I have no formal training or professional experience as a mechanical engineer. I would like to design a rotating base that is powered by a motor. I would like to accomplish the following:

  1. Smooth, quiet operation
  2. Self-locking (as could be accomplished with a worm drive)
  3. Minimal wobbling of the rotating part of the base
  4. Minimal loss of power (forgive me if "power" is the wrong word here) due to friction.
  5. The rotating part of the base doesn't fall off if the device is held up-side-down.

I'm thinking of using a worm drive (with a helical worm wheel) and thrust bearings. But I'm confused about how the thrust bearings would be attached such that the thing would be able to handle the axial loads from the worm drive, as well as avoid simply falling apart. Believe it or not, I've been researching this question for weeks and I'm still confused. Maybe I'm not mechanically inclined. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Have you ever taken a record playing turntable apart? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ was going to ask the same thing! $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ You can buy turntables that are meant for advertising purppses for 100 dollars for a decently sized one and a 200 for a quite large one. Its much easier to buy than build your own as it requires quite accurate parts and a metal workshop to get working, and in anycase its cheaper to buy one ready made than build your own. Besides they work on mains electricity which you would require a electrician for so... $\endgroup$
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 5:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What sort of base? You mean like a base of a turntable below a small figurine, or an Antarctic base with housing for the crew and some laboratories? $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 12:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Without giving the scale or purpose of the turntable this question is very broad. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


If you are not mechanically inclined, and depending on your budget, you may find it easier to just buy one than to build your own. Check out these offerings from McMaster Carr. Costs a few hundred, but that might be better than spending weeks trying to figure out how to build it yourself. If that is not the size or speed you want, they also sell non-motorized versions that you could then just add a motor to. Other companies might sell other sizes, this is just the first company I tried.

  • $\begingroup$ Look to the usual optics companies as well - Thorlabs, Newport, Edmund Optics, Pro-lite, Aerotech, Standa, etc. Search for motorized rotary stage $\endgroup$
    – D Duck
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 21:49

In the past I have used trailer hubs for moderately heavy duty rotating platforms (around a few 100 kg capacity). This vastly simplifies the problem as you have a complete assembly which you can just weld or bolt onto a base.

I would also look as a belt drive as these tend to be inherently fairly smooth and quiet and are reasonably simple to set up, you can get motors with built in very low ration gearboxes off the shelf. If you use a hub assembly you might be able to drive it with a belt straight onto the outside of the hub itself

If you can't find a suitable hub you should probably look at taper roller bearings as these will support both thrust and radial loads


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