Robotic Ball-Bouncing Platform Learns New Tricks

[T-Kuhn]’s Octo-Bouncer platform has learned some new tricks since we saw it last. If you haven’t seen it before, this device uses computer vision from a camera mounted underneath its thick, clear acrylic platform to track a ball in 3D space, and make the necessary (and minute) adjustments needed to control the ball’s movements with a robotic platform in real time.

We loved the Octo-Bouncer’s mesmerizing action when we saw it last, and it’s only gotten better. Not only is there a whole new custom ball detection algorithm that [T-Kuhn] explains in detail, there are also now visualizations of both the ball’s position as well as the plate movements. There’s still one small mystery, however. Every now and again, [T-Kuhn] says that the ball will bounce in an unexpected direction. It doesn’t seem to be a bug related to the platform itself, but [T-Kuhn] has a suspicion. Since contact between the ball and platform is where all the control comes from, and the ball and platform touch only very little during a bounce, it’s possible that bits of dust (or perhaps even tiny imperfections on the ball’s surface itself) might be to blame. Regardless, it doesn’t detract from the device’s mesmerizing performance.

Design files and source code are available on the project’s GitHub repository for those who’d like a closer look. It’s pretty trippy watching the demonstration video because there is so much going on at once; you can check it out just below the page break.

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Perfecting A 3D Printed Camera Motion Control Rig

If you’ve ever watched one of those high production value YouTube videos and wondered how they’re able to get those smooth shots where the camera seems to be spinning around an object, you were probably looking at the product of an motorized camera motion system. There’s no question these rigs can produce visually striking shots, but their high cost usually keeps them out of the hands of us lowly hackers.

Unless of course you do like [Andy], and build your own. The latest version of this impressive rig features the ability to continuously rotate thanks to commercial 12-wire slip rings, with optical endstops so the machine can still be homed at the beginning of a move. An onboard Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno are responsible for controlling the stepper motors, the configuration of which ends up being reminiscent of a standard 3D printer.

The MQTT remote can hold a phone for live video.

The software [Andy] has come up with lets him synchronize the camera rig with a small rotating platform he built, which allows for even more complex shots as demonstrated in the video below. It also supports a very slick MQTT-enabled remote controller that he built as a previous project, which makes taking direct control over the camera and monitoring its status much easier.

Want to add a little polish to your own project videos? [Andy] has released all of the files and information you’d need to build your own version of his motion control rig, though we wouldn’t blame you for feeling a bit intimidated by this one. It might not be the most elaborate camera motion control system we’ve seen, but it’s certainly up there. If you just want an overhead video and don’t need those fancy tracking shots, perhaps a modified VESA arm would fit the bill.

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Open Source Motion Controller For DIY Drones

DJI recently introduced a slick motion controller that eschews the traditional dual-stick transmitter and allows you to fly their new “FPV Drone” with just one hand. The fact that it looks like it could double as the control stick for an X-Wing is just an added bonus. Unfortunately, that single model is the only thing the $199 USD controller is currently compatible with. Unwilling to get locked into the DJI ecosystem, [Paweł Spychalski] has developed an open source work-alike motion controller that brings gesture flying to home-built quadcopters and airplanes.

Now to be clear, you’ll still need a traditional transmitter to use this device. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, [Paweł] decided to implement his motion controller as an add-on for OpenTX hardware like the RadioMaster TX16S. It simply plugs into the trainer port on the back of the transmitter and acts as a secondary input. This greatly simplifies the design, as it essentially just needs to read angle data from its MPU-6050 gyro/accelerometer and forward it along to OpenTX over the serial port. Plus the fact that it’s connected to the trainer port means you can disable it and return to traditional controls in an instant if anything goes wrong.

Outside of the motion sensing gear, the ESP32-powered peripheral also has a thumb stick and a pair of push buttons nestled into its 3D printed frame. An OLED display provides some user feedback, and a holder for a 18650 cell is mounted to the back side as the controller will need its own power source when [Paweł] gets around to making its connection to the transmitter wireless.

In the video below, [Paweł] takes the motion controller for a test flight and comes away largely satisfied with the results. Some tweaks are in the works as you might expect for a first attempt, but nothing that would prevent you from building your own version today and experiencing what might be the next evolution of RC flying.

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A Camera Slider With A Twist

“Scope creep” is often derided as an obstacle between your idea and the delivery of a finished project. That may be, but sometimes the creep is the whole point. It’s how we end up with wonderful builds like this multi-axis differential camera slider.

We mention scope creep because that’s what [Jan Derogee] blames for this slider’s protracted development time, as well as its final form. The design is a bit unconventional in that it not only dollies the camera left and right but also works in pan and tilt axes, and it does this without putting any motors on the carriage. Instead, the motors, which are located near the end of the slider rails, transmit power to the carriage via loops of 217timing belt. It’s a little like the CoreXY mechanism; rotating the motors in the same direction and speed slides the carriage, while moving them in opposite directions pans the camera. A Sparkfun Pro Micro in the controller coordinates the motors for smooth multi-axis motion, and the three steppers — there’s a separate motor for the tilt axis — sound really cool all working at the same time. Check out the video below for the full story.

We’ve seen a few fun projects from [Jan] before. Check out his linear clock, the persistence of phosphorescence display, or his touchpad for retrocomputers.

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DIY Camera Motion Rig Is Mostly 3D Printed

These days, Youtube is more competitive than ever. Creators put out videos of wildly expensive, complex projects with equally pricy camera gear. [Do It Whenever?] wanted to join the arms race, building his own camera rig for smooth, swooping shots.

The rig consists of a series of 3D printed axes all joined together into a 6-axis motion rig. Additionally, actuators attached to the lens of the camera allow zoom and focus to be be controlled programmatically too. An Arduino runs the show, interpreting G-code and running the various axes, with a Raspberry Pi acting as a gateway to allow the rig to be commanded from PCs or smartphones.

Currently, control is largely manual, by entering G-code commands to move the rig in various ways. The rig can also have its motors temporarily disengaged by a button, allowing the camera to be aimed by hand, before holding the position. In this way, it acts as a highly versatile tripod. Future plans involve more automation if suitable open-source software can be found.

It’s an impressive rig, even if it hasn’t quite found the perfect software to fully exploit its capabilities yet. We’ve seen similar builds before, too. Video after the break.

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Up Your Game With DIY Headset Motion Tracking

While there’s been a lot of advancements in VR gaming over the last couple of years, plenty of folks are still happy enough to just stare at their monitor. But that’s not to say some of those fancy head-tracking tricks wouldn’t be a welcome addition to their repertoire. For players who are literally looking to get their head in the game, [Adrian Schwizgebel] has created qeMotion.

The idea here is simple enough: attach a motion sensor to a standard gaming headset (here a MPU-6050 IMU), and use the data from it to virtually “press” keys through USB HID emulation. Many first person shooter games offer the ability to lean left or right by pressing Q or E respectively, so all [Adrian] had to do was map the appropriate accelerometer readings to those keys for it to work seamlessly with popular titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and Insurgency.

The concept might be basic, but the execution is anything but. Rather than just duct taping an Arduino to his headset, [Adrian] designed a very slick 3D printed enclosure for the electronics that sits on his desk. While they haven’t all been implemented yet, the devices features indicator lights and buttons to switch through various modes. The sensor on the headset has similarly been encased in a very professional looking 3D printed box, complete with a nice braided cable to link it to the desk unit.

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a head tracking project, and most of those utilized something like the Wii Remote. Adding sensors to a person’s head normally wouldn’t be an ideal situation, but if you’re going to be wearing the headset anyway to listen to the game and chat, it’s not really a problem. If your hair is too nice for the qeMotion, you could always try doing something similar with computer vision.

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Speed Up Filming With This Jawdropping 8-Axis Camera Crane

These days, it can feel like a project doesn’t exist unless you’ve posted a video on the Internet about it. [mingul] was in the process of producing his own videos, but found having to repeatedly move and set up the camera tiring. Naturally, a completely overkill eight-axis motion control robot was the solution. Video embedded below the break.

The scale of the build is something to behold. With 4.5 m travel on the X-axis, 6.5 m on the Y, and 2.1 m on the Z, it’s capable of traversing the full length of [mingul]’s workshop. Tilt, pan, and roll axes all feature 540 degrees of rotation, and there’s motors to control zoom and focus on the camera, too. Through software like Dragonframe, it’s possible to program complicated camera moves, and techniques like the classic dolly zoom are a cinch with such a versatile rig. It’s also possible to control the movement in real-time with a wireless Xbox controller.

[mingul] reports the build took a full three months of CNC machining, 3D printing and assembly. It’s a big step above a simple motorized camera slider, but we all have to start somewhere.

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