Maker Workshop – Pole Camera on MAKE: television

Want to see the world from a decidedly different point of view? Join John Park as he makes a Sky Eye / Polecam. This pole-mounted camera is fashioned from servo motors, a digital camera, and a standard remote control. John took it to the zoo to snap some sky-high shots; where will you take yours?

Read the instructional PDF.

Get the m4v or subscribe in iTunes. Or watch on YouTube or Blip.

22 thoughts on “Maker Workshop – Pole Camera on MAKE: television

  1. Andy says:

    The link to the PDF is broken


    1. Make: television says:

      the link is fixed now, thanks for the notice

  2. Rob says:

    Very cool! But how useful is the remote tilt without a viewfinder on the ground?

  3. vic says:

    I think you could do this for 1/10 the price if you used parts from a cheap rc toy.

  4. John Park says:

    Rob, thanks, glad you liked it. The tilt is helpful if a) you can’t tilt the pole where you are, and b) you take a lot of photos, varying it a little between them. Bill Gurstelle built one with a remote view video tap, but that was more than we thought we had time to go over on the show.

    Vic, great point, and I really regret that we didn’t mention that on the show. Even better would have been to show me ripping apart an RC toy and using those parts. One concern is that I’ve scavenged a few RC cars and helicopters, and none have had beefy servomotors, just PWM controlled gearhead motors. But truthfully, we never really discussed it.

    Maybe we can go open source if we get to do a second season and get input/feedback from the MAKE: community as we plan the projects for the Maker Workshop.

  5. stephan schulz says:

    i used a simple paint-roller to connect a video camera to a painters pole.

    see this link



  6. Kalei Awana says:

    I’m very excited about trying this project, but I have a couple mods I’d like to get some feedback on:

    Can servos be hardwired into a simple potentiometer or mini joystick rather than an RC controller? I’m thinking if you just ran wire from the servo (or possibly a simple electro mechanical switch?), down the pole to something mounted on the pole itself, you could reduce the camera operation to a single person.

    I love RC stuff and any excuse to buy an extra transmitter and servos is welcome, but I like the idea of being able to handle the pole by myself too.

    Also, I think it would help stabilize the pole if you added a couple of extra handles to form a T shape to allow for more extreme angles to use the rig. Obviously it wouldn’t be advisable to go too extreme if the pole is at full extension, but it would be fun to be able to hang over subjects.

    Thanks again for the great idea, like I said I’m dying to start, I just need to gather the funds and go to work!

  7. Steven says:

    Love this project, but already, hours online later, cannot find half the parts.

    1. Where did you get YOUR Radio control transmitter, receiver, and battery designed for ground use, or what are the part names and manufacturer?

    2. Hobby servomotors (2) ?

    3. ¼” diameter nylon bolt, 1½” long, nut, and washers (2)

    4. Painter’s brush extension with socket that screws onto extension pole (of this above all, I cannot find even a trace online).

    Seems to me “where to get it” and/or the brand/manufacturer names for all parts are a sine qua non for a PDF on this or any similar project. Otherwise I’ll be spending days hunting down parts and likely end up with less than ideal substitutes.


  8. Keith Spears says:

    Great idea. Question: Why should the Radio control transmitter, receiver, and battery be designed for ground use (not airplane or helicopter frequencies)?  

  9. Keith Spears says:

    Great idea. Question: Why should the Radio control transmitter, receiver, and battery be designed for ground use (not airplane or helicopter frequencies)?  

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