Build Your Own Camera Gyro-Stabilizer With a Spare Hard Drive

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The most extreme camera operators use a gyro attachment for their camera to get smooth, steady shots. This applies to both still and motion (video) photography. The attachment works by two internal gyroscopes spinning in opposite directions, creating an X-Y stabilization pattern. In an rough, rocky environment (helicopters, boats, Deadliest Catch), the gyroscopic effect holds the camera steady, resulting in a much smoother shot.

You can buy camera gyros from places like Kenyon Laboratories, however such high precision results in a seriously high price tag – they can easily cost over $10k. Or, if you have a couple external hard drives laying around, plus some USB phone chargers and a few scraps of wood, you can assemble your own lightweight gyro assembly following the steps in this great Instructable.

Two things to try:
-Use 2.5″ laptop drives for size (they may not have enough mass to stabilize anything larger than the smallest pocket cameras)
-Putting the drives in-line instead of a 90º offset

UPDATE: BobS, the designer of this gyro system has posted instructions and samples for a much smaller single-drive gyro system – and it looks like it works pretty well.

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15 thoughts on “Build Your Own Camera Gyro-Stabilizer With a Spare Hard Drive”

  1. How do you make the drives spin at their maximum speed. I tried this a few years back but they kept spinning up and down and I couldn’t get consistent results?

    One thing you can try is taking several drives apart and adding additional platters in the drive. Their all pretty much the same size, but the thickness may vary a bit. I could tell a big difference when putting several platters in one drive. You could also try higher rpm drives (if you can find 10,000 or 15,000 rpm drives that are busted that would probably be best).

  2. A 48x cd writer can do bursts at 24,000 rpm.  Couldn’t we get our hands on a metal disc, throw it in there, and use a CD drive as a more powerful gyro?  It’s not hard to open the drive and fiddle around with the hardware in there to make it a little more robust.  I say a metal disc because it would be heavier.

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