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 DIY Rail and Dolly 
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:28 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sweden
Post DIY Rail and Dolly
Hello again! Im currently building my own rail and dolly system for time lapse use and i thought i could use some feedback on a couple of things. I have scoured the internet for suitable aluminium rails and stuff like and as i dont want to spend like 200$ on just the rail alone i decided to build my own. The idea is to have a portable rigg that i can carry with me when i go hiking and fishing, it might not look that portable but the whole rigg with camera and all is going to land on under 10 kilos and to me that is no big deal to carry on my back.

The rail consists of 38mm 1mm thick steel pipe and 8mm threaded rods for braces. Is completely straight and very stable, i can easily use it as a ladder for my self and i weigh about 85 kilos without it moving. The 85cm test piece weighs about 2.1 kilos.
The next section of the rail will be 150cm and have tapered ends on one side so i can put the test piece on the end making it 235cm long.

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/rls_2.jpg

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/rls_1.jpg

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/rls.jpg

The dolly will be a 30x20x? cm plate and 8 pieces of angle-iron and 8 ball bearings plus some nuts and bolts. I have not begun construction on the dolly yet because i had no rail to model it after but now that i have finished the rail layout im expecting to have it done in a week or two. I have ordered a 4rpm high torque motor that i will mount on the dolly. Im not sure how im going to drive the dolly forward, there is two options for me. One is to attach a wheel to the motor and mount it so the wheel touches the rail directly or i could mount a pulley type wheel and have a string stretched the entire length of the rail and wrapping it around the wheel on the motor? Which do you guys with a little experience think is best?

I have not decided how i will position the bearings and that is what i want feedback on most of all. If i mount them sideways i should be able to have the dolly upside down but it will be a more complex build.

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/ordentligdollyv1.jpg

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/ordentligdollyv2.jpg

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/ordentligdollyv21.jpg

I will power the system with a 12v 2a battery (is 2amps enough?) and a speed controller (basicly a dimmer) that i soldered a couple of days ago that looks like this.

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/controller.jpg

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/controller_1.jpg

and a little video of the controller in action.
http://s56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/slapptasken/?action=view&current=DSCN1174.mp4

Whoa, a lot of text but i hope its okey! It feels good to get it out of my head finaly // Alex


Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:12 am
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Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:35 pm
Posts: 10
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Just a passing thought - with both of your bearings ideas I think there may be a problem.

Both "grip" the rail, so if there is any slight difference in the spacing between the rails from one end to the other, the platform will either rattle at one and or bind at the other. As the spacing between the rails is set according to the accuracy of setting the bolts on the threaded rods, I would imagine it would be near impossible to ensure the spacing between the rails would be that perfect from one end to the other.

A better idea may be to consider the bearings one side just rest on the top of the rail, so that as the dolly moves from one end to the other, the horizontal bearing can adjust to any minor difference in the rail spacing. I hope this makes sense.

Keep us posted on your progress.


Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:23 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:28 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sweden
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
I thought of that and because i have the threaded rods in quite short intervals i can get good control over the width of the rail, i just adjust the nuts and measure it with my callipers to get a correct spacing all the way down the rail. I will also be able to adjust the position of the bearing because i will use lock nuts as spacers instead of just plain washers or something like that. The bearings will arrive on Tuesday i hope.


Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:23 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:28 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sweden
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Today the bearings arrived and yesterday evening i built the dolly itself so now im just waiting for the motor to get here before i can do a time lapse with it. Im not 100% happy with how it turned out but for now its good enough, it rides very well on the rail and the is no wobbling. For now i will just use the short rail and when i see that it is stable enough for time lapse i will build a longer one.

I took a few pictures and made two small videos of it. The videos basically just shows the smoothness of the ride and how easy it rolls.

Image

Image

http://s56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/ ... CN1176.mp4

http://s56.photobucket.com/albums/g181/ ... CN1177.mp4

// Alex


Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:52 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:18 am
Posts: 12
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Fantasic idea on using the L brackets for the wheel mounts! Easy to build, can be bent for small adjustments. Nice. I was going to dril angle aluminum for mounts, but this seems way easier, cheaper and more forgiving. I am planning on using stainless steel rails so it should be smooth as silk. How smooth does yours roll and would you say its better than the teflon linear bearing ideas like IGUS/ZAZA?


Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:51 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:18 am
Posts: 12
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
uncuffed wrote:
I thought of that and because i have the threaded rods in quite short intervals i can get good control over the width of the rail, i just adjust the nuts and measure it with my callipers to get a correct spacing all the way down the rail. I will also be able to adjust the position of the bearing because i will use lock nuts as spacers instead of just plain washers or something like that. The bearings will arrive on Tuesday i hope.

While all the drilling you did in your rails seems labor intensive, the bolt adjustment spacing ability is genius.


Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:05 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:28 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sweden
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Thank you! Yes it was a good choice going for the L brackets, it gives you more freedom to screw up on other stuff :) It rolls very smooth i think, you can easily use it for a video camera. Im not that familiar with either of them but they seem allot more sophisticated than mine but the smoothness of the ride should not be that different to what you achieve with them.

Yes it was quite labor intensive with all the drilling especially when drilling in pipe isn't that pleasant. Im actually going to remove about half of the threaded rods on the short rail and the spacing on the long rail will also be further between them.
Since the pipes themselves are very rigid the only purpose of the rods are to ensure the spacing between the two pipes thus not needing so many of them. It just makes it more complicated.

It is a damn shame i dont have access to a lathe and a milling machine. Im a CNC mill/lathe operator by trade. Right now im restricted to a few power tools and a bench in my garage were there is about -5c at the moment :)


Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:38 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:28 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sweden
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Hi again! Today the motor arrived after almost a month of waiting. I made a quick mount for it this afternoon, it is not pretty but it seems to be working quite well.

The mount is spring loaded so i just push on the lever then i can move the dolly so that i can track the shots before i start. The only thing is i dont get enough pressure on the rail from the wheel on the motor so it is almost like it slips a little now and again.

If i put more tension on the spring the whole dolly just lifts of the rail at the back end.


Some pictures!

Image

Image

Image

Image


Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:27 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:49 pm
Posts: 349
Location: Troutdale, OR http://www.vimeo.com/ac
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Nice DIY. Maybe you need a set of bearings closest to the drive wheel that sort of clamp the rail from the other side, so you can put more pressure on the drive wheel. Or re-mount the drive wheel so it is clamping from the underside. I realize that gets in the way, but if you get the dolly up on tripods it shouldn't matter too much.

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Andrew Curtis http://www.ffwdtime.com


Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:35 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:28 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Sweden
Post Re: DIY Rail and Dolly
Hi! Yes that is what i was thinking of but i might just redesign the whole dolly so that it hugs the rail instead of just sitting on top of it.

Here is a little longer video a made yesterday, i had to keep indoors because of the wind outside. So far the dolly and rail performs really good i think. In the first clip it travels on a near 45 degree angle so i am pleased. Keep in mind that with these three clips i have only made a total of 5 time lapse clips so there will be more things to come.




Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:26 am
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