The View Up Here

Random scribblings about kites, photography, machining, and anything else

A KAP Rig for Panoramas

Posted by Tom Benedict on 30/04/2010

I finished the modifications to my KAP rig to give it an additional axis of rotation: plan.  With the flip of a switch, I can rotate my camera 90 degrees for doing verticals or for making vertical panoramas.  The additional axis was almost entirely constructed using parts from Brooxes.  The only custom part could be replaced with a slightly modified commercial part.  Here’s the axis as-built:

HoVer Axis

The modification didn’t really add that much weight to the rig, but it did add a considerable amount of bulk. I didn’t really pick up on how much until I rotated the camera to vertical:

Subtle as a Dump Truck

I modified my transmitter by removing one of the unused axes and installing a TPDT switch in its place. Two 10-turn 5k potentiometers wired on either side of the switch give me two independent set points I can switch between. One was set to position the camera horizontally, and the other was set to position the camera vertically. The 10-turn potentiometers allow plenty of room for fine-tuning and dialing the HoVer axis in really accurately.

Sit 'n Spin

I haven’t had an opportunity to fly it yet, but that should come over the weekend.  The only other modification I still need to make is to add provisions for my safety lanyard, which is shown hanging in the wind here, and to add Velcro safety straps for the camera itself.  My previous method for strapping the camera down would interfere with the new HoVer axis.

The parts used for the HoVer axis are a Brooxes Utility Frame, a Brooxes Deluxe Gear Guide, and a custom hub.  The reason for the custom hub was to provide a positive connection between the camera bracket and the HoVer axle.  Using a plain-shaft hub runs the risk of having the set screw come loose and the camera falling free of the frame.  So I made a hub with a threaded hole in the middle.  This screws onto the HoVer axle, and a set screw then locks it in place.  If you’d like to make this modification to your rig and don’t have a machine shop to make parts in, a good alternative would be to pick up a 1/8″ bore gear hub from Servo City, enlarge the bore, and tap it #8-32 to go on the Deluxe Gear Guide axle.

One unanticipated benefit of this is that attaching the camera to the rig is very straightforward now.  The camera can rotate in all three axes, so it’s a simple matter to flip the camera on its side, roll it back a little, and really get some easy access to the tripod screw.

I can’t wait to get this rig off the ground and see what Autopano Pro does with the resulting photo sets.

– Tom

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