Tag Archive for gearing

Relapse (Design)

In the time since I designed my timelapse camera gimbal, I’ve laid everything out for laser cutting, researched companies that offer cutting services, and very carefully decided not to send it out. As an initial draft, I wasn’t ready to spend $150 on a process that I’ve never used before.


Fortunately, the excellent Laser Cutter Cafe recently started up on a temporary basis. The deal is, you can come in, take a brief training course, and rent time on a laser cutter. Compare to online services, this is relatively inexpensive, and you can cut smaller test pieces and see the results immediately. For rapid prototyping, this is a valuable learning tool.

At the beginning, I was finding that many of my designs had fairly glaring errors that weren’t apparent until I was holding a physical copy. Throughout the process though, I was constantly tweaking and updating the design, and now I’ve got an excellent handle on what works and how everything will fit together.

The tweaking process involved adding, removing, and moving pieces around to fit better. Initially, everything was going to be glued together, but with a combination of finger joints and mortises, most of the individual components slot together and can almost friction fit. Naturally, glue will still be used, but the assembly of the final product is nearly idiot-proof now.



If I were to print this again, I’d arrange the shapes closer, merging the the coincident lines to save on laser-time, but that wasn’t a priority while printing up the prototype.




While I’ve been waiting for parts to arrive for Elapse, I’ve decided to build a companion rig that can smoothly pan a camera over the course of hours (or days or weeks or whatever). I’ve nicknamed it Relapse because it’s a repeatable camera gimbal, building on the idea of Elapse.


Here’s a quick idea I banged out for Relapse over the course of an evening. This shows the gist of what I’m trying to do, just without any of the structural elements (or gravity).

Prolapse Concept

Those cylinders are stand-ins for some geared motors that I have literally bags full of. That cube in the centre has the same dimensions as my small SLR camera.


After looking around unsuccessfully for cheap gearing that I can source locally, I decided to abandon that and go full-on laser cutter.


To do that, I had to have pretty exact idea of the dimensions of every piece I’ll need, and how it fits together. That’s a good opportunity to dive deep into Solidworks and make an accurate model of how this thing will end up instead of just a rough mock-up.

After a couple nights’ more of work and a trusty pair of digital calipers, I came up with this:

Final Prolapse Render

Click to make all your wildest dreams come true

Many of the pieces from this (the rails on the sides of the top gear and the bearings attached to them) are measured based off parts that I already have laying around. Using up excess materials is awesome, so that’s always a bonus.

Now I’ve got to pull it apart and lay all the pieces out for a laser cutting template.