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Weekend Workshop: How to build a brushless gimbal to shoot super stable video

Need something to keep you busy this weekend? Look no further. The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. We’ve dug through all the online tutorials on the Web, and gone the extra mile to pinpoint projects that are equal parts easy, affordable, and fun. So put on your work pants, grab your tool belt, and head to the garage — it’s time to start building!

Gimbals — aka those crazy camera stabilizer rigs — have only been around for a few years at this point, but in the short time they’ve been available, they’ve become a staple of professional and amateur filmmakers. Unlike the bulky, cumbersome SteadiCam rigs of yesteryear, gimbals stabilize your camera by measuring external shakes and bumps, and using a series of brushless motors to instantaneously cancel them out. This process produces incredibly smooth video footage — but unfortunately, the tech that powers it is still fairly expensive. A good 3-axis gimbal can cost you anywhere from 500 to 5,000 dollars, and that’s not even counting the camera. But as is the case with most things, you can easily build your own gimbal for a fraction of the usual retail cost.

If you’re not averse to going the DIY route, Instructables user thehydoctor has put together a professional-looking 2-axis gimbal that you can make with just a few electronic components and some carbon fiber. The build only requires two brushless motors ($40 apiece), a controller board ($40), and a lithium polymer battery ($10). Plus, the frame can be fabricated in a number of different ways. Thehydoctor provides instructions for making it with basic hand tools, but also includes STL files for all the parts, so you can make everything with a 3D printer or a CNC router (if you have one, of course). Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Tools

  • Drill
  • 3.2mm drill bit
  • Dremel (with bits for cutting/sanding carbon fiber)
  • Respirator mask (carbon fiber dust is dangerous)
  • 3D printer or CNC router (optional)

Materials

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also mount a monitor on the top of the rig. Obviously, this will cost you some extra money and require a bit more work, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll be able to see what you’re shooting while you film, which is super handy. Head over to Instructables to see the full instructions!