A fab-able motorised camera slider

v2 slider complete

Fab slider is a simple machine for shooting moving time-lapse videos or panning shots, that anyone can make using tools and materials in most fablabs or makerspaces. All the design files and source code are available here.

It's also a tool for learning: about motors and motion control; 3D design and printing; Arduino programming; the design process, iteration and problem-solving. All my notes from the initial idea through several versions to the current machine are published as part of the project.


Learning Journal

Mostly, this project is about learning. The machine is an excuse, not the end goal. So I've kept pretty exhaustive documentation of all the stages I've been through, mistakes, and all the confusing stuff I've had to figure out.

My goal is to be more systematic in my design process, and to share some of the viewpoint of a beginner, as guides written by experts often assume understanding that beginners don't have.

v.1 Getting started

  1. Why am I doing this, and what am I trying to make?
  2. Prior art
  3. Problems already I know I need to solve

v.1 Design

  1. Main components
  2. Aluminium extrusion rails
  3. Stepper motor
  4. Stepper motor driver
  5. Microcontroller
  6. Power supply
  7. Gantry
  8. Endstops
  9. Everything else

All the 3D parts:

Board design and docs for my A4988 stepper driver Arduino shield:

v.1 Building the machine

  1. Testing the motor and driver
  2. Basic functionality
  3. Building the mechanism

v.1 Software and machine control

  1. Building a state machine
  2. Better debugging with the serial monitor
  3. Understanding the AccelStepper library
  4. Walkthrough of the Arduino sketch

The Arduino code for this version is at:

Also some code for an older, more complex state machine:

v.1 Review

  1. Version 1 – The good, the bad and the ugly

v.2 Design and build

  1. Addressing vibration with a different stepper driver
  2. Designing new stepper driver and controls boards
  3. Designing a new board — again
  4. Electronics housing

Eagle board designs for the v.2 and v.3 shields: /boards/driver-arduino-shield/v2

Electronics housing: /3d-parts/v1/electronics-face-plate

Arduino code: /arduino-code/v2

v.2 Result

  1. Finished — for now