A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head (Made With An Old CD, And Handmade Gears)

Andrea Biffi is a photographer who happens to be an engineer. Good for everybody as he shares a smart totally made-at-home motorized panoramic head. (Kinda like the Gigapan systems heads, only simpler).

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

Just as a quick intro, a motorized panoramic head is what you use to take huge panoramas (like this 450 people pano taken in Germany). It takes a picture, moves the camera a few degrees, takes another picture. Rinse and repeat. Later, the individual photographs are stitched in post to create a huge, several Gigas worth of panorama.

Back to Andrea’s head. The ingenious part behind Andreas design is that it is purely mechanical.

The left/right movement is achieved by freeing the tripod’s head (a Benro B1) for horizontal movement.

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

The driver of the panoramic head is a gear box, which is actually a salvaged part from an old CD reader. The motor that pushes the tray in and out.

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

The gears that move the head are hand sketched, drilled and sanded. This means that each lens focal length has its own set of gears to get similar coverage, but there are several gears made to fit each focal length.

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

The camera is triggered when the gears hit a momentary switch, connected to a DIY release cable.

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

This is what the final construction looks like

A Hand Made Motorized Panoramic Head

Here is how the entire thing operates, pretty cool, he?

As a last bonus, Andrea has build a similar, improved,  version that uses a laser cut set of gears, which a much higher rotation resolution. 

For the complete account of the build and instructions check out Andrea’s motorized head and improved motorized head instructables.

  • http://www.dgvelab.com/ DGVeLab

    Great idea and great job, congratulations.
    I’ll try to build one to match it to my DGV trigger to make panoramas in HDR.
    Again congratulations for the job.

  • mk

    I don’t see much use. For proper panorama you need panoramic head, not ordinary ball head. And you still need to manage pitch manualy.

  • zyga
    • Rick

      If you want to wait an hour per revolution. If you want to knock it out in a minute or two where the sun won’t have moved much for the next lap across, this is a much better solution.

  • Rick

    I wish I had known sooner about the easy to use motors in the CD drives.