Need Pro Advice


I am attempting to construct my own motorized dolly for time lapse photography and need some advise/suggestions for the motor. Seeing as how ‘professional’ ones cost around $1000, I thought I would try my hand at building one before I laid down that kind of cash.

The design is simple, two tracks made of pvc pipe, a small dolly that is wheel mounted resting on the tracks and a motor at one end to slowly pull the dolly down the track. I need a one directional motor that has a decent amount of torque, enough to pull a dolly holding a DSLR camera on a small tripod, but is so slow it’s almost not moving. Realistically, I am looking at around 5 feet of distance over a 4 hour time span.

I thought about possibly using a DC motor, small pulley system and a speed regulator (such as this: to get the speed (or lack there of) that I need.

Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas? I would greatly appreciate it.


In general, I suspect that making your own stuff is not the way to save money, but $1000 does sound like a lot for what you’re describing, especially if you don’t need it to look nice. The controller you linked to looks like it could work. From what you have written, I can’t tell what your experience is and what part you want advice about. You are looking for a really slow speed compared to what we usually do, and we don’t have many gearboxes that give you a really high gear ratio. The Tamiya planetary gearbox kit is kind of nice in that you can add more and more stages to keep increasing the gear ratio by factors of 4 or 5:

I see they’re not in stock at the moment, and they’re also mostly a toy, but I suspect it could be enough to run the kind of setup you’re describing for a while.

- Jan