Motorized head Panogear or Gigapan?  

In the panorama field, hardware is also part of the success. You can discuss here about it: camera, computer, pano head, anything
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Andre
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Motorized head Panogear or Gigapan?

by Andre » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:09 pm

Motorized head Panogear or Gigapan?
User rather satisfied with Autopano Giga, I intend to equipping me soon with a motorized head.
At the time to make a choice, I am in a dilemma!
Panogear or head Gigapan Pro?
Which to choose?
What is, apart from the argument of the price (Gigapan Pro €999), the advantage (or disadvantage) of one another?
It may seem incongruous to request such an opinion here, since Kolor is the first vendor I hope an impartial opinion on this forum.

Who can convince me to acquire one over the other?

Thank you to share your experiences.
I would'nt make an error for an investment, however, relatively expensive...
André
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by gkaefer » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:20 pm

first: I've no clue about the gigapan head. saw it on the net, read some negative issues concerning nadir/footprint, spherical panos etc. but finally experience I've only with the merlin (identical to the panogear)

to make relevant tips its needed to learn more about your way to take panos, which panos you wanna do with the head, which equipment you use (cam/lens, promote control, timelapts, HDR, bracketing, stacking, indoor/outdoor panos....
... unfortunately theres not only one best choice ;-))

Liebe Gruesse,
Georg

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by leifs » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:53 pm

Andre wrote:Motorized head Panogear or Gigapan?
Panogear or head Gigapan Pro?
Which to choose?

I have used both of them and they are both ok for partial panos, e.g. gigapanos.
But they are not suited for spheres because of too short vertical distance between camera and "body".
Gigapan is maybe the worst for spheres, because it has a fixed number of images around y-axis.
That means a lot of overlap and a lot of trouble close to the zenith/nadir.

leifs
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by gkaefer » Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:37 am

leifs wrote:
Andre wrote:Motorized head Panogear or Gigapan?
Panogear or head Gigapan Pro?
Which to choose?

I have used both of them and they are both ok for partial panos, e.g. gigapanos.
But they are not suited for spheres because of too short vertical distance between camera and "body".
Gigapan is maybe the worst for spheres, because it has a fixed number of images around y-axis.
That means a lot of overlap and a lot of trouble close to the zenith/nadir.

leifs

yes the merlin can handle perfect spheres with 8-15mm, especially in combination with the handcontroller which is part (or option?) of the panogear package. The T&C handcontroller gives you automatically calculated set of images used for spheres & mosaics, especially for higher focals usful, because in nadir and zenith the number of images per row is automatically reduced for optimal overlap. so I had no problem to do spheres with merlin and the handcontroller with 85mm samyang lens on a APS-C sensor camera, and even a >1000 images pano of a potted chrysamteme plant (85mm + distance rings, HDR bracketed, focus stacked also using the promote systems device).
if you wanna do 150,200,300-500mm focals fullspheres I would suggest also more prof heads like Seitz roundshot VR drive or upcoming Josefs new head (Josef is from T&C the handcontroller is also made from)

Georg
Last edited by gkaefer on Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by Andre » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:42 am

gkaefer wrote:
leifs wrote:
Andre wrote:Motorized head Panogear or Gigapan?
Panogear or head Gigapan Pro?
Which to choose?

I have used both of them and they are both ok for partial panos, e.g. gigapanos.
But they are not suited for spheres because of too short vertical distance between camera and "body".
Gigapan is maybe the worst for spheres, because it has a fixed number of images around y-axis.
That means a lot of overlap and a lot of trouble close to the zenith/nadir.

leifs

yes the merlin can handle perfect spheres with 8-15mm, especially in combination with the handcontroller which is part (or option?) of the panogear package. The T&C handcontroller gives you automatically calculated set of images used for spheres & mosaics, especially for higher focals usful, because in nadir and zenith the number of images per row is automatically reduced for optimal overlap. so I had no problem to do spheres with merlin and the handcontroller with 85mm samyang lens on a APS-C sensor camera, and even a >1000 images pano of a potted chrysamteme plant (85mm + distance rings, HDR bracketed, focus stacked also using the promote systems device).
if you wanna do 150,200,300-500mm focals fullspheres I would suggest also more prof heads like Seitz roundshot VR drive or upcoming Josefs new head (Josef is from T&C the handcontroller is also made from)

Georg

The characteristics of the panoramic head Seitz seem very interesting but this material is highly professional and non-budget for an amateur photographer, unfortunately.
You also mention a panoramic head "Josef".
I have found no information on the Net about it!
Do you have a URL for "Josef"?
André
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by Briger » Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:27 am

@Andre Its not much cheaper than a Seitz. In the Forum are only 4-5 Pics of this Head at the moment. A lot of talk about it but not more.

Pat
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by gkaefer » Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:15 am

Klaus, can you post some links here to Josefs head, you made the test until now ;-))
it should be released in near future....

Georg

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by klausesser » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:45 pm

Briger wrote:@Andre Its not much cheaper than a Seitz. In the Forum are only 4-5 Pics of this Head at the moment. A lot of talk about it but not more.

Pat

Depends on what you understand with "not much" - it´s about 50% . . .

The final price for the complete unit is 1990.-€ +vat.

(latest pictures and movies upcomig week)

best, Klaus
Last edited by klausesser on Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by klausesser » Sat Feb 11, 2012 7:59 pm

klausesser wrote:
Briger wrote:@Andre Its not much cheaper than a Seitz. In the Forum are only 4-5 Pics of this Head at the moment. A lot of talk about it but not more.

Pat

Depends on what you understand with "not much" - it´s about 50% . . .

The final price for the complete unit is 1990.-€ +vat.

(latest pictures and movies upcomig week)

best, Klaus

P. S.: Final tunings will be finished by this weekend.
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by klausesser » Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:25 pm

gkaefer wrote:Klaus, can you post some links here to Josefs head, you made the test until now ;-))
it should be released in near future....

Georg

http://www.kolor.com/forum/t12057-tadaaa-here-it-is-prototype
http://www.kolor.com/forum/t13727-first-pictures-of-josefa-s-head-in-production-state

Results:

http://www.360impressions.de/HiRez
http://gigapan.org/gigapans/97639

best, Klaus

P.S.: you see - Josef´s a very skilled engineer. He wants to do it 100%. And i´m a critical photographer.
From my own work i know that it´s disgusting when things aren´t as perfect as i need them to be.

From my beginning of commercial panoramics i realised that errors can be made - but better to avoid them when you get paid for your work . .
So i looked for the right tools. Then i met Josef - and he first designed the T&C handheld controller for Merlin.
Then i convinced him on the Photokina to have a look at some pano-heads and special devices like Lizard Q or Spheron . .

ok - after all we sat together and designed a head which is very, very precise, very sturdy, takes heavy loads and nevertheless is remarkably fast.

And doesn´t cost a fortune.

Commercial photographers who are specialised in pano don´t have problems to pay around 4000.-€ for a good head.
I´m not doing panos exclusively and there´s lots of things you need for working as a professional photographer. So, when
i can save around 2000.-€ . . . i do it - IF the device i get is worth it.

It definitely is. :cool:
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by Briger » Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:32 pm

Depends on what you understand with "not much" - it´s about 50% . . .

The final price for the complete unit is 1990.-€ +vat.

(latest pictures and movies upcomig week)

best, Klaus

50% ? VR Drive full Price EUR 2,710 thats not 50% :-) its the Price with TC Controler?

You Speak a lot of the "Magic" Head but at the moment i have see a strange Head Design for 2k EUR. I like the TC Controller and hope Josef's head are great but at the moment whit this Infos and Photos i prefer the VRDrive.
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by klausesser » Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:01 pm

Briger wrote:. . but at the moment whit this Infos and Photos i prefer the VRDrive.

I understand that. It´s really a great device! I saw it at the last Photokina.

best, Klaus
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by gkaefer » Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:47 pm

I never saw both of the heads in real life... so no idea if following line is nonsense or not...

looking at the VR drive images I have one fear: that in the angle area of the L head this looks not very steardy, it looks like you you could easyly move the I of the L.
I dont wanna buy a head to win on beauty contests...

Georg

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by leifs » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:30 pm

gkaefer wrote:I have one fear: that in the angle area of the L head this looks not very steardy, it looks like you you could easyly move the I of the L.

Georg

This is not one of my worries. Not at all.

leifs


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by a a gruntpuddock » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:59 pm

For less much less than the what these cost you can build your own, and then you can specify what the dimensions should be and exactly how the program should work.

I had no experience or facilities for either welding or casting so built a prototype out of 25mm x 25mm pine, screws and steel brackets from my local Homebase (hardware store).

This required only a handsaw, electric drill and a jig to make sure the cuts were at 90 degrees.

I was totally confused by the Arduino, Picaxe, etc options and how to drive stepper motors so I opted for a s/h LEGO NXT kit from ebay which cost me £120.

This had everything in one box including the programming language and would be easily re-sold when I moved on to an Arduino or whatever.

The intention was to try out the format and get an understanding of what was involved before finalising the design, having it cast in aluminium and getting a microprocessor.

Several years later I have moved on - still using the LEGO but the last two versions were routed from 25 mm mdf for about £10 each instead of using wood.

I would have preferred plywood but the suppliers did not have that thickness.

I was surprised by just how stiff the wooden frames were and the power of the LEGO motors. I had a Fuji S9500 set about 35mm in front of the tilting pivot and the motor (plus gears) lifted it with no problem.

I eventually abandoned the LEGO NXT-G software for NXC (easier to modify) and continued to develop the program so it can now handle bracketing and mirror lockup on my 400D (before the Gigapan could).

Apart from the all-LEGO versions (wasted weeks trying that but they were all far too shoogly) you will find a few custom-built models powered by LEGO if you just google 'LEGO NXT PAno'.
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by klausesser » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:58 pm

a a gruntpuddock wrote:For less much less than the what these cost you can build your own, and then you can specify what the dimensions should be and exactly how the program should work.

Looking into it deeper:
how many time you spent with it all together? What would your time had cost if you´d had to pay for it?
How precise is your setup? What torque has it?
For good stitches using a tele-lens you need high precision - usually about 0,05°
For high stability in the vertical movements using tele-lenses you need a torque of between 1 and 4 Newton-meter.

During the developement of Josef´s head we realized that such a device MUST have it´s price. It´s definitely not possible
to keep it lower than 2000.-€ when you´re going to produce and sell it.
Calculating as a company with some staff you can´t sell it for less than 3-4000.-€ dependig on how elaborated it is.

I doubt you can build it cheaper with the same quality by doing it yourselves regarding the time it takes and the materials needed.

best, Klaus
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by a a gruntpuddock » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:18 pm

If I had to factor in my time spent trying things and developing the program it would be very expensive! I wasted several weeks just trying to get a LEGO-only design before giving up.

However, it was a hobby which I have enjoyed and has given me great satisfaction, and I have learned a great deal.

It probably cost me about £600 over several years but most of that (3 x NXT sets, surplus LEGO, survey tripod, drill stand, laser level, drills, etc) were second-hand and could be resold without much loss. One LEGO set cost me £85 and I would probably make a profit on that! The parts I have thrown or given away were probably < £50. OK, the 2 extra NXT sets were excessive but I am a Scotsman and they were cheap.

Since there are thousands (if not millions) of excellent hand-held panos shot with long lenses I doubt if you need the accuracy which you quote for non-commercial use.

All you need is that the rig is reasonably steady when the shot is taken, although I accept that this can be difficult in poor light. Nevertheless, most of my panos were shot without using a tripod so I think even a simple rig should work.

One of the reasons I developed a motorised pano head was because age and ill-health meant I was unable to stand long enough to take a large number of shots, even using a tripod. The models I built all worked quite well (to my surprise!) although each had limitations or aesthetic problems.

To built one of my final designs would cost approximately -
Basic mdf frame £ 15 (I bought 2 for £20)
Nuts and bolts £ 15
LEGO £ 150 (assuming a kit for £120)
Shutter module £ 30 (half that if you use relays)
Focus rail £ 10
Paint £ 10
Laser level £ 30
Tripod £ 40
Bit'sn bobs £ 10
Computer program £ 0 (NXC is free)

Around £300+ and most of that can be re-sold for around the same price.

This might need some adjustment or repairs during use but, for anyone doing this as a hobby, rather than a profession, it is sufficient. And if there are problems with your Gigapan can you fix them yourself?

I have developed a program in NXC which is not perfect (I am by no means an expert programmer) but which is free.

Anyone can improve and modify it to suit their own preferences. For instance, I am currently investigating the addition of a Bluetooth GPS receiver and a 4-line LCD screen.

I accept what you say about it not being economic to develop and sell such devices, but they are well within the reach of anyone who can use basic hand tools and is not afraid of some improvisation.

I have not had a chance to try out my latest (and final) rig yet but you can see the genesis here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/73571158@N00/sets/72157623635436569/
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by leifs » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:49 pm

I am really impressed !!
But I will keep my VR Drive 2, which seems to be a better choice for mountaineering and all-weather panos :)

leifs
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by Destiny » Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:54 pm

Hi.... At our school we use Lego for Robotics... I have my own set with the NXT control brick... Its great.. you can program using graphic links.. My students love it... There are so many YouTube video's showing those who have built a Lego Pano head.. I think it just great but not practical for a pro job... I think the client would laugh... But.. my thinking is... at the moments you only really have one choice of a controller and that's the Josef's one... I would be very curious to see you the Lego NXT brick could be used on the Panogear head.... The NXT is a lot cheaper and you can buy it from just about any toy shop..

Re the VR Drive L bracket above.. Not a problem.. very very strong.... The VR Drive II is very sturdy and with no sharp edges...;) :rolleyes:

Destiny...
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by a a gruntpuddock » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:38 pm

I don't know about using the NXT with a commercial head, but stepper motors can definitely be added onto a NXT via an interface on the sensor ports so it should be possible.

Definitely warranty-cancelling stuff though, only to be attempted if you have a broken one to play with!

I have considered trying steppers on my rig several times but my program is dependant on measuring rotations during the setup process and I just could not see how to do that with steppers. Not saying it is impossible, just don't know how to do it. My ignorance on programming is exceeded only by my total lack of knowlege about modern electronics!

Also, using steppers would require an additional interface and power supply at extra cost. All adds to the weight and bulk. I was forced into using LEGO by my lack of experience but it turned out to be a very good choice and I have difficulty finding a more convenient alternative.

The LEGO motors might not be the most elegant but, apart from having a lot of internal gearing, they have integral sensors accurate to about 1 degree. That means I can measure the horizontal and vertical FOVs for the camera/ lens/ zoom combination I am using to a reasonable degree of accuracy. This makes the program (to a large extent) camera, lens and orientation independant. I also use the rotation sensors to determine the size of the panorama for limited panos and the height for 360 degree shoots.


Re the torque required, as I stated elsewhere the motors plus some gearing can lift a Fuji S9500 mounted in front of the pivot so there is enough power there. I am using Ni-MH batteries which only give about 7.5V compared to conventional batteries (>9v) and only use 75% power. So I can easily add more oomph if required.

Initially I was concerned about power and battery life so set it up to start at the top row then move down to the next row. That way the motor was always dropping, rather than lifting the camera.

Nowadays I use a worm drive gear and go down the first column, up the next, down again and so on. The use of this drive arrangement means that the tilt motor is not required to hold the camera in position and is switched off when the rig is stationary.
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by klausesser » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:26 am

a a gruntpuddock wrote:The LEGO motors might not be the most elegant but, apart from having a lot of internal gearing, they have integral sensors accurate to about 1 degree. That means I can measure the horizontal and vertical FOVs for the camera/ lens/ zoom combination I am using to a reasonable degree of accuracy.

For using 300, 600mm and more you definitely need high accuracy.

a a gruntpuddock wrote:This makes the program (to a large extent) camera, lens and orientation independant. I also use the rotation sensors to determine the size of the panorama for limited panos and the height for 360 degree shoots.

If accuracy is "reasonable for the combination i (you) use" means it´s not camera and lens independant . . ;)

a a gruntpuddock wrote:Re the torque required, as I stated elsewhere the motors plus some gearing can lift a Fuji S9500 mounted in front of the pivot so there is enough power there. I am using Ni-MH batteries which only give about 7.5V compared to conventional batteries (>9v) and only use 75% power. So I can easily add more oomph if required.

Imagine a Fuji S5 with a 300mm lens attached. That means the camera mounted on a long rail - making a long lever. You´d need much torque - at least 2Nm, better more.
You cant´t gain that electrically - it´s the gear.

a a gruntpuddock wrote:Nowadays I use a worm drive gear and go down the first column, up the next, down again and so on. The use of this drive arrangement means that the tilt motor is not required to hold the camera in position and is switched off when the rig is stationary.

The worm drive gear really is a good idea!

best and good luck for your project, Klaus
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by a a gruntpuddock » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:52 am

Ah, but you are forgetting about the external gearing; the 1 degree is measured at the axle of the motor.

I wrote down some notes a while ago before senescence dimmed my memory -

Horizontal axis (tilt)

Uses one worm gear driven directly from the motor.
It interacts with a 56 tooth Lego turntable fitted to the tilting frame so the gear ratio is 56:1.
For one compete revolution of the gear there are 56*360=29,160o of motor rotation (each equivalent to 1 step in the motor).
Each degree the motor turns is the equivalent of 1/56o of camera movement.

Vertical axis (pan)

Uses one worm gear driven directly from the motor.
This interacts with a 16-tooth idler gear which drives a chain fixed around the circumference of the tribrach lower section.
Each revolution of the worm drives the chain by one tooth (3 mm).
Diameter of the chain is approximately 103 mm so it's circumference is 103*pi=324mm which gives 108 teeth (54 links) and the gear ratio is 108:1.
For one complete revolution of the tribrach there will be 108*360=38,880o of motor rotation.
Each degree the motor turns is the equivalent of 1/108o of camera movement.

I think 1/56 of a degree is close enough for government work, as they say. Although, to be fair, there is some slack in the internal gear train as well as the worm drive so you are never going to get it as close as that. But if you assume even a 4 degree error that is effectively only 1/15 of a degree. As I explain later, I have tried to be conservative so that errors have less effect.

In an attempt to counteract free play in the drive trains, I define a 'take up slack' movement so that any time a motor changes direction it makes this movement before doing anything else. I set this up initially using a test program but you can only really see the effects and fine-tune it once you have shot a pano. You can see it in this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/73571158@N00/5726163237/in/set-72157623635436569


As to torque, it depends where you put the camera . Your Fuji + 300 mm lens mounted near the point of balance is far less onerous than my S9500 set 35mm in front of the pivot with the lens fully extended.

The video on Flickr is a 400D with canon 70-300mm, quite well balanced I must admit. But I can nearly double the power if I need to.

Basic details of the LEGO motor power output can be found here - http://www.philohome.com/nxtmotor/nxtmotor.htm

I know that worm drives create a lot of friction, but don't forget I am using a 56:1 gear ratio. Even at 50% efficiency I can still get about 2 Nm.


By 'combination I am using' I meant at the time of shooting the pano, not what I normally use (400D & 300mm zoom).

I move the camera by manually rotating the motor horizontally until one point on the scene is at the edge of the viewfinder and record the position. I then move the camera further until the same point is at the other edge and record that. Repeat for vertical.

This is conservative since the viewfinder normally shows less than the sensor gets.

I have preset the overlap at 25% in the program but, if I cheat and stop the camera before the selected point reaches the edge, I effectively reduce the FOV the program uses (and so increase the overlap).

The program then divides the measured pano width and height by the appropriate (FOV - overlap) to work out how many shots are needed in each direction.

This means that, irrespective of the sensor shape, focal length and camera orientation, the program works out how many shots are needed in each row and column, thereby avoiding the need to store specific information.

The reason I said 'by and large', is that I prefer to shoot at long focal lengths to get maximum detail with unsophisticated lenses. I have no idea how well this would work with fisheyes.
Last edited by a a gruntpuddock on Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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a a gruntpuddock
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by a a gruntpuddock » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:31 pm

One problem I encountered (predicted but hoped it would not happen) is the focus rail unscrewing itself under load.

I had bought some Loctite Lock 'N Seal but was reluctant to try it because I had never used it before.

Could stick another nut inside the rail but that would restrict the movement of the rail (catching on the screw holding the camera).

Finally decided to drill 2mm holes through all the bits that would not stay still and put the drill in backwards as a key.

Went on ebay and bought 4 cheap drills for £1 each. Should have read the description more closely, the £1 is for 10 drills! Oh well, always good to have spares.
A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself.

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by klausesser » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:32 am

a a gruntpuddock wrote:The reason I said 'by and large', is that I prefer to shoot at long focal lengths to get maximum detail with unsophisticated lenses. I have no idea how well this would work with fisheyes.

Hi!

Fisheyes don´t need motorized heads really - 6-8 shots can easily be done manually.
I think your construction is very clever for mid-range teles. Lego really is fine and surprisingly precise!
I bought some programmable Lego stuff for my son when he was 10 - great pleasure! He used it in some creative ways over the years . .:cool:

best, Klaus
Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. Coco Chanel

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by a a gruntpuddock » Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:28 am

I only got into LEGO because I needed to build a motorised pano head, and in fact ended using very little of what I bought.

But when I look around for ideas, programming hints and so forth the ingenuity of those who use it as a hobby never fails to amaze me.

If you google LEGO and just about any device or machine you will find someone has built one!

The Rubiks Cube solvers, walking robots and Segway are particularly impressive.
A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself.


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