Getting decent macro photos always seems to be a chore. Some important detail always seems to be just outside of the depth of field, or you have to be zoomed in so close that you get great detail in one spot but miss the big picture. [Nate B] had such a problem while trying to document some PC boards, and he came up with a nifty hack that uses a laser cutter and a smart phone camera to do the job.
Having first tried scanning the boards with a flat-bed scanner but finding the depth of field unsatisfactory, [Nate B] then went on to his Samsung phone’s camera. Set to panorama mode, he manually scanned across the boards and let the camera stitch the images together. The results were better, but the wobblies got the better of him and the images showed it. He then decided to use a laser cutter — with the laser disabled, of course — as an impromptu X-Y stage to raster his camera above the boards. In a slightly cringe-worthy move, he gingerly clamped the phone to the cutter gantry, started the panorama, and let the cutter move over the board. This results in a rock-solid pictures of his boards with a lot of detail – perfect for his documentation. As a bonus, the honeycomb laser cutter bed makes for an interesting background texture.
Obviously anything could be used to raster a camera and achieve similar results, but full points here for maximizing available resources and not over-complicating a simple job. Yet another reason you can use to justify that laser-cutter purchase.
The Panono is a rather cool take on the panoramic camera: it is a ball-shaped device fitted with 36 individual cameras. When you press the button and throw the camera in the air, it waits until the highest point and then takes pictures from all of the cameras. Sound familiar? We first coverd [Jonas’] work way back in 2011.
Photos are stitched together into a single panoramic image with an equivalent resolution of up to 106 megapixels. The final image is panoramic in both horizontal and vertical directions: you can scroll up, down, left, right or in and out of the image. Since images are all taken at the same time you don’t have continuity problems associated with moving a single camera sensor. There are a number of sample images on their site but keep reading for a look at some of the updated hardware since our last look at this fascinating camera.
[Photodesaster] put together a panoramic digital camera using a scanner and some miscellaneous parts. You may remember seeing something like this about six months ago and originally about five years back. The parts used here work together nicely. The sensor board from the scanner is mounted to a metal plate along with a 50mm lens. The plate is mounted to a hard drive platter that is turned via belts connected to the original scanner motor. This way, when you tell the computer to scan an image, the lens is rotated to capture the panorama. The use of an 18V tool battery is a nice portability hack for the scanner circuitry.
Judging from this 71MP image he has achieved some remarkable results.
This one is from way back in 2002, but we didn’t see it till today. This is a hand built panoramic camera. The film is laid out across the back of the case, and when taking a picture, the lens assembly rotates to expose the film. It is a very nice looking design. The brass body is quite reminiscent of the recent one posted here. On the site, you’ll find not only the build log, but a full explanation of all the math behind the design. It is a very interesting read, even if you have no plans on building your own.
As part of a “disruptive technologies” course at the United States Military Academy, [Roy D. Ragsdale] produced a working prototype of a Google Street View-like system called PhotoTrail. Like its corporate-backed inspiration, the system captures georeferenced 360-degree panoramas that can be viewed interactively in a web browser…but at a hardware cost of only around $300. [Ragsdale’s] prototype is based entirely on consumer-grade off-the-shelf components and open source software, all tied together by the yin and yang of DIY: foam core board and a few Python scripts.
This article from IEEE Spectrum magazine provides some background on the selection of parts and construction of the system, including a hardware shopping list and a list of links to all of the open source packages used.
The PhotoTrail prototype is surprisingly small and lightweight. A vehicle isn’t even required; the camera array can be carried overhead by a single person, making it possible to capture remote locations. But [Roy] expects future revisions to be even smaller and less obtrusive, perhaps mounted to a headband. Mount Everest awaits!
[Ewout] sent us some info on this Automated Gigapixel Panorama Acquisition system. The system automates the process of taking the large amounts of images required to do gigapixel panoramics. You tell it key information, like what lens, and what percent overlap you want and the system will calculate how many images it will take, as well as the gigapixel count. The results are quite stunning, no visible seams with fantastic detail. Interestingly, this was created for a class in embedded system design (ECE4180) at Georgia Institute of Technology and so was our post earlier today on Digitally Assisted Billiards. Is Hack a Day part of the class curriculum? It should be.