DIY Jib/Crane with pan and tilt head...

Grand total ~US$150, although most of the stuff for the crane I just had laying around. The head was $60.

OK, so the crane is this one on a bigger tripod:

The construction is with little metal brackets that I made the main "tilt" frame with L-brackets and the rest to make the cage with a block of wood for the main bottom support.

This frame was placed inside the "pan" frame which hangs off the original camera platform on the crane.

For controls, I've attached springs to the top of the tilt so the camera points skyward naturally, then ran a cable down to the control end of the crane for the operator and attached that to the bottom of the platform so the Op can counter the springs by pulling back on the cable to tilt down.

I made a PVC/wood handle on top of the crane which rotates, then attached a cable on either end each of which run down a side of the crane and pull on the top left and top right respectively to make the pan work... so currently the left hand drives the crane and operates the pan, while the left hand operates the tilt. It pans ~120 degrees and tilts ~100 degrees. The cables are run through silicone tubing and that through eye hooks for mounting to the camera.


Video of the beast in action.
Ok, couldn't help myself..

here is a quick sketch of my design for a gear driven pan\tilt head.. uses bevel gears..



The "bevel gear floats on pan shaft" is to say that the gear spins freely on the shaft..

the tilt shaft can rotate, but it's bearing is IN the pan shaft, thus the camera platform will rotate when the pan shaft rotate, but the floating bevel gear will not. Im not sure how the rotation of the pan shat will impact the tilt control shaft.. the long one connected to the small bevel gear.. might just lock the whole thing up! untested design.. might not work..
That is a really nice tactile control system on the link :) Definitely needs to be sturdier though.

That gear system would be great, but may bind at the junction where the boom and the head meet... there would need to be a u-joint right at that point... If you draw a line through the bolt on the main boom where the head connects to the boom and extend it out to the sides of the crane... then run the shaft dead center on that axis, it may work, the Ujoint would have to meet at exactly that point so it wouldn't bind with movement in the head due to the parallelogram forcing itself to stay parallel (the driving force behind the Crane).

I've found that when flying my crane, having the pan control on the same plane as the actual pan happens saves processing time and makes it easier to pick up driving this thing as the choreography can be quite complex if you compound movements with marks to hit at certain timings... just too much going on to have the controls not directly relate to the camera movement.

The walking shot on the dolly with the gun on the table was:
1) High-Angle shot of character walking through door boomed left, panned & tilted to frame.
2) Dolly keeps distance as character walks
3) by halfway mark, crane is on the ground plane looking up at the character boom right, pan left, tilt up to keep frame.
4) dolly move ends as table enters frame right, crane is boomed floor and hard right, panned extreme left and tilted up to frame eyes on top third line.
5) As character looks at table, crane booms upwards and tilts downwards to reveal gun on table reaching apex as character reaches to table and grabs the gun.

All done smoothly and rapidly, it took 4 practices and 8 takes to get one that after digital stabilization in Shake looks the way you see it in the previous post.
Nice design Wheat. A geared mechanism would be sweet as heck. I think when you bring gears into the mix (Depending on the size and materials they are made of) you might as well just use servos and plastic gears at the head, and cut out the weight up front that you have to make up for in the back, and cut out any flex or minor shift in the travel of the control driveshaft, but if you have small steel or hard plastic bevel gears and a precision driveshaft it could rock.

There are some beautiful ones out there people have made with machined aluminum parts and all kinds of killer marterials. It's madness.

I got some decent springs today, and man it makes the control issue way easier than what I was trying before.

EDIT: I just saw the Skype conference. That's a riot! lol

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I’m still a little sketchy on which paths I will rig it by, but here is what it looks like it will be:


I was booming around with just the tilt control… ,that spring loaded cage design is frickin’ awesome!
I love it.

The main rotation axis is old, and needs some grease, but I was laughing at the groaning sound it made resonating through the hollow of the boom and springs, like an instrument. (Sounded like something from Lost.)

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was booming around with just the tilt control… ,that spring loaded cage design is frickin’ awesome!
I love it.

As with every good invention, my original plan failed miserably as the crane moved up and down, it just about snapped the head off with the amount of tension it created both up and down. I was going to string it like the pan so I could have the same kind of handle to get really tactile control... no go.

I had a spring laying around and I was going to use it to eat the tension in the cables, but when I got it attached to the head, I had fixed it to the body of the head temporarily and it worked so well, I didn't finish the alteration ;)

Complete serendipity.
I added counter weights to the rig yesterday... have to reconfigure where the handles are a bit though due to the space the weights them selves take up:

Looks much more professional than hanging a duffel bag off of the end of it
U-bolts and angle brackets with a groove cut into the top of the arm (My Son's Idea!)
Reverse shot, note I followed the 180 degree rule ;)
Here's another shot of the pan and tilt cage that shows more of what's going on with it in closer detail.
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I bought a Panasonic electric pan/tilt head with positional feedback off of ebay awhile back for $40. The only issues are that 1.) it runs on 24vdc, 2.) it is heavy as hell to be hanging off of the end of a long stick, 3.) it didn't come with a control panel. My plans are to use either 2 motorcycle batteries or two group 14 car batteries wired in series to get the 24 volts depending on how much weight I need to offset and get or build a control head that remembers the movements for motion tracking. It is a very low priority project for me at the time.
Arduino could work as a controller for the motion control pretty easily.

The batteries could work as counter-weight at the operator end of the arm (although loading and unloading that weight would be annoying).

Make the stick sturdy :)