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Public Lab Research note

Initial results: Arduino driven servo with CHDK for aerial panoramas

by patcoyle | May 22, 2014 04:21 22 May 04:21 | #10500 | #10500

What I want to do

Explore use of Arduino control of Parallax servo with CHDK for aerial panoramas.

My attempt and results

I modified a Brooxes Electric AutoKAP Kit (BEAK) to replace the clickPAN-IR rotator-trigger with an Arduino contolling the Parallax servo (continuous rotation) and CHDK remote shutter. I edited an Arduino sketch made to trigger a pair of cameras using CHDK remote shutter. The intent, based on suggestions from Chris Fastie, was to trigger the camera, rotate, delay, then repeat; to shoot oblique images to use for panoramas.

Here is the sketch:


I also used the Picavet lacing with quick release S-biners to allow it to be moved between rigs, from the 3D-printed Redstone Rig to the Brooxes BEAK, in this case.

Flew Levitation Delta with Canon A495; triggered by a Borderless Electronics $9 Arduino clone. The photos' EXIF info showed they were triggered at two-second intervals, per the Arduino sketch loop.


Videos in the following playlist illustrate the development, ground testing and initial flights. Note the issues with kite turning to right, and in final moments of last video, diving for the ground:

Here is another panorama done with Photoshop Photomerge. Note these did not use successive images, but selected images in proximity of desired view. This suggests a shorter rotation duration is needed.


Here is contact sheet view of the 300-plus images from the flight, again suggesting a smaller rotation between images is in order.


Questions and next steps

The configuration is not optimized. Next steps:

Refine the rotation time so a smaller arc is traversed at each step

Check the camera results to ensure pictures are saved at each step

Explore camera orientation for pleasing panoramas

Port the Arduino sketch to the smaller form factor Digispark board

Power the servo and the camera trigger from the battery powered Arduino

Trouble shoot issue with kite turning to right, and in final moments of last video, diving for the ground

Why I'm interested

Integration of simple computing capability into our projects can provide flexibility and versatility and I'd like to learn more about using these small boards. People have expressed in making aerial panoramas.


This is an awesome panorama system, Pat. Looks like you'll be able to do dual camera triggers too.

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Pat, this is great progress. It looks like you stitched a 360 panorama. Two seconds is really quick. It might be hard to settle the camera for the shot at that speed. Is it possible to slow the speed of the servo? That might reduce the time it takes to settle down after a rotation. Some of the photos are a little blurry from motion. Did you have a slow shutter speed or was the motion too much for 1/800 second? It's really great that you can just modify the sketch to adjust speed and timing. For single servo (rotation only) panoramas, you can capture more of the scene with the camera in portrait position. Maybe you can make a jig to hold the camera sideways. Your kite behavior could have been the wind changing direction. I hope it pulled out of the dive.

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