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Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

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About This Instructable

34,052 views Posted:

Jun 17, 2012
178 favorites License:

MacGyver9 (/member
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More by MacGyver9




DSLR (/tag/type-id/category-technology/keyword-dslr/)

Tripod (/tag/type-id/category-technology/keyword-

Camera Slider (/tag/type-id/category-technology

/keyword-camera slider/)

1 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

Add instructable to:

Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )
Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )

(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps

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This tutorial will show how I made this tripod mounted camera slider for under dSLR Wrist Strap
$50. The design uses hardware available in most hardware/home improvement (/id/dSLR-Wrist-Strap/)
stores. I wanted a design that I could use with any of my tripods & cameras. by ~teknoarsonist~ (/member
This design utilizes the removal head aspect of tripods as shown in the last two /~teknoarsonist~/)
photos. Ultimate DIY motorized
camera slider- Cinematic
Due to the high prices for camera sliders, I decided to create my own camera use Part 4/4 (/id/Cinematic-
slider to use for movie making and stereo photography. All of the DIY projects use-of-Slidee-Ultimate-
for camera sliders I found weren’t suitable for use on a tripod and the Light Painting Photography
commercial versions were simply too expensive. The main objective was to For Beginners (/id/Light-
make a camera slider that would be light weight, yet sturdy enough to use with Painting-Photography-
a professional DSLR. For-Beginners/)
( Camera slider, cheap,
How sturdy is this slider? The tripod head shown in the photo weighs 11 oz, my quick and easy!
Canon SX20IS camera weighs 27 oz (1.7 lbs) and my Nikon D7000 camera (/id/Camera-slider-cheap-
with battery grip weighs 64 oz (4 lbs). Therefore, when using the Canon SX20IS quick-and-easy/)

there is 38 oz (2.3 lbs) on the slider and when using the Nikon D7000 there is Photography DIY Part 1-
75 oz (4.7 lbs) on the slider. The slider itself weighs about 39 oz (2.4 lbs). Getting Started

See More (/tag/type-id/?q=)

Step 1: Tools & Materials
Tools needed:
- Drill
- Hacksaw
- Wrench
- Metal hand file
- Pop rivet tool

Materials list:

Quantity Part Description

1 24" clamp & cut guide
4 3/8-16 x 1 1/4" chrome button screws
1 3/8” x ¾” <OR> ¼” x ¾” hex bolt (depend ing on the size of your tripod
mounting screw)
1 3/8” <OR> ¼” bar knob (depending on the size of your tripod mounting
4 3/8-16 nuts
2 1/2" x 4" PVC risers – outdoor use
1 1/2" x 4' aluminum round-tube
1 flat 4-plug electrical box cover
4 3/16” x (1/8” to ¼” grip) rivets & back-up plates (washers)
4 3/4" 1-hole conduit straps
4 1/4" x 1/2" hex bolts with lock nuts
2 2" x 4 1/4" aluminum angle-stock (left over from previous dolly project)

a. Not all PVC risers are manufactured to the same tolerances, so be sure that
the ones you select for this project slip easily over the ½” aluminum round-tube.
b. Before selecting your 24" clamp & cut guide, be sure to read the first
paragraph of step 2.

Step 2: Dis-assemble Clamp and Cut Guide

2 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )

Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )

(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps

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If you decide to build this camera slider, you need to choose your clamp & cut
guide carefully. Cheaper versions may not be rigid enough to prevent flexing
when you use with heavier DSLRs. The first photo shows a cheaper version on
the left and the stronger version I used on the right. Since the ends of the guides
will not be visible before dis-assembly, you will need to carefully inspect the
bottom of the guide to estimate the thickness. Another test is to try twisting the
guide to see if it has much flex – the guide should not flex at all.

Remove the ‘locking pin’ from the handle of the clamp & cutting guide. Once the
locking pin is removed, save the aluminum channel stock and recycle the rest of
the materials. The aluminum channel stock will be the part of the base unit that
attaches directly to the tripod.

Step 3: Drill & Assemble Camera Mounting Plate

3 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )

Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )

(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps

+ Collection Favorite



a. Drill four ¼” holes in the electrical box plate for the conduit hangers. Drill the
holes so that the edges of the hangers align to the edge of the electrical box
plate (first photo). Drill a hole centered in the plate for the size of bolt you need
for your tripod (1/4” or 3/8”). Attach the appropriate sized bolt to the plate using
the best method you have available (weld, JB Weld, epoxy, etc.).

b. Next, slightly bend the conduit hangers closed until they form a tight fit
around the PVC riser ends (second photo). Attach the conduit hangers (with the
risers inserted) to the bottom of the plate using the ¼” x ½” bolts and lock nuts.
The distance between the tube centers should be 3 ¼“. If your distance is
slightly different, be sure to make the proper adjustment when drilling the holes
in Step 4b.

Step 4: Shape, Cut, Drill Materials & Assemble the Base Unit


4 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )

Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )

(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps

+ Collection Favorite


a. Cut the four foot aluminum round-tube into two equal parts (approximately 24

b. From the two inch aluminum angle stock, cut two 4 ¼” lengths. On one side,
drill two 3/8” holes spaced ½” from the side and ½” down from the ‘top’ edge as
shown in the first photo. These two holes should be the distance between the
center points of the tubes that will be inserted through the camera mount (3 ¼ “
- refer to Step 3b). On the other side, cutoff the ‘corners so that they angle down
to the width of the aluminum channel stock from the edge guide (from step 2).
Next drill two 3/16” holes for rivets (first photo).

c. Cut the aluminum channel stock to 24 ½”. Align the aluminum angle stock
(ends) to the aluminum channel stock. Using the previous holes drilled in the
angle stock as guide holes, drill holes in the aluminum channel stock. Assemble
the ends to the aluminum channel stock with the rivets & back-up plates
(washers) as shown in the photos above. Finally, drill your mounting hole (either
3/8” or ¼”) in the center of the aluminum channel stock to match the size of your

Step 5: Assemble the Camera Mount Plate & Base Unit


5 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )

Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )

(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps

+ Collection Favorite


Start by attaching the button screws & nuts to the base unit. On one end tighten
the nuts on the button screws all the way (photo one). On the other end just
place the nuts on the screws but only screw on until the tips of the screws are
flush with the nuts. Place the mounting plate assembly on the tubes and insert
the tubes onto the button screws and finish screwing in the opposite screws into
the tubes. On the bar knob, shown in the last photo, I needed to file about 1/32”
off the bottom of the head due to the depth of the channel stock. I store the bar
knob on the camera mount portion of the camera slide.

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muresanpaulcristian (/member/muresanpaulcristian/) says:

9 months ago Reply (C01J6TLHF23K05S)
Hallo man, sorry for disturbing you with this
(/member kind of problem, but i can't find anywhere
that cut guide, could you give me a website
where from to buy it. Thanks man.

MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) in reply to muresanpaulcristian

9 months ago Reply (CZSWZ4HHF23M67O)
Glad you asked. I meant to post
14 with the original Instructable but
forgot. The guide I used for the
slider was a 24" All-In-One
Contractor Straight Edge Clamping
Tool Guide from E. Emerson Tool
/products/products.html#c ). I got
my at my local Menards hardware

6 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

store. They had the 24", 50" and 99" sizes. I checked the cost at Menards
Light Weight Tripod
today and the Camera Sliderforfor
costs were: $28.98 DSLR
the 24" (SKU 2443812 - on sale today
by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )
in the store for $15.99), $37.98 for the 50" (SKU 2443816) and $99.98 for
Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf
the 99" (SKU 2442818). )

(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps flag

+ Collection Favorite
pdub77 (/member/pdub77/) says: 11 months ago Reply (CE3MHDBHCJOFPF9)

Elegant. I like this a lot. This is hand made, but looks like something you could
15 buy in a shop. Well done! How smooth is this thing? Can you use it for video work
with any sort of precision?

MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) in reply to pdub77

11 months ago Reply (CYM4JYHHCJO37U1)
Probably the reason it looks like
14 pro gear is because I'm "picky"
about how the final results will
look. I took my time to make sure
everything fit like you would expect
if you purchased from a dealer.

Without adding anything to the

rails, the contact between the PVC
risers and the aluminum
round-tube is smooth. However, in
practice I use a rag with silicone
spray and wipe the aluminum
round-tube. This results in a very
smooth movement with no messy
oils, etc. on the rails. The video I
posted previously was before I
started using silicone on the rails -
the silicone makes the transitions
very smooth. I'm not sure how
much precision you would need
with your video, but it works very
nice for my needs.

The length may be too short for

some people, however the length
allows me to carry the rails in my
tripod bag with the tripod,
monopod, ballheads and remote
shutter release everywhere I take
the tripod - especially nice when
on vacations.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (/member/Zaphod+Beetlebrox/) says:

1 year ago Reply (C7B6C8IH3NNEXH0)
For even cheaper this
27 (
would work.

MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) in reply to Zaphod Beetlebrox

1 year ago Reply (C7XFYP0H3NN9LN6)
True, less expensive, but too heavy
14 (bulky) for any of my tripods. I needed
something more portable that I can
use in museums, etc. I don't think the
PVC on one you mentioned would be
able to support the weight of my Nikon
setup either, so that's why I ruled out
PVC for my design.

7 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

benjaminxuu (/member/benjaminxuu/) in reply to MacGyver9

Light Weight Tripod Camera
I guess the PVC tubeSlider for1 year
is only for DSLR ago
by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )
(/memberthe slider which does not bear
Download /benjaminxuu/)
(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )
(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps flag

+ Collection Favorite
MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) in reply to benjaminxuu
1 year ago Reply (C9TQI9DH3Z3U7NJ)
While @Beetlebrox's design
14 incorporates PVC, my design also
incorporates PVC material made for
outdoor use (4 inch "risers").
Depending on how & where you use
the PVC in the design, PVC can be
very light-weight & strong. PVC also
tends to have a low coefficient of
friction when used on metal surfaces.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (/member/Zaphod+Beetlebrox/) in reply to benjaminxuu

1 year ago Reply (C9TRF85H3Z3U3WQ)
I tried to use pvc because it would be
27 lighter than wood and cheaper.
/Zaphod+Beetlebrox/) flag

Zaphod Beetlebrox (/member/Zaphod+Beetlebrox/) in reply to MacGyver9

1 year ago Reply (CLNJOUKH3NN9M8D)
K, it worked for me. But I'm using a
27 smaller DSLR and go pros mainly. No
battery pack.

leviathan937 (/member/leviathan937/) says: 1 year ago Reply (CDHLVJ5H3QEXK87)

I wonder if it would be worth adding a small pully on the inside of each end and a
(/member counter weight, so the further you move the camera to one side the further the
counter would move out to the other side.
Just for a little extra stability, especially if you where using a larger lens or other
attachments adding a bit of weight...

MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) in reply to leviathan937

1 year ago Reply (CVQKOAOH3XMT22T)
Now that's seems like it would be
14 worth trying. I've got a couple ideas
on how to implement the slider, so I
think I might just give it a try. I'll post
an update if successful.

Edit: After thinking about this over

night, I'm not so sure it would be a
good idea in my case. One of my
objectives was to keep it portable
(light weight), so to add a counter-
weight would be counter-productive
(no pun intended). Currently I hang
my camera bag from the bottom of
the tripod in order to make the tripod
more stable, and the camera slider
stays level when the lighter camera
(2.3 lbs) is at the end. I have also
tested my heavier Nikon setup
(almost 5 lbs) about half way to the
end of the slider and the tripod &
slider have both remained stable.

leviathan937 (/member/leviathan937/) in reply to MacGyver9

8 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

True, it is just extra 1 year ago Reply (CED8BYSH3XN8F4G)

Light Weight Tripod

weight, Camera
and from your Slider for DSLR by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )
(/member pictures it looks like
Download (/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf
the slider is not much
/leviathan937/) )
wider (if at all) than
(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps
your tripod.
A counter weight
+ Collection Favorite
would be of more use i
think if you had a
longer slider, or if you
were using it in strong
winds etc. where a
strong gust could
throw it off balance.

If you did include a

counter weight I would
also be inclined to
attach it to the string
with a clip so it can be
easily removed. (there
when you need it, not
when you dont.)

MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) says: 1 year ago Reply (C6WFP98H3NLIBZE)

Attached is a 3D image I created today - not the best, but it was shot at the same
14 time as the sample video I also created with the rail:


earlyflyer (/member/earlyflyer/) in reply to MacGyver9

1 year ago Reply (CIN6TFOH3QFECM1)
Very nice rig and excellent results.
(/member Thanks for taking the time to share it!

miriallen (/member/miriallen/) says: 1 year ago Reply (CKI8CSGH3QF5TK8)

So you watch Film Riot, too! Neat!


isko1960 (/member/isko1960/) says: 1 year ago Reply (CFRL6EZH3QEXJ68)

Excellent tripod.
1 I made ââa different way. but it seems

And how do you ensure the correct center of gravity?


csherrit (/member/csherrit/) in reply to isko1960

9 of 10 03-01-2014 02:10
Light Weight Tripod Camera Slider for DSLR

Hey good job of 1 year ago Reply (CQLSEKVH3QF5T1L)

Light Weight Tripod

placing Camera Slider for DSLR
a dangerous by MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/ )
(/member link !
/csherrit/)(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/?download=pdf )
(/id/Light-Weight-Tripod-Camera-Slider-for-DSLR/ ) 5 Steps

MacGyver9 (/member/MacGyver9/) (author) in reply to isko1960

1 year ago Reply (C3JHZSLH3QF9AAN) + Collection Favorite
This Instructable is actually regarding
14 the camera slider rather than the
tripod. The tripod shown in the
Instructable is one of my commercial
tripods (Promaster SystemPro carbon
fiber T525P). The reason the tripod &
head are shown is to demonstrate how
the camera slider is used with a
removable head tripod.

snotty (/member/snotty/) says: 1 year ago Reply (C1G7662H3NN9LXZ)

HAAA I spent like $1k making something similar...


mikeasaurus (/member/mikeasaurus/) says: 1 year ago Reply (CO79EU5H3JCKAYJ)

Looks good. Do you have photos to show us from your rig?


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