This guy built a DIY cablecam using a cheap radio controlled car
Cablecams are a lot of fun, but they’re not inexpensive, even if you need just something small for your action camera. There are commercial solutions out there, like the Wiral Lite, but they’re pretty expensive for what they are. Perhaps even more so than the camera you’re mounting to it.
When Kasper at MAKESOME was asked by his friend Mick if he could help design and build one for his Insta360 ONE R, though, he jumped at the chance, and did take some inspiration from the Wiral Lite, but based the electronics off a cheap radio controlled car, to brilliant effect.
The video runs for about 17 minutes and is certainly not a “how-to”. It’s aimed squarely at makers and goes through the process of testing out the RC car’s features, prototyping and design iterations to get to the final product and the little hiccups along the way.
While the radio control features came from a cheap RC car, the actual motor they ended up sing came from an old HP printer. It’s powered by a Tattu 650mAh 3S LiPo battery and uses an Arduino Nano with an L298N double H-bridge to drive the DC motor. A number of 3D printed parts were created using Solidworks and then 3D printed on the Prusa i3 Mk3.
Kasper explains a lot of the thought process that goes into his design ideas and concepts throughout the build, which are quite interesting. Again, though, this isn’t a how-to, and I’m not sure if he even released the STL files to be able to 3D print one of your own, but it should give you a lot of great insight into how you can tackle building something like this yourself.
The Insta360 ONE R and 360° cameras in general are particularly well suited to this kind of thing vs a regular action camera, due to the fact that it shoots in a 360° angle around itself and you can keyframe the angle afterwards to produce your final 2D footage. It allows you to get shots that would otherwise be virtually impossible to get with a traditional camera (unless you got very lucky).
The idea to cannibalise an RC car for some of the components, though, was pretty genius. And the wireless aspect of it certainly looked like much less hassle than trying to create something from scratch with the native Arduino wireless solutions.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.