People choose different types of cameras for filmmaking, depending on their skills and needs: smartphones are ideal for beginners, action cameras are great for recording on-the-go, and DSLRs have made it possible for everyone to do film production on a professional level. But unwanted vibrations and shakes can make recorded footage look unsteady—which is where gimbal stabilizers come in handy.
While gimbals are a fairly new piece of equipment, they’ve become an essential part of camera rigs for filmmakers. This handheld tool lets you film in many different ways by isolating your camera from your movements, which enables you to move freely without disrupting the steadiness of your shot.
Just a few years ago, a brand-name gimbal would cost thousands of dollars, though prices have dropped drastically since. In fact, you can now buy a pretty good brand-name gimbal for a couple of hundred dollars (the average brand-name gimbal for the GoPro can easily hit $200 or more). Nevertheless, you can still save a lot of money and enjoy steady camera shots by making your own gimbal.
Two-Axis vs. Three-Axis
The two main types of gimbals are two-axis gimbals and three-axis gimbals. For the two-axis gimbals, the device is equipped with two rings and two motors that allow your camera to tilt and roll, while stabilizing the footage as you move. Three-axis gimbals, on the other hand, can do the same but also enable you to pan your camera smoother from left to right.
Which gimbal type do users prefer? Some gimbal users think two-axis gimbals are easier to control and keep the movement snappier, while others prefer the smoother movements that three-axis gimbals provide.
In this article, we’ll show you how to make DIY camera stabilizers for action cameras, smartphones, and DSLRs, which can be a cost-effective solution to brand-name gimbals.
DIY Gimbal for DSLR Cameras
- Aluminum tube clamps
- Carbon fiber tubes
- Carbon Fiber Sheets
- Brushless motors
- Gimbal controller (brushless)
- Flange bearings
- Bearing shafts
- Pitch arms
- 5 Press nuts
- Heat shrink tubing
- Respirator mask
- Drill bit
- CNC or 3D printer
How to Build:
Instructables user Thehydoctor created an in-depth tutorial on how to build a premium-looking DIY two-axis gimbal. You get a professional-looking camera rig using a few electronic components and some carbon fiber.
The construction of the whole gimbal requires two brushless motors, a controller board, and a lithium polymer battery, while the frame can be fabricated in multiple ways. The process itself is tedious but Thehydoctor shows you how to make the two-axis gimbal using basic tools. He also provides STL files for all of the parts in case you need to make them with a CNC router or 3D printer.
To take things up a notch, he gives you the option to mount a monitor on your rig. This will, of course, cost you more. But the end result enables you to mount at least a seven-inch monitor on your two-axis gimbal stabilizer, which allows you to see your shot as you film.
DIY Gimbal for Action Cameras
- Screw Driver
- A piece of wood
- Angle Brackets Corner Brace Steel
- Four bottle caps
- Scooter handle for kids
How to Build:
YouTube user, Brains techKnowlogy, shows users how to make a simple and cheap three-axis gimbal. First, carve a piece of wood into the shape and size of the scooter handle’s hole. Then drill a hole into the wood and insert one of the bolts before lodging the wood into the handle’s hole. After that, attach the corner brace steel together using the bolts and nuts. Use the plastic bottle caps to cover the bolts and nuts using glue. For the final touch, bolt the corner brace steel onto the handle.
DIY Gimbal for Action Cameras & Smartphones
- Three-axis gimbal
- GoPro Mounts
- Waterproof Box
- Steel Tube Rod
- End Grips of Bicycle Handles
How to Build:
In the video, YouTube user Shane reveals how he builds his homemade three-axis gimbal. When you buy the gimbal, it comes with a baseplate and a variety of screws. For the box, turn it upside down and place the baseplate on the back of it. Make sure to mark each corner where you’ll be mounting the gimbal with the screws to know where to drill the holes for the screws.
Slip the bicycle grips over the ends of the steel rods. Mark the section of the rod where you want to make the cut. For the mounting pieces, you’ll have to print a 3D design so that the steel rods will fit (he also made his 3D mounting piece, available for download here).
For the GoPro mounts, peel off the flat from their backs and stick them to the sides of the box. Attach the 3D mounts into the slots of the GoPro mounts and screw in the steel rods. Once you’re done, you’re all set to try out your new DIY three-axis gimbal.
About the Author
Shane Haumpton is a writer and photographer from New Hampshire, USA. You can check out more of her work by following her on Twitter.