// www.chrisgavin.com: Gimbals Old and New

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gimbals Old and New

Keen readers of this blog will remember that back in 2007 I was trying to make my own camera stabiliser device. The centrepiece of most of these Steadicam-like mechanisms is known as a gimbal;  a special type of joint enabling very free rotational movement in 3 axes.

My 2007 efforts usually involved some skate bearings and plastic tubing of various types. Here are a couple of pictures from back in the day.

Well, much time passed and none of these attempts came to much and I eventually had to abandon the project. I would add my video camera to the top of these gimbals and have an outrageously spinning and certainly unstable result. Reading around the subject a lot, I realised that I just didn't have the patience and skills needed to accurately construct an adjustable top stage to centre the camera: an un-centred camera would twist and turn in a very alarming manner.

Well, Over the last couple of months, I have (probably foolishly) ventured back into the world of DIY camera stabilisation! Yes, I'm back at making gimbals. This time I'm mostly using square section aluminium tubing and some much smaller bearings. The results seem a lot more convincing this time...

Using smaller bearings leads to an entirely more compact design, because smaller axles and nuts can be used than previously. One huge advantage is that tiny bearings can sit tightly within the small holes (8mm) I can drill at home, so I can finally make 'bushes' to hold the bearings in position.

Using square section tubing rather than round  pieces makes it easier to drill more accurate holes, and these tend to be at 90 degrees to each other as they should be. Anyone who has ever tried drilling holes into the sides of circular tubes might appreciate this!

This overall construction is pretty small compared to my previous efforts; the outer square of this gimbal is only 50mm x 50mm in size.

Of course, this is a long way off from being a usable camera stabiliser, and work on some kind of top stage needs to come next...

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