Have you ever watched a movie or a video and really noticed the quality of the camera work? If you have, chances are the camera operator wasn’t very skilled, since the whole point of the job is to not be noticed. And getting to that point requires a lot of practice, especially since the handwheel controls for professional cameras can be a little tricky to master.
Getting the hang of camera controls is the idea behind [Cadrage]’s Kino Wheels open-source handwheels. The business end of Kino Wheels is a pair of DIN 950 140mm spoked handwheels — because of course there’s a DIN standard for handwheels. The handwheels are supported by sturdy pillow block bearings and attached to 600 pulse/rev rotary encoders, which are read by an Arduino Mega 2560. The handwheels are mounted orthogonal to each other in a suitable enclosure; the Pelican-style case shown in the build instructions seems like a perfect choice, but it really could be just about anything.
To use Kino Wheels, [Cadrage] offers a free camera simulator for Windows. Connected over USB, the wheels control the pan and tilt axes of a simulated camera in an animated scene. The operator-in-training uses the wheels to keep the scene composed properly while following the action. A little bit of the simulation is shown in the brief video below, along with some of the build details.
While getting camera practice is the point of the project, that’s not to say Kino Wheels couldn’t be retasked. With a little work, these could be used to actually control at least a couple of axes of a motion control rig, or maybe even to play Quake.
One of the great things about the Internet is it lets people find out what other people are doing even if they normally wouldn’t have much exposure to each other. For example, in some businesses DIN rails are a part of everyday life. But for a long time, they were not very common in hobby electronics. Although rails are cheap, boxes for rails aren’t always easy or cheap to obtain, but 3D printing offers a solution for that.
So while the industrial world has been using these handy rails for decades, we are starting to see hobby projects incorporate them more often and people like [Makers Mashup] are discovering them and finding ways to use them in projects and demonstrating them in this video, also embedded below.
If you haven’t encountered them yet, DIN rails are a strip of metal, bent into a particular shape with the purpose of mounting equipment like circuit breakers. A typical rail is 35 mm wide and has a hat-like cross-section which leads to the name “top hat” rail. A 25 mm channel lets you hide wiring and the surface has holes to allow you to mount the rail to a wall or a cabinet. These are sometimes called type O or type Ω rails or sections.
There are other profiles, too. A C-rail is shaped like a letter C and you can guess what a G section looks like, too. Rails do come in different heights, as well, but the 35 mm is overwhelmingly common. However, there are 15 mm rails and 75 mm rails, too.
In our technologically complex world, standards are a double-edged sword. While they clearly make it possible for widgets and doodads to interoperate with each other, they also tend to drift away from their original intention over time, thanks to the march of progress or even market forces. If there’s one thing you can expect about standards, it’s that they beget other standards.
One standard that has stood the test of time, with modification of course, is the Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI. It’s hard to overstate the impact MIDI has had on the music world since it was first dreamed up in the early 1980s. Started amid a Wild West of competing proprietary synchronization standards, MIDI quickly became the de facto interface for connecting electronic musical instruments together. And as it did, it moved from strictly pro-grade equipment down the market to prosumer and home users, fueled in part by the PC revolution.
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More importantly, the connector [Charles] produced looks fantastic. If we weren’t told otherwise, we’d have assumed the finished product was commercially produced. Although to be fair, he did have a little help there. The housing and pins themselves were pulled from a sacrificial connector; his primary contribution was the insulating block that holds the pins in their proper position.
So how did he make it? He had considered using a piece of scrap material and just putting the holes in it with a drill press, but he was worried getting the aliment right. Instead, he decided to call his cheap CNC router into service. By routing his design out of copper clad PCB, he was even able to tie the appropriate pins together right in the connector.
Unless you’ve spent some time in the industrial electrical field, you might be surprised at the degree of integration involved in the various control panels needed to run factories and the like. Look inside any cabinet almost anywhere in the world, and you’ll be greeted by rows of neat plastic terminal blocks, circuit breakers, signal conditioners, and all manner of computing hardware from programmable logic controllers right on to Raspberry Pis and Arduinos.
A well-crafted industrial control panel can truly be a thing of beauty. But behind all the electrical bits in the cabinet, underneath all the neatly routed and clearly labeled wires, there’s a humble strip of metal that stitches it all together: the DIN rail. How did it come to be, and why is it so ubiquitous?
It’s not much of a stretch to say that without nuts and bolts, the world would fall apart. Bolted connections are everywhere, from the frame of your DIY 3D printer to the lug nuts holding the wheels on your car. Though the penalty for failure is certainly higher in the latter than in the former, self-loosening of nuts and bolts is rarely a good thing. Engineers have come up with dozens of ways to make sure the world doesn’t fall apart, and some work better than others. Let’s explore a few of these methods and find out what works, what doesn’t work, and in the process maybe we’ll learn a little about how these fascinating fasteners work.
The display uses two synchronized peristaltic pumps to push water and red paraffin through a tube that switches back over itself in a predictable fashion. As visible in the video after the break, the pumps go at it for a few minutes producing a seemingly random pattern. The pattern coalesces at the end into a short string of text. The text is unfortunately fairly hard to read, even on a contrasting background. Perhaps an application of UV dye could help?
Once the message has been displayed, the water and paraffin drop back into the holding tank as the next message is queued up. The oil and water separate just like expected and a pump at the level of each fluid feeds it back into the system.
We were deeply puzzled at what appeared to be an Arduino mounted on a DIN rail for use in industrial settings, but then discovered that this product is what [hwhardsoft] built the demo to sell. We can see some pretty cool variations on this technique for art displays.