Orphaned Gimbal Gets Second Chance To Fly

A reality of flying RC aircraft is that at some point, one of your birds is going to fall in the line of duty. It could get lost in the clouds never to be seen again, or perhaps it will become suddenly reacquainted with terra firma. Whatever the reason, your overall enjoyment of the hobby depends greatly on how well you can adapt to the occasional loss.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, we’d say [Rural Flyer] has the right temperament for the job. After losing one of his quadcopters in an unfortunate FPV incident, he decided to repurpose the proprietary gimbal it left behind. If he still had the drone he could have slipped a logic analyzer in between its connection with the motorized camera to sniff out the communication protocol, but since that was no longer an option, he had to get a little creative.

Figuring out the power side of things was easy enough thanks to the silkscreen on the camera’s board, and a common 5 V battery eliminator circuit (BEC) connected to the drone’s 7.4 V battery pack got it online. A cobbled together adapter allowed him to mount it to one of his other quads, but unfortunately the angle wasn’t quite right.

[Rural Flyer] wanted the camera tilted down about 15 degrees, but since he didn’t know how to talk to it, he employed a clever brute force solution. After identifying the accelerometer board responsible for determining the camera’s position, he use a glob of hot glue to push the sensor off of the horizontal. Providing this physical offset to the sensor data caused the camera to automatically move itself to exactly where he wanted it.

Continue reading “Orphaned Gimbal Gets Second Chance To Fly”

Bluetooth Photo Booth Gets Vetting At Wedding

With just two weeks to go before his friends’ wedding, [gistnoesis] built a well-featured robotic photo booth. Using a Bluetooth PS3 controller, guests could move the camera around, take a picture, style it in one of several ways (or not), and print it out with a single button press.

The camera is mounted on a DIY 2-axis gimbal made from extruded aluminium and 3D-printed parts. It can be moved left/right with one joystick, and up/down with the other. [gistnoesis] set up a four-panel split-screen display that shows the live feed from the camera and a diagram for the controls. The third panel shows the styled picture. Guests could explore the camera roll on the fourth panel.

LINN uses two PCs running Lubuntu, one of which is dedicated to running an open-source neural style transfer program. After someone takes a picture, they can change the style to make it look like a Van Gogh or Picasso before printing it out. A handful of wedding attendees knew about some of the extra features, like manual exposure control and the five-second timer option, and the information spread gradually. Not only was LINN a great conversation piece, it inspired multi-generational collaboration.

Despite the assembled size, LINN packs up nicely into a couple of reusable shopping bags for transport (minus the TV, of course).  This vintage photo booth we saw a few years ago is more of a one-piece solution, although it isn’t as feature-rich.

Continue reading “Bluetooth Photo Booth Gets Vetting At Wedding”

Neural Network Gimbal Is Always Watching

[Gabriel] picked up a GoPro to document his adventures on the slopes and trails of Montreal, but quickly found he was better in front of the camera than behind it. Turns out he’s even better seated behind his workbench, as the completely custom auto-tracking gimbal he came up with is nothing short of a work of art.

There’s quite a bit going on here, and as you might expect, it took several iterations before [Gabriel] got all the parts working together. The rather GLaDOS-looking body of the gimbal is entirely 3D printed, and holds the motors, camera, and a collection of ultrasonic receivers. The Nvidia Jetson TX1 that does the computational heavy lifting is riding shotgun in its own swanky looking 3D printed enclosure, but [Gabriel] notes a future revision of the hardware should be able to reunite them.

In the current version of the system, the target wears an ultrasonic emitter that is picked up by the sensors in the gimbal. The rough position information provided by the ultrasonics is then refined by the neural network running on the Jetson TX1 so that the camera is always focused on the moving object. Right now the Jetson TX1 gets the video feed from the camera over WiFi, and commands the gimbal hardware over Bluetooth. Once the Jetson is inside the gimbal however, some of the hardware can likely be directly connected, and [Gabriel] says the ultrasonics may be deleted from the design completely in favor of tracking purely in software. He plans on open sourcing the project, but says he’s got some internal house keeping to do before he takes the wraps off it.

From bare bones to cushy luxury, scratch-built camera gimbals have become something of a right of passage for the photography hacker. But with this project, it looks like the bar got set just a bit higher.

Continue reading “Neural Network Gimbal Is Always Watching”

Homemade Camera Stabilizer

We’ve featured quite a few camera gimbals and steady cams here, but this one stands out. For one, [Daniel Rhyoo] was in his sophomore year when he built it. His 2-axis camera gimbal uses brushless DC motors, and is made out of carbon fiber.

[Daniel] machined the carbon fiber parts on a CNC desktop mill and some hand tools. And he also had to teach himself Solid Works to design it. In his slick DIY guide, he starts off by listing the parts and where to source them from, along with the tools needed. Most gimbals use servos for axis movements, which limits the range and do not provide very smooth motion. Brushless motors overcome these limitations allowing a nice, smooth moving gimbal to be built with a wide range of movement. When [Aleksey Moskalenko] introduced the AlexMos brushless motor controller, [Daniel] ordered it out, and then waited until he could get his hands on the right kind of motors. CAD files for all of the machined parts are available for download (.zip file).

He then goes on to blog his build progress, with ample photos to describe the machining and assembly. He does a couple of nice design choices along the way – like using press-nuts to make assembly and dis-assembly easy, and dismantling one of the motors and replacing its shaft with a custom, longer one instead of using a coupler to extend it. At the end, the result is not only a nice looking, light weight rig, but one that works very well thanks to the motors and controller that he used. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Continue reading “Homemade Camera Stabilizer”

Resourceful DIY Brushless Hand-held Camera Gimbal

Holding a video camera while shooting video can lead to finished footage that has some serious shakes. Lucky for us there are some solutions to this problem such as a passive steady cam stabilizer or an active motor-driven gimbal. [Oscar] wanted a smooth-operating brushless motor gimbal but didn’t want to spend the big bucks it costs for a consumer setup so he went out and built his own.

[Oscar] didn’t have a CNC machine or 3D printer to help with his build. He made his gimbal with simple hand tools out of plywood and hardware store bracketry. In his build post, he talks about how it is important to keep the pivoting axes of the gimbal in line with the camera lens and what he did to achieve that goal. The alignment of the axes and the lens ensures that the video is stable while the gimbal adjusts to keep the camera’s angle constant.

[Oscar] purchased the brushless motors and motor controller which included a gyro sensor on a separate PCB board. The gyro is mounted to the camera mount and sends tilt information back to the controller that then moves the brushless motors to keep the camera level. The final project worked out pretty good although [Oscar] admits he still would like to tune the PID settings in the controller a little better. Check out the video after the break where the stabilized camera is compared to one that is not.

Continue reading “Resourceful DIY Brushless Hand-held Camera Gimbal”

Keep Tabs On Passing Jets With Pi And SDR

Obviously Software Defined Radio is pretty cool. For a lot of hackers you just need the right project to get you into it. Submitted for your approval is just that project. [Simon Aubury] has been using a Raspberry Pi and SDR to record video of planes passing overhead. The components are cheap and most places have planes passing by; this just might be the perfect project.

We’re not just talking static frames with planes passing through them, oh no. Simon used two hobby servos and some brackets to gimbal his Pi camera board. A DVB dongle allows the rig to listen in on the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) coming from the planes. This system is mandated for most commercial aircraft (deadlines for implementation vary). ADS-B consists of positioning data being broadcast from planes using known frequencies and protocols. Once [Simon] locks onto this data he can accomplish a lot, like keeping the plane in the center of the video, establishing which flight is being recorded, and automatically uploading the footage. With such a marvelously executed build we’re certain we will see more people giving it a try.

[Simon] did a great job with the writeup too. Not only did he include a tl;dr, but drilled down through a project summary and right to the gritty details. Well done documentation is itself worth celebrating!

Continue reading “Keep Tabs On Passing Jets With Pi And SDR”

DIY Camera Stabilizer Takes The Shakes Out Of Filming

We’ve all prematurely stopped watching some Youtube video because of shaky camera work that makes the video unwatchable. There is a solution available for this problem, it’s a device called a camera stabilizer and it is designed to compensate for jerky camera movement. There are several types available for purchase but they can get fairly expensive. Even the cheaper ones at a few hundred dollars are not economical for hobbyists. [John] set out to make his own camera stabilizer using some unorthodox parts.

[John’s] chose a gimble style design that effectively lowers the camera’s center of gravity down close to the camera persons hand. The handle of the device must also be mounted in a manor to prevent angular and rotation movement of the supporting hand from transferring to the camera.

The handle is from a cement trowel, on top of which is a ball bearing mounted to a threaded rod. A PVC fitting was heated to soften it and the bushing pressed in. This bearing is responsible for allowing the rotational freedom between the handle and the camera. To decouple any angular movements, two hinges were attached to the PVC fitting. The hinges are perpendicular to each other, one allows forward-back tilting while the other allows left-right tilting. The upper hinge is attached to a piece of poplar wood that also serves as a base for the camera.

At this point, if you were to try to hold this contraption with the camera installed, it would immediately tip over due to gravity. To prevent this, the center of gravity of the moving parts (including the camera) must be lowered. [John] did this by using some aluminum tubing to support wood weights that reside lower than the pivot points created by the hinges.

If you like the DIYer-style stabilizers, check this other wooded one out. Want something more polished looking? How about this pistol grip stabilizer?