Monday, January 23, 2006

High Speed Camera Platform with Pan and Tilt

This weekend I happened to come into possession of a $170 store credit to one of the better hobby shops in the area. Not being into RC cars or planes I figured I’d just nose around and see if anything struck my fancy. Well, something did. A six channel futuba radio set that came with 4 servos. I didn’t know what I’d do with it but I had a pretty good thought it would be useful for robotics experimenting and stuff so I plunked down the store credit and another $30 and walked out wanting to play with my new toy.



After brainstorming a bit with my best friend B, we decided to create a remotely controlled pan and tilt base for my miniature wireless color camera. I pondered for a few minutes and decided to use 3M poster tabs for a secure but temporary way to adhere it all together and in all of 5 minutes had a working pan and tilt system feeding video wirelessly to my HMD. Pretty neat to be able to put it down somewhere and just look around like you were there.



Then came the inevitable escalation. “We need to make it move” was what B said. My problem then was simple. Not being into RC cars, I didn’t have one. He said lets use mine. Uh oh. I remember screwing around last summer with him and his car. That thing is fast. Scary fast. Running full bore with no limitations it can hit nearly 50 mph. At one tenth scale that means net effect would be like a full size car running 500mph. Sounded like fun. So it was off to pick his car up and head to the shop.

As soon as we got there he went and started charging his batteries, and setting the car up. I went and started fabricating a bracket to mount the two servos together securely. Then mounted the camera with nylon zip ties (didn’t want a permanent solution and these things are pretty strong). I tested the pan and tilt mechanism and everything went smoothly with no hang ups.




Next we mounted my new receiver into his car (he had been running a 3 channel radio since it’s a car. This needed at least 4 channels to run so we used mine.) and mounted the camera system on it. We used double sided tape to mount everything and I was really surprised at how strong the bond was. Once it was all assembled, it was time to play.




Whoa. As in a Keanu Reaves kinda whoa. That car is fast. It was really strange trying to get used to driving it. We had the throttle and steering set on one stick and the pan and tilt on the other. It was really neat to be running in a straight line and then be able to just look left or up. One wired aspect was the out of body experience of driving it around and seeing a person, looking closer at them and realizing it’s you. The camera didn’t have a huge field of vision, but it didn’t matter so much because you could turn the camera there and see where you were. Also it was neat looking down at the tires when you turned, the ground rushing by, the chair leg as you hit it.



And hit things we did. A lot. Even got stuck under a desk. And the tape held, the wire ties held. I have to say it was a great way to waste an afternoon. But I have to be honest, it seems like it would be better suited to tank treads. Video from a platform that fast can just be rough.

Here's the video... cheesy soundtrack and all ;)




carvideospeedracer.WMV

22 Comments:

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Video! Video! Video!

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger -Josh said...

Thats a sweet idea! Id love to use somthing like that in a film...
Great idea guys!

 
At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic, but is there any chance of a .MOV, .MPG, anything like that which will allow the rest of us to vicariously experience this?

 
At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome.

next step will be stereoscopic vision ala z800 emagin with 2 cameras, mounting it on an RC helicoptor.

 
At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Cypher said...

Guys, that is so damn cool...Great hack i hope you had a blast :D:D:D

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger anomalous said...

lets see some video!

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger anomalous said...

lets see some video!

 
At 11:47 PM, Blogger Andy said...

It's like a predator drone on wheels!!! Dude, you have to fit it with little rocket launchers you can load with bottle rockets or something. Oooh! Give it some AI and teach it to stalk things! This could get really out of hand...

 
At 12:22 AM, Blogger Fjr said...

Are you not gonna share any video with us?

 
At 2:32 AM, Anonymous Dave Hylands said...

Do you have a link to the camera/receiver and viewer that you used?

 
At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

okkaaay

 
At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yay

 
At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Albert Chan said...

sounds really cool, is there any way you can upload some video. thanks.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

I'll put together some video this weekend for you guys. I'm glad you liked it. It'll give me a reason to rebuild it.

This is an equivalent camera

Here's the HMD.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

I had actually thought to mount something like a airsoft gun or something to it... figure i do have 2 more channels to play with. >:)

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger digiblade said...

Way, Friggin, Cool !
More details please on the How-to. Can't wait to see some videos as well....nice job

 
At 9:41 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Heh, for all those interested... there will be videos soon. We shot a ton of video today. Just need to take some time to cut it together nice.

Thanks for everyone's comments. Keep them coming.

 
At 6:47 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Here's the video cheesy soundtrack and all ;). Enjoy!

headtracker.WMV

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

oops, wrong link.

http://www.zerocalvin.com/ryan/carvideospeedracer.WMV

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which HMD did you use? Looks like a Sony(??)

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which HMD did you use? Looks like a Sony(??)

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

The hmd is identical to either of these units (rebranded)

Crystal View

or

Innovatek

Their cheap and the quality is pretty good.

 

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