As many of you have already discovered with a peek into my website, I love photography and especially 360° panoramas. Lately I've dived into the fascinating world of Gigapixel photography. So I bought a motorized tripod head and I've made some Gigapixel tests.
Although they're not huge (if you want to see a huge beautiful panorama give a look to Cannes 65 Gigapixel) they give you an idea of the power of the technique.
I then decided to build my own motorized panohead. This is a project I've had for last 3 or 4 years, and I always lacked of time. First idea was to use two step motors and a pic board as Arduino, to obtain a real versatile robot which would have make everybody green with envy ;-) as this one of Phil Warner which I've always admired.
Unfortunately (maybe not?) my project is changed a little, and I chose to design the simplest and cheapest motorized gear for panoramic photography.

Step 1: Overview

The circumstance which is behind the projects is that the nice tripod head I already had allows to rotate around the vertical axes, and the knobs for horizontal rotation and other directions movements are independent. So I could loose (indeed I removed it) the little knob which locked the rotation, and I've discovered that the friction of the head is perfect to avoid unwanted movements.
Then I searched a way to make the head move at little steps, and meanwhile make a switch closing the contact of the shutter mechanism of the camera. One of the objectives was making something very small and light which doesn't need to modify substantially the tripod, and which could be removed if needed. So this project was born. Read next steps to know how I solved the various quests.
Great work! I'm so happy to see what someone can do with hand tools and patience to create precise components. I get so tired of the simplest projects here on Instructables that "require" a laser cutter. Great use of recycled parts. Your photo of the Basilica of St. Lawrence on page 18 is amazing. Too bad a structure this old is marred by graffiti. I like the "half man" walking his dog!
Thanks! Anyway I hope that laser cutters will be more popular in near future, they're very useful in my opinion. I'm planning to build one, to cut styrofoam and use it to make molds, that would help me to make gears like these.
excellent work. I guess focus and lightening are preset!
yes I usually prefere that, despite the software is able to adjust exposition of any image. <br>Focus is locked to avoid problems with trees and other, but using a long lens maybe somethimes is better leave it auto, because distance from the object could change considerably (a good idea is to keep a very close aperture).
Fascinating, but so many questions. <br>Panning I understand but how did you do the zoom focus? <br> <br>Thank you. <br>Ralph
Hi, I only upload the high res image on server which then takes care to subdivide the image in many tiles of various resolutions. These tiles are loaded one at a time when you look and zoom the image.
What a cool idea! I have to try this :) Ever thought about panning in a vertical axis, too? I have a time lapse rig, now I have to make this one to go with it. Great instructable!
Hi, thanks. Since there are not many rows usually in a panorama, at least not as much as the number of columns, I decided to semplify the gear at most. Anyway yes, it should be nice have that feature too.
Hi, just as beautiful to watch it working as its design. Congratulations on your fine use of existing materials. Look forward to moding my benbo!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an Italian freelance structural engineer, graphic designer and photographer. I'm also investigating electronics, robotics and science in general. I enjoy hacking and ... More »
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