Voice Controlled Camera For Journalist In Need

Before going into the journalism program at Centennial College in Toronto, [Carolyn Pioro] was a trapeze performer. Unfortunately a mishap in 2005 ended her career as an aerialist when she severed her spinal cord,  leaving her paralyzed from the shoulders down. There’s plenty of options in the realm of speech-to-text technology which enables her to write on the computer, but when she tried to find a commercial offering which would let her point and shoot a DSLR camera with her voice, she came up empty.

[Taras Slawnych] heard about [Carolyn’s] need for special camera equipment and figured he had the experience to do something about it. With an Arduino and a couple of servos to drive the pan-tilt mechanism, he came up with a small device which Carolyn can now use to control a Canon camera mounted to an arm on her wheelchair. There’s still some room for improvement (notably, the focus can’t be controlled via voice currently), but even in this early form the gadget has caught the attention of Canon’s Canadian division.

With a lavalier microphone on the operator’s shirt, simple voice commands like “right” and “left” are picked up and interpreted by the Arduino inside the device’s 3D printed case. The Arduino then moves the appropriate servo motor a set number of degrees. This doesn’t allow for particularly fine-tuned positioning, but when combined with movements of the wheelchair itself, gives the user an acceptable level of control. [Taras] says the whole setup is powered off of the electric wheelchair’s 24 VDC batteries, with a step-down converter to get it to a safe voltage for the Arduino and servos.

As we’ve seen over the years, assistive technology is one of those areas where hackers seem to have a knack for making serious contribution’s to the lives of others (and occasionally even themselves). The highly personalized nature of many physical disabilities, with specific issues and needs often unique to the individual, can make it difficult to develop devices like this commercially. But as long as hackers are willing to donate their time and knowledge to creating bespoke assistive hardware, there’s still hope.

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Guardin, Guarding The Garden: Turn Raspberry Pi Into A 3rd Eye

If you are a gardener, you’ll know only too well the distress of seeing your hard work turned into a free lunch for passing herbivorous wildlife. It’s something that has evidently vexed [Jim], because he’s come up with an automated Raspberry Pi-controlled turret to seek out invading deer, and in his words: “Persuade them to munch elsewhere”.

Before you groan and sigh that here’s yet another pan and tilt camera, let us reassure you that this one is a little bit special. For a start, it rotates upon a set of slip rings rather than an untidy mess of twisted cables, so it can perfom 360 degree rotations at will, then it has a rather well-designed tilting cage for its payload. The write-up is rather functional but worth persevering with, and he’s posted a YouTube video that we’ve placed below the break.

This is a project that still has some way to go, for example just how those pesky deer are to be sent packing isn’t made entirely clear, but we think it already shows enough potential to be worthy of a second look. The slip ring mechanism in particular could find a home in many other projects.

It’s worth reminding readers that while pan and tilt mechanisms can be as impressive as this one, sometimes they are a little more basic.

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Pan And Tilt With Dual Controllers

It wasn’t long ago that faced with a controller project, you might shop for something with just the right features and try to minimize the cost. These days, if you are just doing a one-off, it might be just as easy to throw commodity hardware at it. After all, a Raspberry Pi costs less than a nice meal and it is more powerful than a full PC would have been not long ago.

When [Joe Coburn] wanted to make a pan and tilt webcam he didn’t try to find a minimal configuration. He just threw a Raspberry Pi in for interfacing to the Internet and an Arduino in to control two RC servo motors. A zip tie holds the servos together and potentially the web cam, too.

You can see the result in the video below. It is a simple matter to set up the camera with the Pi, send some commands to the Arduino and hook up to the Internet.

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Homebrew Weather Station Plus A Pan And Tilt Camera Rig

[Sebastian] wrote in to share his web site, where he has a bunch of different electronics projects. After looking through them, we found a pair that we thought you might find interesting.

The first project is a homebrew weather monitoring station that [Sebastian] put together. He designed a weather shield, incorporating humidity, pressure and light sensors, along with digital I/O ports for monitoring an anemometer. The entire setup is powered using solar panels, and data is relayed to his computer via an Xbee.

The second item that caught our eye was a digital camera pan and tilt rig. The system was built using a Lynxmotion pan and tilt kit, which is controlled by an Arduino. The code he provides allows him to capture very large composite images without having to spend too much time “sewing” them together. While this second project mostly consists of schematics for a base plate and pan/tilt code, it struck us as something that could be very useful for any budding photographers looking to take panoramic shots.

All of the schematics and code for his projects are available on his site, so be sure to look around – you might find something interesting!