If you go shopping for a time lapse dolly rig for your camera, you’re going to be in for a hefty sum of money. So Rick Adam has put together a website showing you how to construct your own – taking you through software, hardware, construction and all that good stuff. You’ll be using a Raspberry Pi, a motor and timing belt (Rick’s were from eBay), and some bits and pieces from the DIY store. He reckons the whole rig will cost you less than a tenth of what a professional rig might, with results just as good as the pro version. I had a chat with him on Twitter about it. He said: “It’s a first draft, but it works all the same!” And boy, does it. Here’s some video of the setup working – and of its gorgeous output.


SN avatar

this was EXACTLY what I was planning to do too – thanks!

io53 avatar

It’s a lot easier to use gphoto2 and connect the camera with USB.
The command:
‘gphoto2 –capture-image-and-download –interval 5 –filename “%Y%m%d%H%M%S.jpg”‘
captures an image every 5 seconds, saves it on the host computer and removes it from the camera :).
You can also set iso, aperature, and loads of other things your camera support.

tzj avatar


LJ avatar

Can you get it to text you when some urchin runs off with your camera?


liz avatar

Surely you will be sitting behind it with a thermos of tea, a book and a packet of biscuits?

Joakim avatar

Will be hard to sync the gphoto2 with the moment of the motor, think his way looks a lot easier and with lesser errors.

gphoto2 works great tho if you don’t gonna move the camera also.

io53 avatar

I actually think you can execute a script with every image captured by gphoto2. Not relevant to this tho as his camera isn’t supported by gphoto2.

SN avatar

yes you can – which again was how I was going to interlace motor movement with image capture with my 600D

alex avatar

Very clever – well done. So it’s all done with “motor on” timings – and the results speak for themselves. This one’s going to have to go on the list of things to try. :)

Rick avatar


io53 – the gphoto2 stuff looks great, but unfortunately my camera (a Sony) doesn’t accept USB control, but it would be very useful for owners of cameras from other manufacturers…

Eric_G avatar

The 1st gen Gigapan unit used a solenoid to push the trigger button. Shouldn’t be too hard to modify the code to trigger a contact closure.

Eric_G avatar

Nice simple hardware interface. I’ve used http://www.papywizard.org/ to take gigapixel images using a modified telescope mount. Adding pan/tilt to this setup would be interesting.

Matt avatar

Wow! Great reason to buy a Pi!

mac avatar

great stuff, only just stumbled upon the raspberry pi, just need some nice tutorials now on how to make me one of these.

Rob V avatar

one of my ‘to do’ items is to make a motorized pan-head for my video camera, where i set the start and finish angles, and time between, and let it go. Most prosumer videos allows one to remotely control zoom at the same time through iLink

All of this sort of stuff is where the Pi shines because its low power requirement, and physical size to take out into the field.

Bob Cochran avatar

Is the camera supposed to move on the table? The video seems to show the camera staying in place, without moving.

Martin avatar

Bob, if he is making the time lapses the way I do, he probably is going take about 30 minutes to move the full length of track. (Taking a shot every 5 seconds, means that if you play it at 30 frames per second, you will get a 12 second video for 30 minutes of shooting). So you wont see it move much in the 20 seconds or so that was shown.

alex avatar

If you watch carefully you can see it moving a fraction left to right. Since video takes 25 or 30 frames per second thats a lot of shots with a very small movement in between each one.

Bob Cochran avatar

Thanks very much for the explanation. I don’t have a clear understanding of what time lapse photography is. I may make something like this for my wife. I think she will enjoy it. Is there a way to secure the camera and the lens on it from theft if someone sets up the time-lapse rig and then goes away for a while?

Rick avatar

Hi Bob, I’ve added a second video showing larger movements of the platform here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy8Gp2KpLFQ

David Grice avatar

Great effort, would be interested in the hardware you used

Kyle avatar

Is the shutter actuating for every photo? I wonder if you can have the camera hold it open?

alex avatar

If you follow the link and look at his python script, you’ll see that it controls how long the shutter is open for.

Rien Wijnsma avatar

Thanks a million, you just made my day.

Olivier avatar

Very nice ! For those of us who have a cheap Canon camera, it should be noted we can use CHDK ( http://chdk.wikia.com/ ) on the camera and build a simple cable to trigger the photos : http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/USB_Remote_Cable

Rick avatar

Great info, very useful for Canon owners

Stefilutz avatar

I’m 11 years old and I love this Raspberry Pi. This operating system has an awsome graphical interface!I have waited so much to appear a so awsome graphical interface!

Keep on!

SaratogaWeather avatar

Here is the product of my timelapse setup using a Raspberry Pi. http://www.youtube.com/user/SaratogaWeather

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