Project3 (4-5 Axis Robot, In progress)

I will keep this page updated as I work on the system. This page may change several times a week, I will try to just add updates but sometimes to keep it clean I will need to rewrite portions.


Goals and Requirements for Project3

1) Under $500 build price (parts only, not including shipping)
2) 4 Axis of motion. Pan/Tilt/Slide/Focus
3) Dragonframe compatible. (this will also work with any system that can drive stepper motors)
4) Capable of meeting/exceeding the studio performance of $2500+ Moco systems
5) Constructed using no expensive specialized equipment. This means no CNC routers or mills, no 3D printers, etc. This must be able to be assembled with regular hand tools, and common garage tools to include a basic drill press, miter saw with aluminum blade, soldering iron, and a Tap + Die kit.

Related Posts specific Project3

Part 1 (8/3/2017)
Part 2 (8/12/2017)


Parts List (Updated 8/4/2017)

If you are following this project and considering following this build and constructing your own, keep in mind until this project is finished ANY of these parts can be subject to change. I might find that the $44 motor is not adequate and have to bit the bullet and buy another motor, or the $89 linear slide may turn out to be a total piece of shit and I might have to go another route. So until this project is finished, buy at your own risk.

Pan Tilt Head
1×2 Inch rectangle tubing (3 feet)
$6.66 (sale) 
1/2″ ID x 1 1/8″ OD Flanged Ball Bearing (2 pack).  $2.99 (x2)
Clamping Hubs, 0.770″ Pattern  $5.99 (x4)
1/2″ Aluminum shafting (2 inch) Two inch shafts $1.99 (x2)
Shafting and Tubing Spacers (12 pack)  $1.99 (x1)
Motor Mount – Swivel Clamp (37mm) $5.99 (x2)
Motor Mount – Swivel Mount $3.99 (x2)
Nema 17 Stepper Motor Bipolar w/ Gear Ratio 27:1  $25.05 (x2)


Lens  Gear 13.94
Small Gear (x2) $7.63
Large Gear (x2)  11.28
Belt (x2) 7.63

Screws 6-32 button head, 3/8inch inch (x4)

Focus Motor Assembly
Nema 8 Stepper Motor Bipolar w/ Gear Ratio 19:1 $44.05
Motor Mount – Swivel Clamp (22mm) $5.99 (x1)
Motor Mount – Swivel Mount $3.99 (x1)
Aluminum Motor Mount B  $5.99 (1)
Hose Clamp $3.66 (1)

Linear Slide
1204 Ball Screw CNC Linear Slide Stroke 400MM Long Stage Actuator Stepper Motor $

Biolapse Dragonframe Interface Unit (Click for Info)
Arduino Mega Clone $14.99
a4988 Motor drivers $6.59
Biolapse Dragonframe Arduino Shield (Price To be determined)


Current Total $354.90
Remaining :  $145.10

Update 8/4/2017
I ordered the first round of parts today. I moved from using a near complete Actobotics system to using a mix of Actobotics and raw materials. The large reason I deviated was due to the cost. By moving to some raw materials and doing my own cutting and drilling, I can knock the material costs down about 40%, without adding a whole lot of work, and still no expensive equipment required.

I will hold off on ordering any further new parts until these come in.  This should provide the L frame, the rotational axis portions, and the motor mounts. Once these arrive and are worked and fitted I will make the decision on the next parts.

I am feeling pretty good though, about 60% of the budget spent, and this already covers the motors, the frame, the linear slide, the focus system, BDIU and such. This is a majority of the expensive parts.

What is left is the pulleys, gears, belts, and extra parts that will be required to attach Part As to Part Bs.


Linear Slide. 8/4/2017
I went ahead and bought the rail I have been looking at. It is similar in style to the Chronos rails Kyle and I used to sell, and at $89.99 its actually quite a bargain. The Pan Tilt will mount directly to the carriage. The rail is pretty short, only 500mm, just under 20 Inches in length.  The total travel is 400mm, which is right around 15.75 inches.
At this moment many of you are probably wondering why I would chose such a short rail. Basically, long rails just suck for this kind of work. Ive never understood the need for a 6 foot rail. I have used a 1000mm rail for this work, and STILL found it to be too big and bulky.  I have a Chronos Lite Micro rail on Lil’ Wayne and generally never move the camera more than 10-12 inches. So 15.75 inches of travel on this one is perfect.