Motion Control Project – Part One…

It’s winter here in the UK, so electronics projects are a good way to pass the time when the sky is crying…

The plan here is for a full 3-Axis motion control project again powered by an Arduino…

I’ll start with a single axis and work my way up from there…

This i want from this project:

  • Full 3-Axis motion control.
  • 3S Lipo powered.
  • 3 Key frames, Start, Middle (optional) and End.
  • Real Time Clock.
  • 20×4 LCD Display.
  • 3 Stepper Motors.
  • 3 Motor Drivers.
  • Soft Touch Buttons.

I already have a little dolly on skate wheels which i don’t really use, so the basis is going to be this dolly, which i will then create rails for and get a single axis working before working on a pan and tilt head capable of moving a DSLR around without any problems.


I have already collected 3 x NEMA17 stepper motors, a GT2 Drive belt and pullys for the Slide axis and i would like to be able to have enough power for a vertical climb so may substitute one of these for something larger, I am planning to run these direct to the axis but may need to change this and add in some gear ratios at a later date…


The project already has a 20×4 LCD, 8 Softkeys which will give SlideLeft, Slide Right, Pitch Up, Pitch Down, Rotate Clockwise, Rotate Counter Clockwise, a ‘Back’ Button and an ‘Enter’ key.


This will be my most adventurous user interface programming to date so hopefully it goes smoothly, the planned menu/workflow is to be:

  • Return Carriage to ‘Home’ position by hand.
  • Set start point using soft keys.
  • Set end point using soft keys.
  • Enable and set mid point if required using soft keys.
  • Select mode of operation.
  • Then a monitor screen while it sets off and does it’s thing.

It with have a built in real time clock to keep timing precise and fire the camera shutter when required.

The modes of operation are to be a Single move, ‘Ping-Pong’ where the carriage repeatedly moves from start to finish and back again, and ‘Shoot-Move-Shoot’ for timelapse where after selecting ‘SMS’ mode it will ask for total duration , number of exposures and the shutter speed, it will then trigger the camera and move the carriage/pan/tilt the correct amount to complete the move over the total duration of time given, it’ll also calculate and move at a speed so the camera can finish the move completely and have time to settle between exposures.

It’s definitely an ambitious project but one that will be fun i’m sure, watch this space for further updates…

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