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Old September 19th, 2014, 10:55 AM   #1
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Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Hi all, can anyone advise on how one might reprogram a video camera so that the photo button (on the top by the zoom rocker) would become the pause/rec button and the regular right hand pause/rec button would be disabled?

Here is the situation, in brief. The camera is the Panasonic AG-AC8. Perfect for my needs (and I need 6 of them) except for one tragic flaw... the right hand pause/rec button is built onto the same PCB as the gyro sensor, so that, when you press pause, or record, the entire image shakes (and the pausing shake gets recorded at the end of every shot). This happens on all units and the Panasonic engineers admit to the problem. This will not work with my particular workflow, so I am trying to find a solution. I've dismantled the unit and there does not appear to be a simple way to physically solve the problem, so, I'm wondering if one of you super-geniuses can help advise me on how to reprogram the camera's firmware or software.

Thanks for your help (no snarky advice please),
Chris
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Old September 19th, 2014, 11:36 AM   #2
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

A PARTIAL solution(?) for your issue:

Is there a battery powered remote for that model camera? If so, would that work in lieu of a very complicated (and possibly impossible) remapping you suggest?
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Old September 19th, 2014, 11:49 AM   #3
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Brilliant suggestion, Shaun!
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Old September 19th, 2014, 03:31 PM   #4
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Great thought Shaun but there is no remote controller (wireless or wired) for this unit.
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Old September 19th, 2014, 03:43 PM   #5
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the pause/rec button at its core is a simple Momentary Switch. It seems to me if you were brave, you could cut the leads to the switch, solder on your own wire, and add your own Momentary Switch that is separated from the camera body
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Old September 19th, 2014, 04:11 PM   #6
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Thanks Vince, but I'm not quite that brave, yet. Its all ribbon cables, I suppose I could have my local electronics guy solder it.
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Old September 19th, 2014, 04:42 PM   #7
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

I'm not an expert on this (or in fact any other) camera, but based on having been in the computer biz for 55 years I wouldn't even think of going near a reprogramming effort. I think you'd need to have access to whatever development environment Panny uses as well as access to all their code libraries.

Mechanical intervention has the best chance of working IMHO.

And even that probably won't work if, as you say, they trigger multiple actions from a single button push.

I'd be looking for a different camera.
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Old September 19th, 2014, 06:05 PM   #8
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Hi Chris.

I hope this doesn't get filed in the "snarky advice" cabinet, but hey.

I'm puzzled about why, if there is a demonstrable intrinsic design flaw in a product which renders said product as not fit for (your) purpose, and this flaw has been acknowledged by the manufacturer thus putting the onus on them to fix said flaw, anyone would purchase 6 of said product (at some considerable cost) and modify each to (maybe) bodge around said flaw, rendering any warranty void in the process?

I have to side with Jim, hit the "zoom out" rocker and find another product or wait for the "MK II Flaw Fixed" model.


CS
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Old September 20th, 2014, 03:50 AM   #9
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Ok, just spit ballin' here, but I'll take a swing or two...

First, the "fix it in post" approach - presuming that the gyro disruption is only a few frames (and I would expect the gyros to be sensitive enough that "remapping" the switch won't cure your problem - there will still be some motion transmitted from ANY camera contact, wherever your button is...)...

Start recording a bit ahead of your expected clip to allow the gyros to settle, then let the camera run a few second past the "end" of the clip - trim the "dirty" frames in post...

Second, is there a LANC port (not too likely if no IR remote, but... have to ask)? A remote trigger is most preferable to remove any mechanical "noise" being introduced by triggering any action.

Third, it's very unlikely you would be able to remap the controls in software, as each is dedicated to a specific task, BUT as has been suggested, it "might" be possible to mechanically rewire so that the photo button (probably a two stage micro leaf type switch?) acts as a secondary switch to the REC button (single stage leaf switch?). Without seeing the parts, not sure how easy or difficult this tack might be - could be very easy, or a nightmare...


Again, some ideas just off the top of my head, as a regular "tinkerer/hacker" who doesn't believe things always have to function just as designed! There's my three "strikes", not sure if I'm out or can take my base....
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Old September 20th, 2014, 07:13 AM   #10
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

I downloaded and read the owners manual for the camera and it looks like your only option is a mechanical/electrical hack.
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Old September 20th, 2014, 07:42 AM   #11
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Re: Reprogramming or re-engineering a camera?

Thanks to all for the continued comments:

Jim & Chris Ė I think you may be right that the reprogramming isnít going to happen. The ribbon cables used in the camera appear to be fairly generic, so I can try to make the mods on spares. Iíve been looking at, and using, different cameras for a long long time. I have somewhat particular needs for my cameras, primarily that they must be shoulder mounted, light, and have outstanding image stabilization. There are very few to choose from (certainly at this price range). Iím hoping to find a way to make this one work.

Dave Ė The Ďpostí approach is cumbersome for me because of our workflow - about 1000 shots per day in productions that are mainly edited in the can. Having to trim that many shots each day would put me out of business. I am seeking for a way to batch-trim the last 15 frames off of all shots at once. That would work for me. No LANC port. Again, I may try the rewiring with extra ribbon cables and hope for the best.
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