DIY Rotating Timelapse Rig

What’s better than a stationary timelapse video? ✨ a moving timelapse video!✨

I’m a fan of shooting timelapse video, however, when the phone isn’t attached to something moving, it can be a little boring:

However, if we rotate the phone as the timelapse is happening, we can get a much more interesting result:

I’ll be showing you how to modify a mechanical kitchen timer into a Rotating Timelapse rig that I used to capture that second video!

What I used

  1. Rotating (mechanical/clockwork) Kitchen Timer
  2. Leatherman (Pliers and Phillips Screwdriver)
  3. Mini Hacksaw
  4. Steel L Bracket
  5. Epoxy Glue
  6. Rubber Bands

The Process

Everytime your timer hits zero, you’ll have to hear it ring. That can be pretty annoying and incompatible with quieter environments so let’s silence that first.

Pull off the front rotating “arrow”:

Seperate the halves:

Remove the back plate and the three screws holding the metal housing to the mechanism:

The mechanism can now be removed:

This is the “hammer” that strikes the metal housing to create the ringing sound:

You can either use the pliers to snap it in half, causing it to make a more plasticky buzzy sound:

Or alternatively remove the pin that holds it in place, silencing it completely:

After re-assembly, I reverse mounted the mechanism so I can see the moving parts and there’s some extra height:

Now to create a holder for a phone, the curved pointer is cut so it has a flat surface:

Then the L-bracket is epoxy-ed on:

And now you can use a rubber band to mount your phone at any angle between 0 and 90° (seen here facing straight up, the exact setup used to shoot this palm tree):

So just turn the dial all the way to max, turn on the time lapse mode on your phone’s camera, mount your phone, aim it and relax. Just make sure you can hear the ticking to make sure it’s working!

Post-Build Summary

As a DIY project, this was fun and can provide some awesome results. However, the device has some drawbacks. It can only rotate anti-clockwise (panning right to left) with a fixed rotation rate of 360°/hour. Also it doesn’t have female (below) and male (on top) tripod mounts to allow for easy connection of accessories. Thus, unless you already have an old kitchen timer ready to be sacrificed, I’d recommend you just buy something like this instead. Or if you have have R9k to burn (price @ 01/05/2021) then buy this.

The Future

Rebuilding it to be more compact with standard tripod mounts would be awesome. For now, I’m happy though!

If you have any questions/would like to share your experience with time lapse videos or DIY video rigs, please leave a reply below. To get an email when I write another post, please click here to subscribe. Thanks for reading!

It blows me away that this is an unedited image taken with a phone. What a time to be alive 😍

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