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Building a Basic Video Slider with Open Source CNC Parts

This post is part of a series called DIY Photography and Video: Gear, Tips and Tricks.
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A video slider is a device that allows you to mount your camera on moving platform and slide it smoothly in one direction. It's used in all sorts of applications, and offers a stable and portable solution for adding movement to your shots. We'll be building our own slider that features a rugged, simple design.

For the last three or four years, we've been bombarded with all the latest and greatest DSLR sliders to come out. Largely these have fallen into two categories. One is cheap and cheerful, usually a good deal under $200, sometimes under $100, and often based on some felt-pad low-friction design. They work, but not forever, and they can be inconsistent. Then there's the second costing between $600 and $2000 for something that really works well. The trouble is many of us can't justify spending that much on such a specialized tool.

There seems to be fairly limited middle ground that isn't just poor quality versions of good sliders, or beefed up cheap sliders. So what's the alternative? Building one, of course! There are plenty of slider ideas out there. But they mostly revolve around skateboard wheels or felt pads and PVC pipe or electrical conduit. They all look more or less the same and work about equally well with the low end commercial stuff. And, let's be honest, these aren't usually professional in appearance.

In my search for the perfect cheap DIY slider, I found everything failing to meet my expectations. Until I found the open source CNC movement! Appealing to my techie side as well as looking remarkably similar to what I was hoping for without needing all the black spray paint I'd bought, I worked on several designs, iterating the simplicity and price down to a point manageable for pretty much everyone.

Strangely, I could find very few people who'd adapted this hardware to photographic purposes. Perhaps it's a very low-key subgroup of the maker culture. Before the video, here's the parts list. Naturally, adapt it to what you have available:

Parts Available on OpenBuilds

  • 1500mm V-Slot 20x40mm (1)
  • V-Slot Gantry Plate (1)
  • Delrin Dual V Wheel Kit (6)
  • Eccentric Spacers (3)
  • Spacer Block (2)
  • V-Slot Actuator End Mount (2)
  • 6mm Low Profile M5 Screws, 25-pack (1)
  • 40mm Low Profile Screws, 10-pack (1)
  • Tee Nuts, 25-pack (1)

I also needed to pick up a 1/4"-20 x 1" machine screw at a local hardware shop.

Watch the Full Tutorial

If you have a go at something along these lines, I'd encourage you to show us!

Questions? Comments? Hit up the comments below!

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