Complex camera rig controlled with Blender 3D

blender-3d-camera-control

This is a pretty intricate camera mount. Not only does it provide pan and tilt as the subtitles state, but it moves along a track and offers zoom and focus controls. Its great, but you’ll need an equally complex set of controls to do anything meaningful with it. That’s where the real hack comes into play. The entire system is controlled by its virtual model in Blender 3D.

You probably already know that Blender 3D is an open source 3-dimensional modeling suite. It’s got a mountain of features, which include a framework for animating virtual objects. The camera rig was replicated inside of the software, and includes a skeleton that moves just like the real thing. You can make an animation of how the camera should move, then export and play back those motions on the physical hardware.

Now if you need help making 3D models of your hardware perhaps you should try scanning them.

[Read more...]

Pan/Tilt wheel trainer ends up being a different way to play Quake

This is a special controller that [Gary Scott] built to help train camera operators. The pan and tilt controls on high-end movie cameras use wheels to pan and tilt smoothly. This rig can be built rather inexpensively and used to practice following a subject as you would with a camera. This is where the project takes a turn into familiar territory. [Gary] set up a system so that you can play the game Quake using this controller, with your feet doing the rest.

The pan/tilt controller uses two heads from an old VCR. They are mounted above the guts from an old ball-type mouse. A couple of rubber belts connect the heads to the two mouse bars that are normally rotated by the ball. This gives him control of where the Quake game is looking. But he still needed to be able to move, jump, change weapons. and shoot. So he built a second controller for his feet. It uses a CD and some switches as a joystick, and a set of buttons for the other controls. He actually rigged up solenoids to each of those foot switches to physically press keys on a keyboard. You really must see it for yourself. We’ve embedded his set of videos after the break.

[Read more...]

Wireless camera mount offers pan and tilt functions

[Chris] put together a bunch of common components to create this wireless pan and tilt system for a security camera or a robot.

The motorized base is simple enough, using two servos to make up a mount for the digital camera. In this case he used a parts package which is designed to mount the servos perpendicular to each other. You could also 3D print, our build your own brackets quite easily. The control circuitry consists of a pair of PIC 18LF4520 microcontrollers and a set of Xbee modules. This is where the wireless connectivity comes in.

On the transmitter side, a pair of potentiometers are read by the microcontroller’s ADC and translated into position values. The receiver takes those values and drives the servo motors accordingly. In the clip after the break [Chris] is using micro trimpots which require a screw driver to adjust. You might want to hit the parts bin and see if you can get some that have a more user-friendly shaft or knob.

Unfortunately this system doesn’t transmit video. But WiFi webcams are getting quite affordable so that might be a good option in this case. [Read more...]

MCU controllable camera mount

head

[psymansays] needed a panning head for his robotics projects. Already being familiar with the NXP LPC2148 from work, so he wanted to use that to control it.  he built his own carousel out of old CDs. The axle of the carousel is a potentiometer. This is what he’s using to determine position. The gear motor was actually cobbled together with bits from a windup toy and an old motor. This may be a bit bulky, but it seems not only functional, but fairly versatile.

Bug Labs introduces new BUGmodules

bug

Bug Labs, the company that makes modular electronics that allow you to build your own tech doohickeys quickly and easily, has announced five new modules: BUGprojector, a mini DLP projector developed in conjunction with Texas Instruments, which sounds very much like the tiny DLP projector we posted about last week; BUGsound, an audio processing module with four stereo input/output jacks, a microphone, a speaker, and builtin hardware codecs; BUGbee (802.15.4) and BUGwifi (802.11 and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR), which will let you connect wirelessly with your PAN and WLAN, respectively; and BUG3g GSM, for connecting to (you guessed it) 3G GSM networks. In conjunction with Bug Labs’ existing series of modules, especially the highly versatile BUGvonHippel universal module, you’ll be able to create some pretty kickass gadgets. No word yet on pricing, although Bug Labs expects to ship by the end of Q1 2009.

Roasting Pan Audio Amplifier

When you need a rigid, vibration-free chassis for your amplifier, look no further than a roasting pan. I’ve used cast cement for subwoofers, but using a cooking pan bolted to a heavy wooden chopping board is a cheap way to get a rigid surface on which to build audio gear. The amp circuitry used by [Mark] is not complex, but it gets the job done. The “oxygen free copper cable” and “pure silver wire” are not needed, just make sure you have a solid mechanical connection. In other words, just tin your wires, bend small “u” shapes at each end, hook them together, and apply solder to the heated ends. Alternatively, hold the ends of stranded wires parallel to each other and twist the ends together before tinning, then solder. Test everything with a multimeter while moving wire joints to make sure you have no weak connections. Now you won’t waste your money on hyped-up cabling materials.

Thanks to [Gio] (who seems to have some personal audio projects as well) for the tip.

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