OpenPanTilt - Pan/Tilt head for DSLR timelapse photography

by diycrap, published

OpenPanTilt - Pan/Tilt head for DSLR timelapse photography by diycrap Jan 28, 2015


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OpenPanTilt is a RepRap-inspired 3D-printed Pan/Tilt head for timelapse photography with DSLR. It can carry your DSLR easily.
Additional information can be found on my blog:

Some details about the electronics can be found here:

A video of OpenPanTilt in action:

An example video produced by OpenPanTilt:

The OpenSCAD file is provided. Please edit and change the design to your taste. Have fun and hack the heck out of it.


The unit consists of nine 3D-printed parts (the part numbers in the list correspond to those in the figure and to the individual files):
1: Camera mount with mounting holes for quick-release plate
2: Left part of the cradle
3: Right part of the cradle. The left and right parts are identical.
4: Tilt mount which holds the left part of the cradle and a NEMA17 stepper motor.
5: Right tilt mount
6: An upper pan mount which connects the two tilt mounts with M8 Rods and space for a lazy susan bearing.
7: Top cover for the pan stepper motor box, which also has a space for the second half of the lazy susan bearing.
8: The pan stepper motor box, containing the second NEMA17 motor.
9: The bottom cover of the pan stepper motor box. A quick release mount can be printed as a part of the cover as an option.

The hardware pieces are as follows:
2x A-1Y-5MYK08RA Worm (from sdp-si)
2x A-1P-6MYK08R030 Worm Gear (from sdp-si)
2x NEMA17 stepper motor (The Pan engine should be max 40mm to fit inside part 8)
1x 25x42x11mm Axial Ball Thrust Bearing (a.k.a Lazy Susan bearing) (between part 6 and 7)
4x 8x16x5mm Axial Ball Thrust Bearing (on each side of part 4 and 5)
6x 5x12x4mm Bearing (2 each inside parts 4, 5 and 8)
60cm 8mm threaded rod, to connect parts 4,5,6 (length depends on the size of the camera)
60cm 6mm threaded rod, to connect parts 1,2,3 (length depends on the size of the camera)
20cm 5mm threaded rod, to connects parts 4,2 and 3,5
12 M8 nuts
12 M6 nuts
12 M8 locking washer
12 M6 locking washer
5 M5x75mm hex bolts, to assemble the parts 7,8 and 9, and one for connecting the pan motor to 6.
4 M5 nuts
4 M5 washers
8 M3x15mm screws (for motor mounts)
1 Camera Tripod Quick Release Plate 1.5x2 Inches, such as this one
Some M5 washers to align the worm gears
M2 bolt to secure the tilt axis to the M5 rod connected to the tilt stepper motor.

There are many ways to assemble the unit. Below I describe my method:

  1. Start with cutting the M6 rods into two pieces. These two pieces connects the pars 1, 2 and 3 Make sure that the rods has sufficient length to ensure that your camera fits between 2 and 3, even with cables (such as power and remote control) attached. Then, assemble the cradle with M6 nuts and washers.

  2. The second step is to cut the M8 rods in adequate lengths and assemble the parts 4,6 and 5 with M8 nuts and washers.

  3. The third step is to mount the pan stepper motor and the gears into 8 and mount the lid (7) to the pan unit (6) with the axial thrust bearing in between.

  4. The fourth, and final step, is to mount the tilt stepper motor with its gears into 4, and use two M5 rods and some bearings to connect the cradle (i.e., parts 1,2,3) to the left and right tilt unit (4 and 5). Part 2 must be fastened to the M5 rod connected to the tilt gearing by drilling a hole in the rod and fitting a M2 bolt through the hole in part 2.

Voila, the OpenPanTilt is finished!

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Jul 23, 2016 - Modified Jul 23, 2016

Too many overhang parts to print:( Why useless overhand on this design:( I need one for my web controlled NodeJS pan&tild https://www.serveurperso.com/?page=robot

In your description you say " A quick release mount can be printed as a part of the cover as an option. " Where is this item? I assume it goes on your tripod, and mounts to the bottom cover. correct?

You can see the quick release tripod mount on part 9. It makes the Pan/tilt fit directly on a Benro tripod with quick release. I recommend aborting the print before it the printer begins on the tripod mount, and fasten a quick-release plate for your particular tripod with a nut and a bolt. As an alternative, you might fasten a 1/4-20 (1/4" diameter, 20 threads per inch) socket for attachment to a tripod inside the box (using glue or whatever), but I have not tested that my self. Good luck.

Hello! We're almost done building this one. What sort of tripod do I need for b9_BottomCover to fit. We have a cheap tripod here at the moment but the mounting hole is too small for the printed part to fit into :(


The b9_BottomCover file includes a tripod mount for a Benro tripod. If you do not have a Benro tripod I suggest you either edit the file b9_BottomCover to not include the tripod mount, or abort the print just when the printer begins printing the mount. Then you can fasten whatever quick-release plate you have for your particular tripod with a nut and a bolt.

Jan 21, 2016 - Modified Jan 21, 2016

For those interested in this, but then are stuck with knowing how to do the electronics, please see the website below.

There are plenty of electronics kits you can buy on ebay/aliexpress but they do not come with the level of documentation or support that this one does. I've successfully built v1 of this project and have completed v2, but I'm now in the reverse position of many; I have the electronics/motors working fine, just no pan-tilt head!


After checking the price on the gears for this project, $150, I downloaded the 3d models and printed them. they actually work just fine. print on your best settings for the smoothest operation! Published as "Gears for Open Pan Tilt Design"

Excellent work!

Almost done.. But I need little help again.

Can you write detailed instructions/send images how to assembly pan axis? I have a huge problem with pan axis. Cant make it firm enough and part 6 swing little bit side to side like a seesaw. And because it isn't firm enough, it slips if I put heavy dslr on it and try to rotate pan axle with stepper. Part 6 isnt rotate if I put weight on it.

It is difficult to say what your problem might be without seeing the device. A 25x42x11mm Axial Ball Thrust Bearing should be mounted between part 6 and 7. If the ball bearing is perfectly centered, the parts should spin freely and without any wobble even with heavy load. The ball bearing should handle several kgs (and way more weight than the rest of the construction). When the gears are mounted inside part 8, the pan axis should still spin freely. Verify that the ball bearing is sufficiently centered. You might need to file a bit on part 6 and 7, and drill a slightly larger hole for the axis on part 7.

Where I can find that quick release plate and adapter stl files that put together a camera and tilt axle?

Am I right, but looks like tilt motor is wrong side of tilt axle? In stl it is right side of the tilt axle and in photos it is left side of the tilt axle???? It wont work right side, because worm gears must be assembly right way (there is slight difference witch way you assembly worm gears together) .. Are you modifed this after uploaded the stl files? Please can you send the correct 4 LeftTilt.stl?

You are completely right. I did not know until you told me. Some parts seems to have been mirrored along one axis as I did the conversion as I uploaded to Thingiverse. The SCAD-file is correct, however. I will look into it.

The parts are now fixed. The old parts are deleted and the new ones are called RevB (prefix b). Make sure you download the new ones. Thanks again!

Thanks! I am happy if I was helpful :)

Please help!

Can you tell the specs of your nema17 motors you use?
I use 12v 0.33A Nema17 steppers and I think they are too weak..

I am not sure how much the rating really says, since the steppers are produced by many different manufacturers and the quality differs a lot. My Pan motor is a 40mm NEMA17 and is rated 1.7A. The tilt motor is a 34mm NEMA17 and is rated 0.4A. I have had no problems using them, but the result also depends on the stepper driver configuration and the quality on the gears and bearings.

OH? Ver did you find 12v NEMA 17 rated 1.7A motor? I dont find anywhere. I have found only 0.3-0.4A rated motors. And your Easydriver can handle 1.7A per coil?

It is a "Made in China" NEMA. They say its 1.7A, but it could be peak or combined on the phases, I do not now. It is probably a 0.4A motor as most of the others you have seen. Anyway. I have had no problems.

Hi nice build! I want to do something similar. Is this mobile i.e can you run it on a lipo battery? What is the rough consumption of this system and how long will it last on X mah battery?

Oct 8, 2015 - Modified Oct 8, 2015
diycrap - in reply to ggregory

It all depends on a number of factors. Each stepper motor draws between 0.5-1A when the device is moving continuously. However, the current is zero when the device is not moving, so a small 12V lipo can power the unit for a long time given that you are using it as a time-lapse device and not as a pan/tilt video device. Of course this also depends on how the driver circuit it is programmed. If you are using micro stepping on the stepper driver, you simply cannot turn off the steppers between each picture since this will result the stepper axis moving, and then ruining your time lapse. To conclude: if you can live without micro stepping, the batteries will last for a long time.

Great stuff. What do you need to operate the steppers? (circuitry, power and controls)?

May 7, 2015 - Modified Oct 27, 2015
diycrap - in reply to KingRoach

Hi, and thanks for your interest. I created my own controller board using an Atmega328 (DIL) with Arduino SW and Easydriver stepper motor drivers. The PCB can be seen here: https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/WvjoFyFt
The board can fit three stepper drivers, so it can also drive a dolly stepper in addition to pan/tilt. The stepper motors are driven by 12V. I used a 8x7seg LED and some buttons as GUI. (There is a minor error on the board, so you should not order it directly from OSH-park).
Some information about the electronics are provided at my blog: http://diycrap.blogspot.no/2015/05/openpantilt-electronics.html

Thanks a lot for your reply. I'm in the UK don't know where they are sending this board from.

What is the overall cost for the entire bill of material to get this project finished? Looks like it won't be particuarly "cheap" even though I must say "versatile" is very strong point here which is worth it

Filament, bearings, nuts and bolts are cheap. NEMA17s can be purchased for around $10-15 each. The most expensive parts are the worm gears, which I got from http://www.sdp-si.com/. They are of very high quality, but I guess less expensive alternatives can be found in RC hobby shops.

Regarding the electronics, I wanted to create my own board as a learning experience. It is probably more sensible to buy a 3D-printer controller kit such as http://www.aliexpress.com/item/3D-Printer-kit-1pcs-Mega-2560-R3-1pcs-RAMPS-1-4-Controller-5pcs-DRV8825-Stepper-Motor/32251195305.html . It is $34 and is all the electronics you need, including a display.

I think it can be possible to build OpenPanTilt for under $100. If you are into electronics and have some of the parts already, you can do it for less.