Motorized camera slider

For quite some time I would like to create night time movies in hyperlapses. For me, the most stunning results may be created by moving the camera along a linear path by the use of motorized sliders. Motorized sliders, which are more than 2 meters long, have an impressive price tag. Further more, these tools are bulky and heavy, especially when the setup attached to weighs in a few kilos.
Therefore I decided to build my own with a few goals in mind:

  • light weight
  • portable
  • variable length
  • suitable for a load of a few kilos
  • wider range of speeds
  • extendable for rotation axis
  • direct control for camera(s)

To achieve all or most of these goals, I came up with a design built around carbon fiber tubes with aluminum screw-in fixtures. Appropriate tubes may be built from scratch or are readily available for camera gimbals. I chose the camera gimbal extensions, as there is no big price difference to buying stock material. Further more, they come in a handy size of +/- 40cm in length.
The end supports will have to hold the tubes as well as a gear belt, along which the slider cart will be driven. For long setups, I created supports, to prevent bending and excessive stress to the tubes. Both types of support will have legs as well as tripod mount screw holes (3/8 UNC thread)
The slider cart consists of 4 blocks holding 3 pulley wheels each. The blocks are attached to a base plate (in test setup a plywood sheet). In the middle of the base plate lies the motor unit consisting of a steper motor and 4 guiding wheels to create enough tension for the gear belt to be driven by the motor.

All in all, the shopping list is really limited, as most parts were 3D-printed. What I had to purchase or use (most parts were already to be found in the workshop) was:

  • carbon fiber rods (at least 8)
  • 24 ball bearings type 626 2RS (6x19x6 mm)
  • GT2x10mm belt matching the desired length
  • GT2 20 tooth drive gear
  • 4 guide wheels without teeth for 10mm belt
  • 1 NEMA 14 stepper motor, <3V nominal voltage
  • several M5 and M6 screws, washers and nuts
  • 3/8 UNC thread taper
  • approximately 0.5m of 40x3mm Aluminum sheet
  • 25cm of 30x50x3mm Aluminum L shaped profile
  • Arduino, Stepper motor controller like A4988, 12-18V (lithium) battery
  • 1 can of rubber spray like Plasti-Dip (c)

Most of the time I spent was in CAD constructing the parts. Printing took about 3 days. The pulley wheels have to be sanded for a smooth surface before coating with rubber. The remaining time was spent in cutting, drilling and tapering the aluminum parts, before all parts could be attached together.

The first test run was more than pleasing. See for yourself:

The next thing to do is to create a control box with all the features implemented for every day use πŸ™‚

Kruste & Krume – The Vienna bread festival

When baking your own bread, you get tempted to visit places with bread offerings. This time I visited the “Kruste & Krume” bread festival in Vienna. Located at the wonderful Kursalon HΓΌbner (a Renaissance building from the middle of the 19th century, next to Stadtpark), the festival hosted more than 30 bakeries. Each one offering their portfolio of breads and sweets to purchase or even as samples. During the day, continuous demonstrations and first hand contact to master bakers as well as trainers made the festival a visit worth the time spent.

Damascus knive workshop

Today I could participate in a workshop to create my own damascus knive. With the guidance of the really well experienced smith, I could manage to forge a 189 layer blade out of 7 individual metal strips. (OK – to be honest, the essential parts of the forging were done by Walter, the smith). I am really pleased with the final result – my own kitchen knive in Santoku style…

 

Turducken? Yes TurDuCken it is!

For new-year’s-eve we are having a couple of friends to celebrate with. The special occasion also requests a special treat. So… For a while I was amazed by the monstrous creation of a turducken, which I wanted to prepare for this evening. You don’t know what a turducken is?

Well, pick a turkey, duck and a chicken and stuff them within each other. Sounds cruel. Well, it is someway. As you start by completely deboning all three birds. Pay attention to leave all the flesh and skin in tac! I also forward the suggestion I read, to remove the skin from the duck – which is or becomes too greasy. Have a good amount of bread stuffing (like from the yummy Thanksgiving roast turkey) ready.
Now, starting with the duck, fill all cavities with stuffing. Close and re-shape the bird. Now place the duck inside (or on top of the opened) chicken. Fill any cavities with stuffing. Again, close and reshape. Finally, place the duck in the chicken inside (or on top of the opened) turkey. Add stuffing and close neatly. Use medium-thick twine to sew the turkey closed. Add some more twine all around for security and fix the drum-sticks as close to the meat as possible.
Now you are ready for roasting – or as I prefer it – low temperature cooking with a final touch of roasting.
My turducken, weighing in approximately 5kg, had a good 8 hours time at 110Β°C for a juicy and delicious result. *yummy*

 

A healthy food tree for kids school break

This time a bunch of kids were up for a break with healthy food. How to prepare the food to look appealing? Get creative!
In the evening before, I made a good loaf of bread. The sliced bread will serve as a tree trunk. And all the good food (veggies and cheese) get’s distributed around to shape a tree or even a garden scenery with flowers and grass πŸ™‚
Dig in kids!

Total solar eclipse 2017 timelapses from Riverton, Wyoming

After working through all the data collected from the solar eclipse in August, I combined the wide angle images (8mm lens) and the images captured through my 600mm travel telescope to timelapses. The wide-angle video is the result of more than 800 single exposures, covering the day from around 6am till 5pm. The most interresting part around totality is significantly slowed down, as totality would be over in a blink. During partial phase, I was so busy trying to fix my automated triggering system, that I did not realize the clouds until post processing. So it was really pleasing to see all the clouds above my site vanish moments before totality began. On the other hand, the remaining clouds increased the view of the shadow of the moon passing over, which is just amazing!
The inlay in the wide angle video is derived from the high res video.

I am really pleased with the results, but check for yourself!

Road Trip USA 2017 – timelapse

I condensed in this video the first 18 days on the road to a 5 minute movie. A lot of countryside besides the roads may be seen, but the video gives just a hint of all the beauty lying beyond, when you get out of the car an make a few paces. So, get out of the car and enjoy the places you would otherwise rush by πŸ˜‰

The following map (generated in google maps with a few marker points along the route; the full path would exceed the maximum allowed waypoints) shows the coarse path we went:

About the video:
– 4K action cam attached to the upper right corner of the windscreen with a suction cup mount
– camera captured a still image every 3 seconds
– covering 19 days (18 on the road)
– almost 80 hours driving
– more than 3500 miles covered in the video
– 94500 images in 257GB data

Roadtrip USA 2017

Holidays… Usually I like to go on holidays with minimum amount of planning (ahead). Though this time, planning started more than 6 months prior to departure. The reason for the long planning phase was the total solar eclipse of 2017 (also cited as “The Great American Eclipse”). Choosing the right place and combining the eclipse day with sight seeing, adventure, photography opportunities, etc. took quite some time.

The final tour plan consisted of 4 major themes:

  • Route 66 (from LA to New Mexico)
  • National Parks (escpecially Yellowstone)
  • Solar Eclipse in Wind River park
  • Recreation in Florida

Including Florida, we made a tour of impressive 5000 miles, 6 National Parks in 10 states. (If you are interrested in our tour detailes, drop me a message)

Here is a small set of photos, representing the wonderful places we’ve been to. (For the solar eclipse photos, see the previous post)

Total solar eclipse 2017 from Riverton, Wyoming

All the effort to travel around the world for just a few images…  Well, it was really a challenge to carry the 60+kg equippment to Riverton, Wyoming. It was even more challenging to try to last-minute fix an error in my computer controlled camera trigger system. And last but not least, 2 cameras stopped capturing during totality… It would have been a total disappointment, if…

… if my best camera / lens combination I had set up wouldn’t have done the following πŸ™‚
See for yourself, why I am absolutely happy: