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3. Project Summary


Presentation Slide


What Does it Do ?

The original idea was to have a device capable of pointing a camera towards a moving object, similarly to what a Pixio/Pixem or a Soloshot can do. My motivation stems from a desire to film myself practicing some sort of alpine sport outdoors when I am on solo excursions.


A soloshot in its element

As I progressed through the academy, I realised that reaching that end-goal was going to take more time and focus than I had initially anticipated. The complexity in creating a fully contained device with a reliable electro-mechanical system meant that I could only focus on certain aspects. I therefore decided to concentrate on creating a device I would use as a platform to develop the technology required to achieve my initial objective.

My fabacademy project is basically a motor controlled turntable. Because it is motor controlled, by attaching a camera onto its rotating plate, I can control the horizontal orientation of the camera and, theoretically, film a moving object. It basically acts as a pan only camera mount. The device can be operated manually through a phone app developed on the MIT app inventor. Its design is quite modular, allowing for components to be added, removed, or modified quite easily.

Who’s Done what Beforehand ?

In terms of existing products, I mentioned the Soloshot and Pixio. While their designs are proprietary, My global vision was heavily inspired by these products, mainly for their system design.

Soloshot (previous version) in action


Soloshot 3



Oleksandr Romanko designed a Pan mechanism for a similar type of project (see his week09 Assignment show below). While I didn’t use any of his design files, I was influenced by the panning mechanism he developed.

What are the Implications ?

My final project is intended to be used for sports. The products I mentioned earlier are great but expensive. I aim to propose an open-source alternative which can be developed further by its community of users. Ideally, the base station would reach a stage where it offers both panning and tilting in a smaller package. People would then be able to develop accessories designed for specific activities and environments.

What did You Design ?

I developed a fully enclosed device to be used as a camera panning station. I designed the device’s casing, bearing, belt-drive pulleys, and electronics. I also designed an adjustable motor mount for the stepper motor driving the power train. Finally, I designed the PCBs used within.

What parts and systems were made?

  • A power train composed of a belt-drive mechanism driving a thrust bearing.
  • A WiFi based Stepper control mechanism
  • A device capable of GPS relative positionning.

What processes were used?

CNC Milling - For the acrylic components used in the thrust bearing.

Electronics design - For the design of all electronic boards using KiCAD and a Roland SRM20

3D Printing (FDM) - For the core structure, casing housing the electronic components, motor mount and driven pulley.

How was it evaluated ?

Given the time I had, I decided to focus on making the panning mechanism work. At this stage, I am satisfied with the smoothness and low-noise emission of the mechanism. However, the bearing is not reliable as motion is not uniform throughout because the force resisting the movement of the plate increases in certain areas. Furthermore, the wireless control mechanism established is highly reliable, opening the door for the start of the second spiral of development.

What worked ? What didn’t ?

WiFi based Control Thrust Bearing
Electronics Magnetometer
Structural Integrity
Silent Smooth motion

What questions were answered ?

Is the designed thrust bearing mechanism reliable ?

No. Neil also stated during my presentation that I should have gone for an industrial bearing. It was still nice to try though.

Is WiFi the optimal wireless transmission technology for this system ?

Yes. However, I am planning on trying RF transmission and other alternatives in order to get a global idea of the different technologies.

Will GPS tracking be sufficient for precise tracking

No. I already knew this and Neil also pointed it out. Perhaps adding IMU (Accelerometer & Gyroscope) readings to the system, making these the central tracking components, anchored by GPS readings in a dead-reckoning based tracking system. Nevertheless, I’ll stick to GPS for the time being to develop a pointing algorithmic logic.

What materials and components were used? Where did they come from? How much did they cost?

Summarised Table

The above table simply summarises the costs incurred for the completion of this project in its current state. Below are detailed lists of the components used.

Elements Description Total Cost
Components Includes all components purchased from external sources. 97.259€
Electronic & Circuit Components Includes all electronic components obtained form the lab and used for the production of the project’s circuitry 15.552€
Consumables & Materials Includes elements that could be manipulated once, such as 3d printing filaments, milled materials. Proportional to the quantities used. 90.00€
Total Project Cost 202.811€

1. Components

Component Description Manufacturer Usage Cost(unit) Quantity Total Cost
BN 880 GPS & Compass Module Beitian Base station position & orientation detection 34.98€ 1 34.98€
BOB-12009 Bi-Directional Logic Level Converter Sparkfun Logic conversion from BN880 (5V) to EPS32 (3V3) 3.00€ 1 3.00€
NEMA 14 2-Phase Stepper Motor with 200 steps - Motion of rotating plate 14.88€ 1 14.88€
TMC2208 Ultra-quiet two-phase stepper motor drive chip Trinamic / Fystec Silent operation of NEMA14 Motor 4.95€ 1 4.95€
Bearing Balls* (6mm) Stainless steel spheres with a diameter of 6mm Thrust Bearing 8.99€ (200) 186 8.37€
M3 Screw Kit* 280 pieces of M3 screws, nuts and washers - Fastening of components 19.99€ (whole kit) - 19.99€
M3 inserts* 50 units of 5.7mm deep threaded inserts for M3 screws - Fastening of commponents into 3d Printed bodies 9.99€ 50 9.99€
200mm GT2 belt* 6mm wide and 200mm long closed loop rubber belt used for belt-drive mechanism 3Dman Belt-Drive mechanism 10.99€ 1 1.099€
Total Costs 97.259€


* Components bought as part of a kit / bundle

2. Electronic & Circuit Components

as of 09/06/2021 - Prices & Components are subject to change in future iterations

Component Usage Cost (unit) Quantity Total Cost
ESP32-WROOM-32U (16MB) Central Control Unit / WiFi Network Host 3.90€ 1 3.90€
Tactile Switch Reset Button 0.84€ 1 0.84€
Slide Switch Programming Mode Switch 0.84€ 1 0.84€
10kΩ Resistance Pull-Up of ESP32 Reset switch 0.082€ 1 0.082€
Power Jack Connector Connection with external power source - 12V Adapter 0.81€ 1 0.81€
Diode Circuit Protection - 1 -
Voltage Regulator - 5V/1A [SOT223-4] Power management for BN880 module 1.50€ 1 1.50€
Voltage Regulator - 3V3/1A [SOT223-4] Power management for all components 0.59€ 1 0.59€
1uF/50V Capacitor - Unpolarised Current regulation 0.23€ 3 0.69€
47uF Capacitor - Polarised Current Regulation for Motor Driver 0.10€ 1 0.10€
Male Horizontal Conn Header - 10 positions FTDI Interface 1.33€ 6 pos 0.80€*
Female Horizontal Conn Header - 2 Positions Internal Jumper Cable Connections - 6 -
Female Vertical Conn Header - 5 Positions Connectin with BN880, logic converter & TMC2208 0.71 38 pos 5.4€*
Total Costs 15.552€


* Price calculated from number of positions used

3. Consumables & Materials

Consumable Description Manufacturer Usage Cost (units) Quantity Total Cost
XT-CF20 Filament Copolyester filament based on carbon fiber binding material, Composed of 20% carbon fibers. (750g / 1.25mm diameter) ColorFabb 3D Printing of core structure and bottom container 0.67€/g - 49.95€/750g 750g 49.95€
10mm Acrylic Sheet - - Thrust Bearing Components 87.65€ (60mmx100mm) 1x25mmx68mm 40.00€
Copper PCB - - Electronic Circuits
Total Costs 90€5

Last update: July 2, 2021