[merlin/orion] Interface  

Everything you need to motorize your head
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[merlin/orion] Interface

by fma38 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:31 pm

klausesser wrote:
AlexandreJ wrote:Yes, fma38 showed us a working version one month ago. It's so coooooool !

yeah - i read about it in the French Merlin-thread. But due to my very limited French i didn´t understand a thing . . :cool: just watched pictures and tried to remember my 6 years French in school. But that´s long ago . . and we didn´t talk about pano very much those times . . :P
I mean: is there already something to buy and work with?

Not yet; we are looking for a company to build the serial interface. I found a bluetooth-to-serial converter to plug after the serial interface to drive the head from any BT device...
Frédéric

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by fma38 » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:51 pm

Ok, here are some news: I received my BT-to-Serial converter, and it works fine (at least without the original remote connected. I still have to figure out why when I plug it, I miss some datas). This is this product:

http://www.aircable.net/serial.html

And I will soon contact someone to make a ready-to-use interface, which will be sell on Kolor web site (I think).
Frédéric

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by klausesser » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:25 pm

fma38 wrote:Ok, here are some news: I received my BT-to-Serial converter, and it works fine (at least without the original remote connected. I still have to figure out why when I plug it, I miss some datas). This is this product:

http://www.aircable.net/serial.html

And I will soon contact someone to make a ready-to-use interface, which will be sell on Kolor web site (I think).

Hi Frédéric!

That´s good news!

Are you gonna build a controlling via a laptop or a palm or so and sell it ready to use?

best, Klaus
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by fma38 » Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:42 pm

No, only the interface will be sell ready-to-use.

But I'm writing a software which will run on a PDA (WindowsCE), or laptop (linux/windows/MacOS). See:

http://www.autopano.net/forum/t3103-papywizard-panohead-control-software,written-in-python

You can even test it now, as there is a simulating 3D view ;)
Frédéric

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by fma38 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:12 pm

Ok, I think we found a company which will be able to sell us a ready-to-use interface to drive the Orion mount :) I'm in touch with them to see if they can modify it a little bit in order to directly connect the AIRcable Serial3 BlueTooth adapter (needs a power supply on the RS232 connector)...

As soon as I have news (and price), I will post all usefull things.
Frédéric

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by klausesser » Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:21 pm

fma38 wrote:Ok, I think we found a company which will be able to sell us a ready-to-use interface to drive the Orion mount :) I'm in touch with them to see if they can modify it a little bit in order to directly connect the AIRcable Serial3 BlueTooth adapter (needs a power supply on the RS232 connector)...

As soon as I have news (and price), I will post all usefull things.

Great news!! :)

best, klaus
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by fma38 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:04 pm

They are OK to make some modifications for us. For example, I asked for a power supply on the pin9 of the serial connector (to power up the BT adapter), and to have the serial connector attached on the box, rather on a cable.

But they are asking me what length to use for the cable between their interface and the Orion mount. I personnaly use a very short one (5cm), just to be able to glue the interface and the BT adapter behind the mount, but you may have other needs (put the interface on the tripod, for example). Could you tell me quickly what do you prefer?
Frédéric

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by klausesser » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:36 pm

fma38 wrote:They are OK to make some modifications for us. For example, I asked for a power supply on the pin9 of the serial connector (to power up the BT adapter), and to have the serial connector attached on the box, rather on a cable.

But they are asking me what length to use for the cable between their interface and the Orion mount. I personnaly use a very short one (5cm), just to be able to glue the interface and the BT adapter behind the mount, but you may have other needs (put the interface on the tripod, for example). Could you tell me quickly what do you prefer?

Hi Frédéric!

I´d prefer strongly a short connection using Bluetooth.

Besides: when shooting some hundred picutres in one sequence i´m wondering how long a set of batteries will last . .
Thought about a small motobike(mofa)-battery instead - feeding the head´s extenal powersocket.

very best from Düsseldorf, Klaus
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by gerardm » Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:39 am

Hi,

I am very interested in your endeavor. I run the pixorb through a toughbook cf18 1.1 ghz laptop. Panny says that the battery lasts 4-4.5 hours. However it does not. My advice is never under power nor under estimate troubles in the field.

If you like the "idea of bluetooth" then support it, but don't assume it WILL work when you have to change CF cards, camera batteries, and pda & laptop batteries. All kinds of things happen in the field: the light changes, hence no more shooting. When you are to make work everything should be working, with a plan "b". This was an issue when I did 500+ manual rotate and tilting shots like the WTC image. The light kept changing, so the artist waits.

You should provide both options: bluetooth and other. The issue is "picking-up" the program after a new battery or some stoppage has occurred on the controller side of the equation.

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by fma38 » Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:45 am

Yes, you are absolutly right about batteries... The Orion can be externaly powered up, so one can use any kind of battery (Use 9V instead 12V, as 9V battery can be charged on a car battery, and a 12V can't. And 9V works fine with Orion).
Frédéric

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by fma38 » Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:07 am

Some news... The company has made a prototype; I'm waiting for an offer to buy one, and test it. I also have to buy another BT module (from AIRcable too), cheaper, and check they work fine together.

About the serial interface price, they said it will be arround 25€ + taxes + shipping (if we buy 30 pieces).
Frédéric

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by fma38 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:12 pm

Some news...

I validated the prototype, but lost all contact with the company: no answer to my e-mails! So, we won't work with them.

Fortunatly, Claude (from APP forum), found a company in england (http://www.tronisoft.com) which sells a module which nearly fits ours needs:

http://www.tronisoft.com/4201.php

Claude sent me this module and asked me to make more tests. I think it will be OK to use, with a little modification (just 2 resistors on the cable from the module to the Merlin/Orion head).

I also contacted Tronisoft, and they are OK to make a ready-to-use product, enclosed in a little box, with the cable. As soon as I validate my tests, I will contact them and Kolor to see how we will sell this product.

I will also post the modification on the cable, for those who want to order the standard module right now, and wire it themselves (very easy).

Stay tuned!

Also note that they sell a bluetooth-to-serial adapter; so, we can order everthing from the same place :)
Last edited by fma38 on Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Frédéric

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by fma38 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:08 pm

Ok, all works fine :) Here is some explanations for those who want to build themselves the cable...

1) buy the 4201 Tronisoft module: http://www.tronisoft.com/4201.php

2) get a phone cable with a RJ11 jack (4 wires), or a modem cable with a RJ12 (6 wires; external ones are unused). Cut a short length (15-20cm).

3) cut the red wire (unused). Connect two 220 Ohm resistors on the yellow wire. Caution: depending of the side of the phone cable you keep, colors can be inverted from my explanations and photos.

4) connect the wires and resistors on the Tronisoft module as follow:

- black: GND
- green: +V
- resistors: RD and WR

5) that's it! As soon as you connect and turn on the Merlin, you should see all leds on. RD/WR leds should blink during operation. You can remove the RD/WR leds and put a low power on on VCC to avoid too much current.

6) if you use a bluetooth converter (from AIRcable or Tronisoft), you can power it by closing the little jumper near the sub-D connector (edit: the jumper is not implemented; just short-wired the 2 contacts near the sub-D. Have a look at the product picture).

Feel free to ask for more informations.




Last edited by fma38 on Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by fma38 » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:20 pm

I made a mistake: the green wire has to be connected to the +V pin of the module, not on VCC pin! (already corrected in the previous post).
Frédéric

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by n6mod » Sun Aug 24, 2008 1:58 am

If I'm reading all of this correctly, a BT-serial interface with TTL level I/O would work directly, without the 4201 board, right? I'm thinking of something like the BlueSMiRF from SparkFun.

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by fma38 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 6:26 pm

Yes, you're right, it should work! You just need to add 2 resistors (I will ask them to confirm that special usage). The only bad point is power supply: it needs 3.3-6V range, and Merlin outputs 9-12V.

But It is really an interesting solution; I'll try to order one unit and make some tests...
Frédéric

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by n6mod » Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:49 pm

fma38 wrote:Yes, you're right, it should work! You just need to add 2 resistors (I will ask them to confirm that special usage). The only bad point is power supply: it needs 3.3-6V range, and Merlin outputs 9-12V.

But It is really an interesting solution; I'll try to order one unit and make some tests...

I just posted in a thread you started in December on the SparkFun forum asking that very thing. :)

I think I have a BlueSMiRF at home (was going to write an SNMP MIB for the Roomba...). I don't yet have an Orion mount...but there's a store not far from me. It's very tempting. I got papywizard installed last night on my N800. once I figured out where to get the python packages, it was a trivial install.

-Zandr

PS: This might be off-topic for this thread, but what does APP do with the featureless sky shots you'll get from a setup like this? The Gigapan stitcher seems to pay attention to sequence and drops them in where they "should" be. Is this a feature of AP Giga?

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by fma38 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:57 pm

Thanks for the post on SparkFun forum :)

When you install papywizard using the debian package, the installer also install all needed packages (I added python packages as dependencies).

APP 2.0 will use the xml fil papywizard can generate to precisely put the orphaned images. It stiil need a lot of tests (I'm waiting for APP 2 on linux), but I think all will be fine (at least on APP side!).
Frédéric

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by n6mod » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:35 pm

fma38 wrote:When you install papywizard using the debian package, the installer also install all needed packages (I added python packages as dependencies).

Actually, that wasn't the case on my N800. I had to install maemo-python-device-env, otherwise it complained about unmet dependencies.

APP 2.0 will use the xml fil papywizard can generate to precisely put the orphaned images. It stiil need a lot of tests (I'm waiting for APP 2 on linux), but I think all will be fine (at least on APP side!).

I'm right behind you, waiting for the Mac port. (I have a linux box, though...anything but Windows. ;) )

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by fma38 » Wed Aug 27, 2008 7:10 am

tived wrote:[...]I do share a similar interest in the Merlin project, could a kind soul, please give me a break down at where we are at (or where you are at)[...]

Bad news: finally, Tronisoft can't make a ready-to-use product :(

I'll ask SparkFun if they can build something around the bluetooth module, which is a better solution (only 1 module needed)...
Last edited by fma38 on Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by klausesser » Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:25 am

fma38 wrote:
tived wrote:[...]I do share a similar interest in the Merlin project, could a kind soul, please give me a break down at where we are at (or where you are at)[...]

Bad news: finally, Tronisoft can't make a ready-to-use product :(

I'll ask SparkFun if they can build something around the bluetooth module, which is a better solution (only 1 module needed)...

Hi Frédéric!!

Well - there´s hope! A friend of mine is just finishing a handheld device which works with implemented sets of lenses, cameras and parameters to control motorized pano-heads.
It communicates via a special kind of Bluetooth - long range - with the head. The head will get a little box - which contains the receiver and an interchangable adaptor for the head - which is just plugged into the telephone-jack of the Merlin or other jacks of other, DIY, heads.
That´s because there are a lot of mechanical constructions which lacks professional electronic controllable devices.

It has an USB connection for being programmed at home with specialized sets or variables so you´ll just have to choose presets on a small display with just two buttons.
Another way would be to configure the sets in the field by using two more buttons.

I think he will have a prototype ready for the Photokina. The device´s price isn´t calculated yet - but i guess it might be around 300.-€. As a finished product, built in small series by hand, it will guarantee functionality and reliability. Size is like an iPhone, but a bit thicker with a monochrome touchable display.

Customers don´t have to care about operating-systems, gadgeds or stuff like that - it´s like a handheld-calculator or a remote-control for TV and so on. With ready configured presets and a way to change the presets for unusable parameters. Plug and play.

The pre-set parameters are combinations - as i said already - of lenses, cameras (crops), overlap, releases and so on . . the commonly usual parameters. The point is, that you can choose very quickly YOUR set of parameters in the field. There will be some presets of the commonly used camera/lens combinations and shooting situations like spheres or rectangular shootings.
The ready implemented presets can be altered at home via a PC to implement new sets or just change the implemented ones or via the built in touch-screen.

I´ll keep you informed.

best, Klaus
Last edited by klausesser on Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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by fma38 » Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:39 am

So, it is a complete remote control? It is like Nokia + interface? This is very interesting...
Frédéric

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by mediavets » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:08 pm

fma38 wrote:Bad news: finally, Tronisoft can't make a ready-to-use product :(


...

Why not?
Andrew Stephens
Many different Nodal Ninja and Agnos pano heads. Merlin/Panogear mount with Papywizard on Nokia Internet tablets.
Nikon D5100 and D40, Sigma 8mm f3.5 FE, Nikon 10.5mm FE, 35mm, 50mm, 18-55mm, 70-210mm. Promote control.

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by klausesser » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:12 pm

fma38 wrote:So, it is a complete remote control? It is like Nokia + interface? This is very interesting...

No - not like the Nokia. And not like Papywizard ;) - it´s like a pocket-calculator with selectable presets which can be varied.
He started it some time ago and told me about it - i mentioned it here somewhere - but the project went asleep for months. Now he settled down from his job as an electronic-engeneer at a big international facility and bought an astronomical head for his hobby which controls he played around with when i told him the usability of those heads for time-laps movies of stars and planets and animated movies in general (he wasn´t interested in panorama-photography first).

Some day he came along and told me he read something about extremly high prices for remote-controlled heads in pano-photography and movie-cameras and i showed him the Merlin. He bought one - and here we are . . :cool:

This guy really is a professional - he developed and built from scratch highly specialized digital scanner-cameras for photography of laboratory processes and has lots of experiences in mechanical and electronical controlled combinations.

I think this is no competition for the Papywizard because of it´s flexibility of the used hardware and it´s use of a well known operating-system.

But it might be an interesting alternative for those who are not familiar with combining hard- and software, operating-systems and so on.

The price of around 300.-€ in my eyes seems very ok for a plug-and-play device you don´t have to care about getting it run. Together with the Merlin you just will reach about 500.-€ - which is far, far away of the costs of any other usable motorized and wireless controllable 2-axis pano-head.

Think of the Pano-Machine, which is about 2000.-€ providing ONE-axis and a non-motorized vertical arm, the also ONE-axis Seitz motor which also is about 2000.-€ including the manual vertical arrray, followed by the about 3600.-€ priced TWO-axis head of Dr. Clauss or the about 6000.-$ PixOrb as some examples (i don´t know the prices exactly from my head, but they´re not far away from what i wrote as i recall).

The expensive motor-heads are very elaborated, very precise and so on. No question that the Merlin is a relative cheap-built gadged.
BUT i tested it now for about half a year and can say: it´s precise and reliable enough to do professional work with it! What more should i say?
It works VERY well - and to be honest: SHOULD there be some lack of absolute precision - when a stitcher can stitch hand-held shootings . . . it can VERY easily compensate some 1/10 of a millimeter of unprecise positioning. And it isn´t more. Really.

I use the head in combination with Papywizard running on a Nokia N800 with 20mm, 35mm, 85mm and 300mm Nikon-lenses.
Looking at the stitching-pattern it looks very precise - no need for geometrical corrections i usually
have to do with my manual head. No problem shooting at short distances using a 85mm - doing stillifes with stitched shots. Precision is there.

best, Klaus
Last edited by klausesser on Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by fma38 » Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:36 pm

mediavets wrote:
fma38 wrote:Bad news: finally, Tronisoft can't make a ready-to-use product :(
...

Why not?

They don't cut boxes, which is a most wanted feature we are looking for...
Frédéric

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