sketch (something odd with the usb too). So if you have a PC or intel Mac you will likely find that less frustrating. I don’t have any of the stl files anymore am afraid. My friend is freelance and I added his logo to the case to make him look more professional, hope you don’t mind. I’ve started trying to build an arduslider, just for fun; it’s heavy, likely to be less durable and only does sliding so I reckon your design is the best out there and can be easily adapted for bigger trolley/ extrusion combos. Cheers!

        • Thanks for sharing your build and feedback Andrew. It really came out well and looks quite professional! I’ve added some of the photos to the end of the post.

    • I’m not sure what the maximum is, it handles a mirrorless camera like the M50 just fine but would probably struggle with a full frame dslr.

  16. Hello. I built the slider according to your scheme. But my slider is longer. I try to correct maxTravDist in the code, I write, for example, 800, and when I start the slider, it writes “Too Fast”, and the carriage movement does not occur. Immediately the end. What else can I fix in the code?

    • Hi Andrew,
      The slider does a check to see that you’re not asking the motor to move faster than a certain speed for each movement. This is calculated based on the distance to be travelled and the time you’ve set. If you’re making the slider longer then you’ll need to adjust the maximum time as well (maxDur), and ensure that your requested distance and time do not result in a delay interval between pulses that is less than minInterval.

      • hi Michael. I wrote in the firmware: maxTravDist 800, maxDur 3600, minDur 20. When selecting the time, it writes “Too fast” – for any time interval. Help me fix the firmware – I don’t understand anything about programming.

        • Hi Andrew,
          Your duration divded by the maxTravelDistance multiplied by your pulsesPerMM needs to give you a pulse duration that is greater than your minInterval. Looking at your numbers, 800 x 50 = 40,000 as your pulses for your travel distance. Your duration of 3600 divided by 40,000 pulses is an interval of 90 milliseconds. This should be within the minimum interval you’ve set.

          • Hi Michael. If we take your firmware as a basis, we get the following calculations: pulses Per MM=50, max Travel Distance=550, maxDur=1800, minInterval=400. If you calculate it using your formula : 550*50=27500, 1800/27500=0,065 (65 milliseconds). but minInterval=400?! 400>65! What am I doing wrong?

          • What you have written is correct except that the minInterval is in microseconds not milliseconds, so it is actually 65000 > 400 or alternately 65 > 0.4. Using your numbers and keeping a minInterval at 400 microseconds, you should be able to go down to a travel time of around 20 seconds before it starts saying “Too Fast”.

          • Hi, Michael. I apologize for the very large number of questions… I use pulses Per MM=50, max Travel Distance=800, maxDur=1800, minInterval=400. Counting: 800*50=40000, 1800/40000=0,045 (45000 microseconds). 45000>400. Everything meets the condition for successful operation. BUT IT DOESN’T WORK. Writes “Too fast”, I tried to set different time intervals using the encoder-on the “Too fast” screen. The firmware allows you to run the program, but the carriage does not move, and immediately on the screen the inscription “Complete”. Now, through experiments, I have determined that if you choose a path distance of 650 mm, then everything works well, but if the distance is more than 650 (up to 800), then the carriage does not move (“Too fast”). What else can I fix?

          • Hi Andrew, no problem at all, this could be an issue that others experience as well, so it would be good to get it resolved. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to my slider at the moment to test it as I’m away from home for the next few weeks.
            I’ve had a look through the code again and I can’t see a problem with the logic (it also works perfectly for shorter lengths). I’m thinking that there is probably an overflow occurring on one of the variables used in the calculation. The integer variable type can only store numbers up to 32,767, which is fine for the 550 distance but exceeds the limit at 800 (40,000 pulses).
            If you change all of the variable types associated with this calculation from int to float then it should resolve the issue. I’ll have a look at doing this when I’ve got a chance as I’d need to test it again on the rig.

  17. Hi guys! Is only I have this error while uploading Pau’l code like this:
    ‘gt’ was not declared in this scope
    if (millis () – buttonPressTime >= debounceTime) //Debounce button

  18. Nice project good work. Just daft question how you keep the tracking camera steady when the motor not spinning for tracking. Thanks really interesting

    • The drivers “lock” the motor position when they’re enabled, so the rotation motor is held in place even when it’s not being used.

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