We are suckers for a teardown video here at Hackaday: few things are more fascinating than watching an expensive piece of equipment get torn apart. [Jonas Pfeil] is going the other way, though: he has just published an interesting video of one of his Panono panoramic ball cameras being built.
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.
Unsurprisingly, the device itself is pretty complex: I counted two rather crowded looking circuit boards and at least three smaller daughterboards that the cameras and USB port connect to, plus a whole rats nest of ribbon cables. This is the first commercial version (they are making and selling just a thousand of them, called the explorer edition), but it looks a little inefficient: I thought it might be possible to connect some of the cameras directly to the edge of the circuit board to lose a few of the cables. I asked [Jonas] about that, and he said:
The orientations of the camera modules are important and not two are the same. So at most we could mount three of 36 on the 3 mainboards in the center plane of the sphere. Orientation of the camera modules calls for their PCB to be tangential to the sphere surface. So basically you have to fold something. I’m sure there are other ways but this is the solution we came up with. We spent a good deal of time on that folding pattern and the shapes of the flexible boards :) Also for something made to hit the floor at this speed you have to decouple things mechanically or it will decouple itself on impact ;)
So, can anyone come up with a better idea for attaching the cameras to simplify this complex build?