The first use for my remote shutter release was for a motorised turntable to make my photogrammetry experiments a little easier. I was inspired to start this project after reading a couple of blog posts [ 1, 2 ] and it’s proved to be rather easier than I thought.
As described in the blog posts the turntable design is largely based on this Thingiverse model although I used my own simpler Arduino software as it fitted in better with my current workflow.
If you don’t want to read the gory details of building the thing then just scroll to the bottom of this page where there’s a 3D model generated from photos from the turntable. 🙂
The 3D printed mechanical parts were fairly straightforward and it was just a case of downloading the files and printing them.
I modified the big gear ring and the top plate ( not shown ) slightly to make the printing easier.
Stepper Motors and electronics
The stepper motors are the same 28BYJ-48 types as in the Thingiverse design. I bought a pack of 5, complete with driver boards from Amazon. It beats me how they can sell this kit for £16.99 and it also contains some useful jump leads for connecting to your Arduino or Raspberry Pi. ( I think that these stepper types are used absolutely everywhere )
For the Arduino I had a Duemilanove board lying around. It’s a bit old but still perfectly functional. Add a few jump leads, a switch to control the stop/start and we were good to go. ( Not shown here is the mod to the stepper driver board to drive the camera remote )
The software was developed using the standard Arduino IDE for Linux.
Getting everything going was remarkably easy because the Arduino stepper library does most of the hard work. I added a few extra code lines to move the turntable in 10° steps, taking a photo at each point until it had gone through the full 360°. The red push button is used to start and stop the process.
( I found some useful information here about the innards of the stepper motor and its gearing which is necessary to calculate how many steps are needed per revolution. )
- Stepper motor and camera remote driver board
- Arduino Duemilanove
- Stop / start button
- Link to camera remote
The black card on the turntable is to help blend in with the black background in my light tent. Then it was just a case of pressing the button and off it went. I took a total of 180 images – 5 complete revolutions at different heights. Unfortunately I still have to adjust the camera height manually in between each revolution 🙂
Although the first test worked well there are inevitably a few improvements that are needed:
- The turntable parts are designed to snap together which they largely do. However the whole thing would be a bit more robust if they were glued.
- The turntable rotates reasonably smoothly but I think that it would be a lot better with some lubrication. Some silicon grease between the two rubbing surfaces would improve matters.
- An extra operating mode in the software which just rotates the turntable continuously without taking images would be useful to make sure that the object is centred in the viewfinder.
- I need to properly debounce the switches rather than relying on luck and time delays 🙂
- Replace the jumper cables with permanent wire connections.