Track & Dolly for Video

In 2005, a friend asked me to develop a heavy duty dolly and track system for use in video production. I designed and fabricated all of the parts and assemblies.



First 3D sketches

It's been a couple months since the idea was first presented to me and I guess I have been dragging my ass in some ways but hey, I've been busy!

This is my preliminary design for the wheels for the dolly. There will be 4 of them, one in each corner. I'm still hashing out the ideal dimensions for the platform but basically it should be large enough to safely hold the tripod with camera and operator and possibly an assistant.

Hopefully I'll have more progress soon. I'm determined to now let this project fall the way of some of the others in here. (Or I'll have to change it to be called "Ben's project graveyard". LOL)



Refined, but still just concept

Tomorrow I'm meeting with a friend to discuss the possibility of getting help assembling this bad boy. I've been working on it bits, off and on and have decided on some definite criteria as well as revised the design a bit.

- 1.5"x1.5" square steel tubing mitred and arranged to form a rectangle with outer dims of 26"x34"

- Adequate thickness of steel as decking

- Each wheel assembly is composed of 4 skateboard wheels with bearings in some sort of carriage made of angle iron, bolts, nuts, and some flatbar

- Should be able to support, 250 lb man + 50 lb. gear + 150 lb man (optional sound guy)

- Should be fairly lightweight, under 50 lbs.

- Wheel assemblies have integral main shaft that is inserted up through frame and fastened with a heavy duty cotter pin installed through a opening in the underside of the platform

- Handlebar is fastened to hinge with 0.5? dia pin and locked with heavy duty cotter pin



Wheel Prototype

It looks really good. It would, of course, look even better if it was actually welded and not just held in place by electricians tape.

I had a great day today though. Spent quite a few hours running around getting all the parts I needed and then a few hours in the shop in the late evening drilling holes, enlarging holes (a 64th at a time) and pressing the bushings into the stock. You can see the bronze bushings I found between the two (top and bottom) pieces.



The steel has arrived

Finally got the funding for the project and was at my local metal supermarkets the next day with shopping list in hand. Special thanks to Adam from Metal Supermarkets for his excellent help preparing my pieces of steel and aluminum for this project.

So the next step is to drill and grind and get all the pieces prepped for welding. This is going to be sooooo cool!!



The finished product

On Friday I put the wheels onto the welded and platformed frame and bought some 1/8" wall aluminum tubing, cut some temporary cedar ties and voila : a pro-quality working track and dolly.

The finished weight ended up being in the realm of 40 lbs., which is a bit heavy but it's very solid. I suspect it could hold approx. 300 lbs. without buckling. Being able to push it with that kind of weight is another story of course.

I'm doing some research into adding power to the motion of the machine. Would love to be able to use a 12V battery to move the dolly along the track at 1-5 meters per minute.

All-in-all this project has worked out fantastically! I've impressed even myself with what I could build with enough time and research.



FridayTrak Unleashed

At $10/foot and $30 for a pair of connectors it's not cheap stuff. They're made from high-quality aluminum alloy and acetal is the material used for the couplers. Could only find acetal bar in 1.5" diameter though and so had to try out my metal lathe for the first time. Worked like a charm when I figured out what I was doing and I managed to machine it down to exactly 1.2" in diameter. Perfect fit!