Adding Remote Controls To A Blackmagic Studio Camera Without Breaking The Bank

What to do when one ends up in the possession of a 4K studio camera, but without the requisite hardware and software to remotely control it? When [Glen Akins] ended up in this situation, he took the reasonable option here and developed his own knob-based remote control to adjust exposure and focus on the Blackmagic Designs Micro Studio Camera 4K. Without a remote control option, the only adjustment options are via fiddly small buttons on the camera itself, which wouldn’t have been a fun experience during the webcam usage that this camera would be used for.

This camera is normally controlled via the control channel on the SDI input which also handles the video output from the camera. For larger installations the proprietary ATEM software is commonly used, and there’s a $99 Arduino expansion board as well that’s apparently rarely stocked. With SDI not an option, the second option was LANC, which runs into pretty much the same issue with proprietary protocols and very expensive hardware.

Behind door number three is the more curious control option of the Futaba S.BUS protocol. Originally created for remotely controlling radio-controlled aircraft and similar remotely controlled systems, the thought here appears to be that this studio camera can also be used with systems that already have an S.BUS receiver, such as large drones.

With this S.BUS protocol having been reverse-engineered for a while now, it was a fairly straightforward procedure from there to create an MCU-based board with a lot of encoder knobs on it that map to a specific adjustment on the camera. The result of [Glen]’s labor can be found on GitHub.

Main image: The finished knob-box with the Blackmagic Designs camera. (Credit: Glen Akins)