3d printed foldable shoulder rig with sound+video controls on handles

And as promised I added the front support to the foldable shoulder rig I did yesterday. You can detach the support or fold it up and keep it on the rig. I used a leg of a very cheap tripod that broke down to make a support that can be adjusted in length.


I'm back 3D printing

After many month of trying to find the bug I'm now back to 3D printing. :)


problem in battery grip conversion

Problem converting a Canon500D battery grip for the Panasonic GH1/GH2.
Powering the GH1 works well for a while now but I'm working on getting the shutter button running. Made a mistake here.
The battery grip has a nice 2-stage button (full press+half press).
My circuit would work...if the full press would not ALSO close the circuit for the half press.
So at the moment you can only focus but not trigger a photo/video to be shot with that button.

So different from this one, I need to attach GND in-between focus and shutter, replace 3KOhm with 5KOhm and replace the 2KOhm with one that gives 2KOhm when used in parallel to a 5KOhm resistor (3.5KOhm).
Problem: That 2KOhm-resistor attaches to a 0.xmm trace on a tiny connector and took me days to get right without shorting any other pathes.


LED lights for th workshop

Finally got the PTFE tubes from Makerbot. So I hope I can get the printer back online tomorrow.
Also installed the first LED light-strips to get some shadow-free lights for the workshop tables.
(Having one large light in the middle of the room is not enough here.)


GH1 battery grip

Managed to find some minutes for soldering on my GH1 battery grip.
Had to stop because there was no desoldering-wick left in the house.
No breakthrough with the GH2 external power issue (7.2V+crypto or 8.4V).

shoulder rig modification

And here is the first and most important step in my ongoing modification of the MultiRigPro -clone. The creation of the missing accessory-adapters. I did film the process any may make a HOWTO-video about it. ...if I get my laptop to no longer overheat while editing video. The original comes with such adaptres for 1/4" UNC camera-mounts, hot-shoe mounts and 3/8" microphone mounts as well as a front support. My first try at a front support failed, so I'll now go back to my original plan and design+3d print one based on one leg of a super-cheap tripod. Better then the original one mine is supposed to stay on the rig, so you can unfold it one-handed without looking when you need it. ...without interrupting the shot that suddenly takes longer then expected. Update: Found a nice red button to have controls for shutter+focus on the right handle.

modified stage box

As planned I modified a 6xXLR stage-box. Replacing 4 of the 6 XLR-plugs with XLR+6.4mm ones to make it more universal and adding 2 1/4" UNC swivel-mounts for 2 microphones or cameras. (Since a stage-box is already near the stage, this would be the perfect place to mount such a thing to complement the microphones already using the box.)


New Zoom RC04 holder RC2

Designed version 0.2 of my new Zoom RC04 holder. It uses small M3x16 bolts because the original, larger design would not work out when folding up the clone of the DVtech MultiRigPro.


5V USB power output for camera battery grips

I think I found the right part to add a 5V USB power-output to the DIY battery-grips I am making for my cameras. The idea is to hide this regulator in the dummy-batteries, so they don't take up precious space in the cramped battery-grips. http://www.hobby-hour.com/electronics/lm2576-step-down-switching-regulator.php


Tests for DIY battery grip for the Panasonic GH-2 camera

Got myself a good lab power-supply and a big illuminated, table-mounted magnifying-glass and a heated *de*soldering-iron for the workshop last weekend.
Last night the cables for the power supply.

Now I can see if it's possible to power the Panasonic GH2 cameras with modified Canon 550D battery-grips (7.2V) like I did with the GH1 model.
It looks like they tried to lock out 3rd-party batteries way stronger then with the GH1.
So if the power supply can't identify itself as Panasonic it *may be* that a higher voltage is required.
Then again, maybe it's just 2 hidden resistors in the fake battery used to attach their power supply.

If this fails, one of he cheap chinese battery-copies died on me last weekend.
So I may be able to simply gut that and use it's coulomb-counter+crypto chip but get the actual power from a battery-grip.


New Zoom RC04 holder

Based on my "remote audio controls for camera rig" (a 3d printed part to attach the RC04 remote control unit of a Zoom H4n audio recorder to the handle of a camera rig) I designed the first draft of an updated version. It's far easier to print, holds the remote more securely and attached to the thicker, padded handles of the Chinese copies of the DVtec MultiRigPro. (A very cool shoulder rig that is foldable and thus fits into a small camera bag.) It's untested and thus not finished because I'm still struggling with my Thing-o-Matic.

Resurrecting Thing-a-Matic

I just returned from a short vacation and had the nozzle and PTFE -tube sunk in Acetone. This worked very well. The ABS and PLA expanded and became rubbery. It disloged from any surface and floated around. I could pull a large, expanded tube of PLA from the PTFE-tube and I can actually see light through the 0.4mm hole in the nozzle. Sadly there was not enough time to do a test-print. Hopefully I can do that on friday night. With lots of luck printing PLA will work out this time and I can get back to create all the designs that have been piling up here.


Makerbot still failing

I tried the Thing-o-Matic again. 5 perfect layers, then suddenly skipping, only thin, uneven streams filament dripping out every now and then and jut utter chaos. I'll clean nozzle and PTFE-tube with acetone for 4 days. Then try again. I suspect my PTFE-tube to be too wide for this filament. As the print progresses the heat travels up and the filament widenes as there is room for it to widen. Will try again on tuesday night.

Projects in wiki

I updated the wiki that I use to keep notes. It now reflects the projects I'm currently actually working on and their links and notes. I don't want anything to get lost. ;) I was looking forward to building the new shoulder rig, however the chinese parts I wanted to start with have just been returned because of "unsuccessful delivery" after 14 days in customs. (I did not get a notification from customs or postal services and without such notification I can't show up at customs because it contains the required code-number of the delivery.)


printers out of order

In case anyone is wondering, why I don't post any new 3D designed objects lately: Both my printers are currently out of order. With the Thing-o-Matic something is wrong with the nozzle and I'm trying to clean it. My Repman's heated build platform MK2 has not survived moving into the new house but I haven't started building an MK3 yet. I do have a number of ideas and untested designs but I'll not post them until I have actually build and tested them.


Stage box

And the final thing I took apart tonight:

A simple stage-box with 6 XLR female connectors, one thick 10 meter cable ending in 6 XLR male connectors.

The idea here is to replace 4 of the XLR female connectors with combined XLR+6.3mm ones to make this more versatile and to add 2 1/4" swivel-heads to mount microphones or a camera directly onto the box.
(You get these heads for cheap as mountings for security cameras.)
The swivel-heads shall double as a helper to keep the cable organised when not in use.

...maybe I'll come up with something to put into the mostly empty box.
Lots of wasted space that can be put to good use.
Maybe store adapters in there or batteries.

(click on the photo to see more.)

Update: the finished modification

E27 230V camera -flash light bulp

And the next thing to take apart today....

These devices are cheap and often included if you buy a light-stand or umbrella on ebay.
They have a number of problems that I am trying to solve by modifying it:

  • The light-sensor can't be switched off, so this thing flashes when other prople then you try to take a photo with a flash. => I'll add a switch for that.

  • You can't control the brightness. => I'm trying to come up with a way to do that. Have to talk with some people on how to do this.

  • Your equaly cheap RF receiver will dangle off the side => I'm trying to include the PCB of these wireless flash triggers into the case and add a hot-shoe to the case in the process.

The PCB seems to be well labeled and the parts trivial to identify and large enough to solder.
I just need to be careful about all the traces that carry 230V.

(click to see the other photos) Looks like 130V AC is fed through diodes and a 0,2KOhm resistor (left side on this photo) labeled "200RJ" and "10 Watt" into 3x 275V 220uF capacitors. I guess replacing that giant resistor with a variable one that I can control with a knob could allow me to reduce the power in the capacitors and thus the power of the flash.


Tonight is the night of taking-things-apart. :)
I started with a T.Bon MicPlug USB that I got in an already opened packaging cheaper then the original low price tag.

It's not intended to be taken apart at all. That much is obvious.
But my plan here is to scrap most of the electronics anyway.
I want to keep the USB 5V to 48V phantom -power supply,
add a second XLR-connector to the end that formerly held all the cables,
move the USB-port to the side and
attach an unbalanced cable with a 2.5mm stereo to the side.
(Without the buttons there are enough holes for that.)

The resulting tube shall then allow me to connect 1 or 2 phantom powered microphones to my digital camera.
The USB-power shall come either from a battery-grip or one of these cheap USB-battery-packs.
(USB has emerged as the one universal power connection that is always avaliable.)

(Click the photo to see all the other photos.)


more progress in wprkshop

I did some more progress in the creations of my workshop. The hole-boards are now mounted. (Easy to notice as only half as many tools are now lying around.) They don't attach to the wall but to the table because drilling holes into *this* wall is a nightmare. I also finalized the electrical work. The outlets are now neatly seated along the walls. I have no clue how to mount my 3 sets of hex-keys to the wall yet. (metric, imperial and torx)



I'm slowly making progress in building my workshop.
After installing the Basotect foam via Power Strips failed, I now tried nails.
They sort of work but it's not very good.
I also found a cheap compressor+limiter+expander+de-esser on eBay and modified the 19" mounting to mount it below the table in the "documentation" corner.
(Just between the "electronics" and the "mechanics" section of the workshop. ;)


sound proofing my workshop

I want to line the walls of my small workshop with Basotect -foam. The plan was to use Tesa Power-Strips to attach them to the walls and be able to remove them 10 years later. Problem: It looks like the Power-Strips/Poster-Strips dont stick to the foam. They work fine on any other surface in the room but not the foam. :/


converting an XLR stage box

I think I'll attach 2 small swivel -mounts designed for security cameras to stage-box (a small box with 6 XLR-sockets attached to a single 10m cable that ends in 6 matching XLR-plugs. Designed to reduce cable-clutter on a stage). That way I can mount 2 shotgut-microphones or one camera and a microphone directly to that box. I would be at the back (at the other end of the 10 meter cable or with some extension-cord inserted) with a camera and sound recorder while the microphones face the scene and are not as much in the way as 2 small tripods and lots of cables would be. Maybe also exchange 2 of the XLR sockets by combined XLR/6.3mm sockets. More options when hunting for a cable....


Status of camera accessory projects

Another train ride.
Too cramped to continue with my 3d printed tripod on the laptop.
As for the 3d printed super battery grip for the GH1/GH2 , I'll probably leave out the phantom power and just provide USB power out for space reasons.
Then modify a cheap XLR2USB cable to take USB power and provide 2.5mm stereo out for the camera.
That is much more flexible to use and has even less weight and bulk to carry.
I ordered a cheap Chinese copy of a foldable camera rig that I want to modify to carry an optional rod system and microphone mounts.
Making a custom bag for it, I could have a lightweight shoulder rig that I can take straight out of the bag and be ready within seconds.
I'll probably have to replace all the cheap bolts and custom make the missing front support but being able to create any custom shape on the 3D printers, that should actually be fun.


First draft: 3d printed carbon tripod

On the train ride today I designed the very first sketch of a 3d printed tripod for heavy loads. It shall be made of CFK = carbon fiber. The rods seem to go for a sum of <100eur for 2x3 rods per leg. Way less then what even a light CFK tripod costs. And I have the option of adding mounts for sound recorder, microphones, cables, batteries,... directly into the design of the tripod. (e.g. sitting next to the fully extracted tripod on a chair and having the remote control on one of the legs.) A first search turned up 10x9x1000mm CFK tubes for 5,71eur (4,70eur). That would be 102,78eur(84,60eur) + some plastic, nuts and bolts for the entire tripod. (No head)


phantom powering batery grip

I got the idea to add 2 6.3mm sound connectors to my battery grip since XLR is physically too large but XLR to 6.3mm is common. The battery grip needs to connect to the microphone+remote shutter port of the camera anyway for the shutter button to work. The grip would add the ability to connect microphones that need phantom power without having to sync external audio from the Zoom H4n recorder. I got me one PP2B, thinking that without the XLR-connectors and the battery the electronics should be very small and possibly insert-able into my Battery grip. Well....the electronics are small. But distributed over an overly large PCB. No way that is going to fit into the battery grip. So...back to square one. I guess I need to build my own phantom power injector.
Maybe using an inverter to get >48V from the camera supply voltabge of 7,2-10V and then an TL 783 + 2 resistors would be small enough. Then have 2 injectors from http://sound.westhost.com/project96.htm (4 zenner diodes, 4 resistors, 2 capacitors per stereo-channel.)


black PLA arrived

The black PLA for 3d printing just arrived.
They even included some sweets in the package. :)

To get my RepMan running again I'm currently mounting it on an IKEA table that fits 19" equipment.
I'll drill some holes into the table instead of using feet. This should keep the RepMan from moving at high speeds or when there's a know in the filament and the strong stepper motors pull the complete roll of filament up or the printer down.

power for the new workshop

I just installed a box of fast tripping circuit breakers and an additional FI for the workshop. Each of the 3 sections of the woprkshop "Electronics", "Documentation" and "Mechanics" has it's own 10A circuit breaker and it's own main power switch. All run through an FI and then into a common power outlet and thus through the 16A circuit breaker that governs that room (including the lights). So if anything ever breaks, one of these 10A breakers or the FI should trip and the tables are out of power but there is still light in the room to fix the problem. I do not yet have large, red emergency-off switches and there are not as many power-sockets as I want to end up with and the XLR-cable for the microphone has no hole in the table yet and..... Oh any my new vice has arrived! I really like this one. It can grip objects of any shape and be turned upright.


I'm planning on finally mounting that dual-head upgrade to my Repman. That means I need a test-object that is uses 2 different plastics. so....to not waste any material I designed the HOWTO -logo in Alibre to create a triangle-shaped microphone screen with the black logo. ...in 3d...with the tools reaching over the edge of the actual microphone flag to make it obvious that it's the 3d printed logo of a 3d printing "home-improvement" show.

[REPORT] Part Time Scientists - Moon Mission (at CCCamp 2011)

Interview with Robert of the Part Time Scientists. One of the competitors of the Lunar X Price to send a rover to the moon. Recorded during the Chaos Communication Congress 2011 in Finowfurt Berlin.


I just changed the background of my YouTube channel to reflect the logo I have taken up. There is quite a lot of new content in the pipeline but moving to the new house is still taking up most of my time and will be for quite a while. I'm currently planning:
  • A 3d printed conversion kit to build a battery grip for the GH1/GH2 camera that contains phantom-power for external microphones, connections for mains-power and to be powered by cheap USB-cellphone-power supplies and to supply USB-power itself (e.g. to my Zoom H4n USB-power-cable
  • A 3D printed, 3 dimensional, 2 color microphone flag and a 3d-printed QR-code being printed as a 2-color print as an example of how to use the dual-head modification of the BitsFromBytes RepMan.
  • a 3d printed carbon (CFK) ultra-lightweight yet very sturdy camera tripod (3 telescopic segments, 2 rods per leg, cross-supports made from sturdy fabric)
  • ....
My new workshop is still being set up. There is no light yet and no sound-proofing. Also my new black PLA for 3d printing is not there yet. So....yes, all of this will have to wait much longer.


New house and new workshop

I'm slowly getting settled in.
Properly secured electricity for the new workshop is underway.
(3 tables with their own small circuit-breaker,
one FI safery switch for everything except light
and a huge emergency-off always within reach.)
I have tables now and the sound-proofing for walls and ceiling is in the late planning stages.
Table drill (way too large but I like that for accuracy in terms of position and rotational speed) with many ways to adjust it's surface
and a small grinder for cleaning up 3d printed parts are already there.
I still have to decide on a good table-saw.

The large tools can be moved around the room to use them on large things freely.
One table will be reserved for small machine building
with a properly sorted collection of nuts and bolts.
M2-M12 as well as 1/4" and 3/4" in a number of standard sizes.
I'll then try to limit myself to these sizes where ever possible in later designs for the 3d printer.
Another table will be for electronics with a raised stand for soldering station, soldering fume filter, illuminated magnifying glass,... .
In the corner there will be my large microphone to document whatever I'm working on along the way.
Camera mounting points with markers on the tables where the recorded frame ends are also planned.

The room is very small with a low ceiling.
I'll try to sound proof it to protect both my hearing and that of the neighbors.

...still a long way to go but it's slowly taking shape now.


New Dropbox API

I just received word that Dropbox has finally published version 1 of their API.
I'll have a good look at it one of these days and probably update my Android Dropbox apps.

Of cause this will take a while as I'm still in the process of moving to a new house.
That's also why I haven't written much in the weeks after CCCamp 2011.


moving in

Sorry for not posting any projects in a while.
The reason is simple. I'm still moving and will be for a few weeks at least.

I'm building myself a really nice workshop in the new house and this takes a while.
Current status:
Way too large (and thus hopefully accurate in terms of positioning and rotational speed) drill press and a belt+stone grinder for cleaning up 3d printed parts are already there.
I still haven't decided on a large saw yet.
These will be the largest tools and mounted to very sturdy movable tables to not be restricted by the walls.
The first tables and drawers are now in place. So I can start stowing things away and get the cardboard boxes out.
Walls and work-areas on the tables are still to be done.

On the long table I want to set up set up 2 work-areas.
One for electronics (with soldering-station,.. and a wall of small bins to have a sorted set of the most common parts).
One for smart-parts engineering with a row of all typical M3-M12 nuts, bolts, wing-nuts, locking-nuts and threaded rods and of cause the usual tools like metric+imperial+torx hex-keys, wrenches and screw-drivers.

Of cause the large Repman will have it's fixed place too and the mobile Thing-o-Matic too!

The interesting part will come after these walls are assembled.
In the corner I want to set up my microphone and on both work-stations fixed 1/4 camera-bolts (plus markings on the work-table where the video frame ends) to document things I'm working on.
The walls and ceiling will be covered with acoustics foam both to protect my hearing and the neighbors from the noise of the table drill and to get a nice, dry sound recording when I'm speaking.



..made some photos and a lot of 3d video on the first day of the camp already.
I hope that my 5th attempt to upload at least the opening ceremony as a 3d video to YouTube now works.
At the end of the day I simply collapsed into my car to sleep. (drive all night and then had a camp day....)

update: video upload finally worked!

Update 2: My little video got mentioned on the CCC twitter stream.


3d dual remote shutter for Panasonic GH1

Just before CCCamp (where I plan to film in 3d a lot),
I managed to solder myself a dual remote shutter to
get both of my cameras to release the shutter at the same time
or start a video recording at the same time.

More on this later....

Battery grip for Panasonic GH1 working

My proof of concept for a battery grip for my Panasonic GH-1 is working.
After a first failed attempt (because red and black wires inside the grip I modified where switched)
I managed to get the Canon 450D -grip working with my GH1 using the default battery-dummy they ship with the camera.
(Optional for the GH2)

I'll take this prototype to CCCamp and start working on the higher level features
like getting the shutter-button to work after the camp.
Then I'll try to write it down as a howto and probably release a video about it too.


getting my sound equipment organised

Preparations for CCCamp are still going on.
I just created myself 2 additional cases like the one I use for my camera equipment but for all the sound-stuff that has piled up.
I also got myself some Yellow+Green tape to make what cables and equipment is mine and added this unusual color-code to the Hx² wiki -entry about the studio we'll have at the camp.

As I already started by getting my Zoom H4n USB-powered I hope to get a first proof-of-concept for a battery grip for one of my GH1 cameras working.
With some additional SD-cards that should grant me enough recording-time to cover what I want to cover using either multiple camera angles or 3D video. Both with external, high quality sound.


Powering a Zoom H4n via USB

Since the Zoom H4n is providing 48V phantom-power two two microphones at once and 7V plugin-power for a lavalier and for any type of recording I can switch between cameras but need one, single, continuous sound-recording.....
The 2 AAA-batteries in the H4n are always dead.
It does have a 230V power-adapter.
In fact, I have two that fit it.
But that's no good on the road.

For my cell-phone I now have this cheap USB-power-supply that I can recharge at any USB-port (and even hand through that power to the real device to charge that too.
Thus only requiring a single USB-port).
As the H4n also runs on 5V, I tried to solder myself a USB-to-H4n adapter and it actually worked!
(GND on the outside, +5V on the center contact)

The nice thing is that the H4n automatically switches between it's batteries and external power.
So now I can even attach USB-power, switch the batteries while drawing USB-power and then run on the fresh batteries when USB-power dies too.


taking apart a camera

First tests to build a battery-grip for my GH1 camera by modifying a Chinese battery Grip for the Canon 450D. (Nearly the same size.)
However some Chinese thought it would be funny to *reverse the meaning of red and black wires*.
So I ended up frying my expensive camera.

...Took me ages and multiple failed attempts but I was able to find the fried sub-micron diode.
Tried to source a replacement diode.
...it turned out that a regular SMD- diode is still 5 times bigger then the one they used and does not fit mechanically.
Placed a 0,8mm wire over this 0.2mm diode. (Sorry, I can't cut shorter wires without a microscope.)

for (int i=0; i<7; i++) {
Put everything back together, black screen.
Took it apart, found a missing connector.
(dozens of them, all sub-millimeter mylar types.)
It switches on but I can't shoot pictures. Remote-trigger works.
Took it apart.....
Camera is working again.

It really hurts to touch the high-voltage part that powers the flash.


Good News and Bad News

I've some good news and some bad news....

the good news is:
My new threaded rods to upgrade my Repman arrived.
(And some 15mm aluminum pipes to replace the heavy
steel-pipes in my shoulder-rig.)

The bad news:
My long awaited ABS from china also arrived.
The surface is marred, it's brittle and there
are 0.5mm air bubbles inside the filament.
I have no hope that one can use this for 3d printing at all.
And I got the minimum of 20Kg of this junk.

The company is:

Qingdao TSD Plastic Co.,Ltd.
Add.:No.48, Ruijin Road, Qingdao, China.
Website: www.qdtsd.net
MSN: hongyong_zhang@live.cn
Free Line: (86)400-688-0532
Office Line:(86)532-81936899
Mobile No.:(86)158-54279111

I found a wiki-page about this to compare noted on different companies.

3d printed camera belt clip

Like I planned before I jsut designed myself a belt-clip for a camera.

I was impressed with my B-Grip. However it would not accept my Manfrotto quick-release plates that I have on all cameras and tripods,... .
So I designed this one, based on the existing camera-plate of my 3d printed shoulder rig.
I guess it will be hard to print due to it's size and the large overhang.
I hope to include a pause G-Code in the overhang to insert the actual belt as a support.
That should make it 3d printable.

We'll have to see.

This time I not only did a colored rendering and technical drawing with dimensions and a 3d PDF with the movable model and the drawings but also included the thingiverse-URL to the part into the PDF.