As smartphone quality is increasing, people are increasingly embracing photography as a means of expressing themselves, and that’s great. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for filmmaking even though that technology is also becoming more and more accessible to amateur users. That can, perhaps in part, be explained by the difficulties in turning what you’re imagining into film footage. After all, the results are often unfocussed or too shaky. But fortunately, there is a very simple 3D printing solution to this problem: the 3D printed OpenSAM camera stabilizer.
As is so often the case, students come up with simple solutions for hard problems, and this time the solution has come from the Technical University of Denmark. OpenSAM was developed by engineering students Oliver Topp, Henning Si Høj and Mathias Grelck Johnsen. The concept is simple: a mechanical creation that holds your camera and compensates or negates any shaking caused by movement. And as you can see in the footage below, the results are completely different from what you and I could do with our hands and own sense of balance.
As the trio of students explain, their design can be used for both filmmaking amateurs and professionals, and can even incorporate a largely variety of cameras of all shapes, sizes and weights. ‘It is handheld and the entire mechanical construct is built using 3D printed parts. Brushless motors ensure the camera is stable and they can be controlled using a joystick. Now gimbals like this may exist in plenty, but we think ours is unique because of its use of additive manufacturing. That makes the system very cheap to build and easy to reconstruct,’ they explain. ‘The 3D printed parts are also lightweight (actually lighter than any commercial carbon-based designs). All parts were printed in PLA using Ultimaker Original 3D Printers or Bq Witbox 3D Printers.’
Key in the design of this stabilizer are three brushless motors to stabilize the axes. It also includes one 8-bit brushless gimbal controller (BGC), an expansion card and an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). ‘Our model seen in the video and pictures cost under 200$ including everything, except the 3D printed parts. This should be compared to the price of a similar gimbal which is from 1000$ and up,’ they write. Now that’s a great deal.
What’s more, the trio of students have decided to share their designs open source and invite everyone to benefit from hassle-free filming. All the files are open source and can be downloaded here. But as you might imagine, building this three-axis stabilizer can be slightly complex. Fortunately, they guide you through all the steps in a specially made manual that can be found here.
Aside from some rather straightforward 3D printing, you’ll need to install all the electronics and program the stabilizing software (the three studets relied on their SimpleBGC AlexMos system). Depending on your choice of electronics, this can be a bit challenging, but with such an unusually detailed manual you should be fine. Why spend thousands on a great camera if there’s a 3D printable alternative?

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