EEVblog #493 – DIY Video Camera Dolly For Workbenches

Dave makes a DIY camera dolly system that mounts under his work bench.
It’s not complete yet, it possibly needs a 2nd rail platform, angled brackets, and better tripod mount, but otherwise works fairly well for a quick trial.

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  1. Instead of velcro, why don’t you mount some hose clamps to the angle bracket like this:

    It would be reusable and plenty stuff/sturdy to hold your tripod to the bracket.

    • Added to that, is there any way to invert the leg you have remaining on the tripod, so that the Velcro doesn’t need to be used? Think of something like a Car antenna, where it retracts completely.


      • bleh, just looked at the youtube comments. lots of criticism. So many different ideas people are coming up with, I guess it is one of those things where there is a million solutions to the one problem.

        If the thing doesn’t rattle around too much when it gets bumped, and it will be able to do what you need it to do well, I say just leave it be.

  2. Maybe a 3/4″ or 1″ diameter PVC or metal pipe could be attached to the angle bracket you’ve made. Then, the tripod leg could slip in and out of the pipe very easily and quickly, like a cup in a cup holder. Of course you’ll need a strap across the bottom hole of the pipe or another method to cap it. If the pipe is long enough and snug enough, wobble should be minimal.

  3. Hi Dave.

    Very nice idea. I’m a little bit afraid that it will not be very comfortable to sit in the same line where the camera is, also it can wobble while you operate at the bench. Maybe ceiling mount for the rails would be better. It would just dangle from top on the reversed tripod sliding at the rail, and thus you get it:
    1. Self stabilized by gravity the main mass would be on the end
    2. You have the whole width of the bench edge free for your hands
    3. If you wobble the bench, the camera stays stable

    Just some idea, don’t take it seriously 🙂

  4. I think I might have used something like this: and removed the lamp fixture, and fabricated a camera mount.

  5. Nice work Dave.


  6. Hi Dave,

    Perhaps a set of quick release or spring clamps along with the Velcro. The Velcro keeps the tripod leg positioned while the clamps are applied/removed. The clamps would of course secure the tripod leg to the bracket as well as adapt to the different tripod leg diameters.

  7. Hi Dave,

    Check out photography stores. They have some nice clamps the in the lighting departments. Not the cheapest, but benefits might outweigh the cost. After all you already have nice CNC quality rails 😉

    Here is a nice collection:

    And here are couple that should work fine for your application:

    Also a grip head (by design it holds two tubes together) might be easy to adopt:

    BTW, add a shelf support as a corner brace and you’ll have a lot less wobble. Bigger mass is your friend in this application. The rails will hold it.

    I visit B&H frequently, I can take some measurements and more photos for you. Shoot me an email if you need any help.

    • To be clear. Look at impact clamp. You can remove that brass barrel and the clamp has couple few holes on the flat end (photography standard is 1/4-20). You can screw it to your flat aluminium and it will hold your tripod tube nicely.

      • Well, It seems my first comment didn’t pass moderation 😉

        I’m wiring about Impact Super Clamp. It is photographic/lighting clamp designed to hold tripod tubes. Google it.

  8. lol glue the rail full of suction cups, then attach it to the ceiling with the cups. There’s no way this could possibly fail – I think.

  9. Carlos A H Silva

    when I saw this video I start to remember 2001 the space odissey film.

    Place some steps motors controled by your HAL computer, a big red light and a creepy emotionless computer voice, and let it move by yourself while you tear down the equipments.

    Just get worried when the computer creepy voice says:

    “Dave, My internal checks shows that the satelite antena over the house will fail soon.
    You need to get the ladder and replace it at once”

    Then will be the computer Tear down time.

    “Dave, will I dream?”


  10. Carlos A H Silva


    “move by itself”

    where is the edit button???

  11. Re: bearing noises:
    If Star Trek became famous with their Wwwsshh-wssSHHHHH doors, why can’t some bearing noise bring you to international fame too? Oops, you ARE already internationally famous. Well, errr, then, intergalactical…

    Google for “Manfrotto” photo product. They have more clamps and articulated arms than you ever dreamed of. And they are sturdy, functional. Your arm is so wiggly, with such a long oscillation time constant, I have a hunch your viewers will get seasick…

    You want to minimise the time constant. Rise-up the rigidity of the system (lower the capacitance of the circuit) and lower the mass (lower the capacitance). A little resistance (rubber mount at some critical places, joined between ridid members) could kill the high-frequency vibrations that might appear by merely touching the table.

    Mechanical, electrical, it’s all physics anyway. 🙂

  12. U blots would work great to hold the leg. You just need to get the ones with the fully threaded legs and a couple of wing nuts. They then could any of the 3 sections and give you up and down adjustment as well.

  13. man, when you were going over different places you couldn’t mount it, all I could think about was those 2 metal bars the shelves are mounted to. You could make something that mated with that, and gave you a slide rail right between those two, comes out in front of the shelves, and down from the top. Then the camera would be completely out of your way and you’d be free to work under it.

  14. If the thinest section of the tripod leg was held by the angle bracket you could use the extension mechanism of the tripod leg to change the camera height.

  15. Hi Dave,

    Nice setup! I think the rig would be more stable if there was 3 linear bearings instead of 2 to widen the contact area.

    For the Manfrotto mount I’d recommend triangular holders where you can fit any sized pole. The leg could then be fastened to the pole with velcro bands or maybe zipties?

    I made a quick 3D sketch of the idea:

    You could make those triangular holders with your Makerbot. I can make you the STL files if you can provide me with some dimensions.

  16. why are you not using a pair of some rare earth magnets? Strong, Durable and not shakey

  17. Gee, so many complaints about the wobble? Easy to check if it’s a real problem by trying it out once.

    The thing I’d be most worried about is getting a leg injury by bumping into a piece of sharp metal while there’s no camera mounted. I hope you have some foam to put over the edges.

  18. Dave you have it completely bass ackwards, you should be on a Dave Boom.


    Cheers, Science-Mark

  19. Hi Dave!

    Brilliant idea and video as always. You know one picture say more than thousand words, just my 2 cents in dave ©ad style:

    Best regards,

  20. I’m a bit late, so maby it’s already solved,
    but how about a couple of “exhaust clamp”? Also called “u bolt”. Use Googles picture-search to see examples of them.

    I like this project. Easy and quick to build.
    (Those who allways complain about stuff is usually the same persons that never build something.)

    //Jimmy from Sweden. (No, not the one with the big mountains. The other country.)

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