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  1. #1
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    So I am making a cable cam system...

    Hey guys I just wanted to stop by and see if I could get some input and opinions. I am working on a cable camera system with action sports (specifically mountain biking) in mind. I noticed a few months ago that cable camera systems were very expensive and that the average person was not going to invest $5K+ for a zip-line camera system especially if it was big, heavy, hard to set-up, and fragile. After doing some research I found that there really was not much out there for the little guy. So after doing some research I found that most guys who do non professional videos tend to use gravity powered cable camera systems because they are cheap and easy to work. I built one and was not happy with the amount of messing around it took to get the speeds and angles right. So I have developed a prototype R/C cable camera that I will be able to mass produce for MUCH less than the big guys and that will be simple and easy to work and setup.

    A bit about the system I have come up with. The current prototype was designed using CAD software and was printed on my 3D printer using plastic and uses hobby level electronics for pan/tilt and drive. I am using a belt drive system coupled to a brushless out-runner motor that is rated at 500KV (that is 500 RPM per volt supplied to the motor). Though my current set up allows for up to a 6S LiPo battery to be used (about 24 volts) I have only tested the system up to a 3S LiPo (11.1 volts) and the system was hitting about 30MPH. Because of the size of the motor (big and powerful) and battery this speed is virtually independent of the angle of the cable. That means it can do about 30 (on a 3S LiPo) up or down a slope. This speed could be modified using different gearing though to suite almost any speed. One of the cool things I have noticed is that the battery lasts for a LONG time because it isn’t using much torque because the system is so light. Another advantage of the lightness is that you do not need high tension in the cable so you can use small diameter cable (steel or other) and can use small trees as tethers. Because the system will have rollers that can apply appropriate tension to the line over the drive wheel it will have grip on the cable regardless of tension.

    My plan is to refine the design of my cable camera system until I feel I have a reliable “alpha” product and then start crowd funding for support on my cable camera system. One HUGE advantage I have is that I can produce all the parts minus the electronics using my own CNC equipment. This means that I will have very low overhead and be able to offer the system at a great price to the consumer. Even more is that I won’t be asking for some ridiculous amount of funding because I only need enough money to buy raw materials! The final product will be CNC milled out of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) plastic and will be super rugged. Also, the plan is to offer a kit where you can you use your own R/C parts, a electronics and plastics kit that offers almost everything minus the controller and radio and a full kit that offers everything except the cable and camera. Parts will also be readily available to the customer as spares/replacements.

    Currently the system will be designed to work with a GoPro mounting system with Pan (about 360 currently) and Tilt but I have plans to offer additional camera mounting options and add on functions such as auto stabilize and FPV (first person view where you see what the camera sees in real time). The end product will be very tough with spare parts available at reasonable costs, will be light enough to run on virtually any rope/cable (my first 100’ cable was rated at 200LB and it worked fine), small enough to take with you into the trials while riding a bike, strong enough to take some knocks and keep going, and cheap enough that the average guy can afford it (if you can afford a GoPro then you well be able to afford this), and simple enough for one guy to set up.

    So there is the basics… The final product will look much nicer and won't have wires going everywhere but here is a picture of it. I have been so busy working on the thing that I haven't been taking pictures of it!

    Thoughts, feelings, concerns, etc....

    So I am making a cable cam system...-cimg3703.jpg

  2. #2
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    1) have you thought about your costs and what the market will let you charge?

    2)Is the amateur market really in the need for this with all the pov cameras? Don't take this the wrong way, if it is done well and at a lower cost the the other systems you can always go after the professionals and the film industries.

    3) would the amateurs really take the time to set this up?
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  3. #3
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    Here is a thread that started a couple of years ago Radio Controled Zipline Dolly

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by deke505 View Post
    1) have you thought about your costs and what the market will let you charge?

    2)Is the amateur market really in the need for this with all the pov cameras? Don't take this the wrong way, if it is done well and at a lower cost the the other systems you can always go after the professionals and the film industries.

    3) would the amateurs really take the time to set this up?

    1. Yes I have and not taking my labor into account I figure that cost of this thing (for me to produce) will be very low as I will be using readily available materials and again, I can do all machining my self on my equipment. This will translate into a very low cost for the end customer. Another big advantage to in house production is that I have no minimums for production 10 - 1000+ I can produce them without worry about investments into large amounts of stock material.

    2. This isn't a "need" item. This is an item that likely only a small percentage of people will want but they will be glad it is available to them. I can't say that every adventure enthusiast will want one but again the price I feel will be a big selling point.

    3. All I can say is that I have done a 200 foot span of cable in 10 minutes start to finish. If some friends are out getting some video I don't think they will mind the spending a few minutes setting up a 5 pound camera. Again, no need to carry steel cable into the woods with you as it can run on virtually any rope (within reason).


    Quote Originally Posted by SandSpur
    Here is a thread that started a couple of years ago http://forums.mtbr.com/videos-pov-ca...ly-705041.html
    Thanks for the link! Looking at NastyNick's design I can see he spent a lot of time designing it to be adjustable and simple (and sexy IMO). I do see however some drawbacks to that design. First is that there is no Pan or Tilt on his camera thus you have to point the camera for each shot you take. That makes it simple but also makes it likely you will miss your shot! Also, that is some significant machining that must happen to that main body; if he doesn't have his own CNC machine then that would be expensive to produce on a large scale! Other than that, it is a nice design. BUT I think that the $3,400 price tag is a bit higher than my system will be....by maybe 10 times! I don't have a cost yet but it will be much, much, much lower...
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  5. #5
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    Re: So I am making a cable cam system...

    That is really sweet, especially being the price range your aiming for. Taking videos for pure fun to throw on YouTube and Facebook will get this a following because its actually affordable. Even a small group of friends could see a use in this, or purely on your own. Adds a new angle to making videos and ya pov cameras are cool but i myself and I could see many others I know would have a blast with this cause it allows the camera to follow you or lead you and ur in the shot.

    Plus rc control= simple, cheap, reliable, durable. Hell I have most of what's needed laying in my garage for the electronics side if not all.

    I say thumbs up and ill be watching this. Might not be a huge following in the mtb world but i know we would use the **** outta it here locally at club outings and personally me and my 7yr old son would have a blast making videos with it.

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  6. #6
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    It's an awesome idea, but I probably wouldn't bother with it. However, I think a LOT of people would pay a few bucks to see themselves on a good video - like when you get your picture taken on a roller coaster. If you had a well-made 10 second video clip of every rider coming down a cool trail section, you're bound to sell a few of the clips. This cable cam would give you a really good vantage point. How long of a cable would you need to get a 10 second video clip? 300ft? That might be your limiting factor - if the trail doesn't have a long enough run to string the cable, or if the set-up time is too long for the resulting (brief) video clip. Our trails are too twisty.

    You could team up with the quad copter guys.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleas View Post
    It's an awesome idea, but I probably wouldn't bother with it. However, I think a LOT of people would pay a few bucks to see themselves on a good video - like when you get your picture taken on a roller coaster. If you had a well-made 10 second video clip of every rider coming down a cool trail section, you're bound to sell a few of the clips. This cable cam would give you a really good vantage point. How long of a cable would you need to get a 10 second video clip? 300ft? That might be your limiting factor - if the trail doesn't have a long enough run to string the cable, or if the set-up time is too long for the resulting (brief) video clip. Our trails are too twisty.

    You could team up with the quad copter guys.

    -F
    Your thoughts are valid Fleas. There is setup time involved and the end result may be a 50' run for the camera system that only takes 2 seconds of video. This however is up the the end user to figure out. I have had many short-er point to point shots setup and it can feel like it is a bit much for such a short distance. Trail choice is a huge decision when setting up one of these and really there is no way around it...you have to pick the right place to set this thing up! Just remember that while it may only take the camera 4 seconds to go full speed from one end of the cable to the other; this is not likely how fast the rider is going! Just because the camera can do 30+ does not mean you will be doing that speed all the time. In fact, some of my shots were done just barely moving the camera.

    multi-copters is on my list of things to work with latter but right now they are too expensive. My product here is going to be designed so that anyone can set up professional quality point to point shots without breaking the bank so to speak. My goal however is to recycle all my earnings back into my venture and use the money for R&D for other camera systems that includes multi-copters and other fun camera systems.
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  8. #8
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    I will get some pictures and videos of the current prototype put up for you guys in a few days so you can see what the design looks like and how it works.
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  9. #9
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    So I am making a cable cam system...

    I, for one, would be interested in this. I built a gravity powered cable cam and haven't used it enough, but I really want to build a radio controlled one. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I'd be doing in building it, so a low-cost one would be pretty cool.

  10. #10
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    I have been working hard on getting the 3D side of the design done but got a while to go yet. So far I am probably going to be looking at having a production model by the beginning of the next riding season. I will however likely have the Beta model ready in a month or two and that is where I will start actively posting information and updates. I have the 3D models for CNC work about done and then I will have some good videos and pictures. Two of the coolest features will be the snap in guide wheels allowing the cable cam to be installed and removed from the cable without any tools and the self adjusting drive wheel that well allow the user to run any tension in the cable they like (within reason) without needing to do anything to the cable cam system. This is by far one of the biggest issues I have had to overcome. Sometimes low tension is needed because you want the cam to swoop down midway and then go back up and sometimes you want the cam to zip back and forth without any change in height. With my system there will be no need to change anything between these two settings. Can't wait to show you guys the designs!
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  11. #11
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    I finally have some pictures to share! They will come faster now that I started cutting out the parts. The blue parts were made on a 3D printer but will be cut out on my CNC machine just like the rest. Now that I am really starting to develop the physical product I really need to start finding ways of getting the word out about my soon to be product! I think I am looking at having a product for sale by the beginning of next year if everything goes well.

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  12. #12
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    I built a cheapo cable cam a few years back and if you are doing it solo, an RC system would really be beneficial - hard to ride and start the cable cam rolling at the same time... it can be done just a pain.

    I think I spent like $15 constructing mine give or take - a trip to the hardware store to buy a small 2x4, paint, fasteners, rope, and 2 plastic pulleys and I was set.

    Setup is probably the biggest reason I don't even mess with it, I have done it successfully just hauling the rope and stuff into the woods along with the rest of the gear to me was just too cumbersome. I would just as presumably use a tripod or gorilla tripod to get the external shots in as they are easier to carry around and require less setup.
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  13. #13
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    Yeah I can only imagine the issues with trying to time a underpowered cable cam with your bike riding! Setting up a cable camera is tough but that is one of the things I was working to overcome. The whole system is being developed to hopefully fit in a full size book bag (so far so good!) and be very easy to put on and take off the cable. Speaking of cable, I am working with amsteel blue cable that is much lighter than steel cable but yet is much stronger. A 3/16" amsteel blue cable is rated at over 4,500 lbs; that is insane! Normal synthetic rope at this size is around 200lbs at best. The only issues I am running into is that it is a bit slippery for the drive wheel and causes some slippage but I think messing with the durometer of the rubber on the drive wheel will help this issue.
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  14. #14
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    I haven't read all the comments yet but I read most of them. That being said I was looking to improve my camera shots a couple years ago and I was convinced that a zipline was the way to go so I set out to Home Depot buying little pulleys, cable and different parts. Once I had something that I thought would work I realized how much effort it took to set up. Also, living in Mesa, AZ most of my riding does not include trees. We are in the desert and mostly ride through shrubs and cacti (no where to set up a zipline). Eventually, my excitement about the zipline died and I moved on to wanting a quadcopter. I have found the quad to be much more versatile than my zipline and actually take less time to set up. I think a good zipline has its place and gets some great shots but I've been able to get the same shots and more with the quad. Getting set up with a quad is a lot more expensive than a zipline but at the same time it is a lot of fun. Good luck on your design and hopefully you'll be able to fill the niche that needs a zipline.

    By the way I'm not bashing on the zipline I was just sharing my experience. I love making videos and am always trying to find ways to improve. https://vimeo.com/user2354930

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    I am looking forward to someday having a multi copter but they do not work so well in the woods where most of the type of riding I want to capture is. Maybe a pro pilot can navigate between trees but I would not want to try to with a expensive flying camera. Not only would you have to carefully fly between trees and avoid people, you would need to capture video! Cable cameras are great for repeatability. It may not be the best thing to set up if you are going to only capture one guy doing one run but if you are going to capture many people going over the same area then it is the best thing you could have!
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  16. #16
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    To everyone who would like to follow the developments of my cable camera system please go to my new facebook page for Aero Camz. If you have interest in this system please follow my age so I can keep you up to date on developments. In a few weeks I will be going out to test out the 2.0 prototype and hopefully shoot some awesome DH videos!

    https://www.facebook.com/aerocamz
    Last edited by steven_first; 10-04-2013 at 05:10 AM. Reason: updated link
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