Maia Media | How to make your own DIY Cable Cam
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diy cable cam2

How to make your own DIY Cable Cam

  |   Adventure, Bikes, Film Making   |   9 Comments

At first I thought it was impossible but increasingly I’ve been coming round to the idea especially if we keep it simple.
 
So there’s two key elements to a cable cam. The rope/cable the camera runs on and the unit holding the camera. Our first choice of cable or rope was decided for us. Coming from a climbing background I had plenty of rope and kit to get it reasonably tense so we decided on 10mm semi static rope as our ‘cable’. The major issue for us was the design and build of the unit. I had seen a really good version on the web so decided to pretty much copy it.
 
Cable Cam Diagram
 
We selected some heavy duty aluminium box section, found in my Dad’s shed. (We saw some steel or Aluminium box section in B&Q which would have been fine.) Cutting the box section to length was easily done, we cut it at about 75cm. The frame for the camera to sit in was made by bending the drilled steel plate to make a squared off U shape. The tilting plate for the camera was made using a cut to shape section of plywood and the corner brackets from B&Q screwed together. These all bolted together with some M6 threaded bolts cut to size and butterfly nuts. The thought then was to use cord to attach the pulleys to the box section once the cable was in place. This was all bought and cobbled together in about 4 hours on a Sunday afternoon.
 

 
Some lightweight steel plate with holes already drilled in it looked to be perfect for the frame for the camera to sit in. We also found some corner sections of steel in the roofing section of B&Q which worked perfectly as the tilting bottom plate for the camera once we screwd a section of plywood to it.
 

 

 

 
The first version used petzl fixe pulleys but these are too heavy duty and not free running enough. The second version, 2.0, used the wheels from some half decent rollerblades we picked up at a bargain price.
 
They had some very smooth ABEC 5 bearings in them. We cut some aluminium bar into 4 equal sections and gave them a slight flare to take into account the additional width of two wheels side by side compared to the width of the box section. We drilled holes at either end and then bolted the plate tot he box section and the wheels with appropriate spacers to the aluminium plate. Very smooth rolling with no discernable vibration.
 

 
The rope we used was a semi static rope bought in a climbing shop, a bunch of climbign slings and screwgates. The major piece of kit that does all the work was a Petzl protraxion, essentially a pulley+locking mechanism. Attach rope at desired trees using slings then tension at one end using protraxion and a lot of grunt power. Attach cable cam to tensioned rope and get ready to film.
 

Here’s our three top tips for making your own DIY Cable Cam.

 

These are some stills from the short film we made but you can watch the DIY cable cam video by clicking here.


 

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9 Comments
  • Jonny collins | Apr 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    how much was it to make that whole rig. can you give the links to the places you got the parts to make it

    • Hannah | Apr 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Pretty much everything was bought from B & Q except the roller blade wheels which were from a toy shop. We already had everything associated with the cable from out climbing days. It’s probably the rope that will be the most expensive purchase.

  • Paulo Torres | Jan 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Hi
    I’m trying to “copy” your idea for a cable cam and i need one information please. Can you tell me the peaces that you use to fix the cable to the tree? I know that is material from climbing but i dont know what kind of. I’m talking about that particular device that you use to lock the cable and that is attached to the carabiner.
    Thank you very much
    Paulo

    • Hannah | Jan 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Paul, We used a ‘sling’ and a ‘carabiner’ at either end. Hope that helps. Good luck.

    • Hannah | Jan 12, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      Just realised which bit you meant. That’s called a Protraction made by Petzl. We used it to tension the rope. It’s worth noting though, that we have realised sometimes a slightly slacker rope can be better so it might be worth experimenting before you go out and buy one.

  • Mike | Feb 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Hi,

    I am also thinking about building such a cablecam !

    one question: in what way does the cam get stopped at the end of the rope (smooth ;) )

    Regards,
    Mike

    • Hannah | Feb 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Hi Mike, We only put a pretty basic stopping mechanism together which was to just lay a towel over the cable a few metres from the tree. As long as you remember to spread the towel out each time it did a good job of stopping the device. Other people have suggested more sophisticated mechanisms with bungee cords etc but I’ve never tried. Good luck!

  • Garrith | Jul 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hey Hannah, you mention on your youtube video to check out your light gopro version however clicking the link only makes the current video reload, either that’s a very smart way of grossing views for your video or its just a simple mistake ;) if you do have your gopro version id love to see it. Thanks G

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