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Old April 21st, 2012, 11:01 AM   #1
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My experimental autoleveler

I have designed and built a couple of auto-leveling devices recently.
In this video I am testing its limits.
Leveleer-demo-dual-5DM2 - YouTube

The dual Canon 5Ds can produce some pretty cool 3D pictures and videos.

Frank

Last edited by Frank Stearns; April 21st, 2012 at 04:56 PM.
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Old April 22nd, 2012, 01:36 AM   #2
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Hi, Frank.............

Interesting device, you're a good man to have available with your electronics and servo knowledge.

Quite why you feel the need for an electronic auto leveller, impressive as it is, has me a bit stumped, when a classic, steam age half bowl/ ball video head allows you to do that with the twist of a knob in seconds, using a good, old fashioned, bubble level.

If you're interested in possible REAL challenges down the line, shoot me a mail, I see you don't have a mail address posted.

You might want to work on compressing that video a tad BTW, it takes longer to download than the Queen Mary (I refer to the ship).

Thanks for sharing.


CS
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Old April 22nd, 2012, 08:24 AM   #3
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Hi Chris,
I appreciate your comments very much.
Thank you.

"A classic, steam age half bowl/ ball video head allows you to do that with the twist of a knob in seconds, using a good, old fashioned, bubble level."


Having done that more times then I care to think about I can understand your comment.
On the other hand, there have been times when I have had great difficulty doing it. Three of the most common reasons were:
1. Could not easily see the bubble while grasping the equipment with one hand and the lock/unlock knob with the other.
2. Could not see the bubble at all since it was above my line of sight.
3. Cold weather which really gives me a problem with it.
Now that I've had some time to experiment with it I've decided to make it a permanent part of my equipment bag.

Frank
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Hi Frank,

Very interesting, very impressive and it looks very well made.

I have experimented with nodal type tripod heads where one aims to align the camera’s center of gravity with the tilt axis thereby eliminating the need for a counterbalance mechanism. The easiest and most compact layout for such a head is to have the camera to one side of the pan axis. In this case it is very important to have the pan axis vertical to stop the camera panning to the lowest point. If the design has very low stiction (static friction) one needs a very sensitive and accurate leveling system to stop this solo panning.

How sensitive can you make your design?
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Old April 24th, 2012, 07:17 AM   #5
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

"I have experimented with nodal type tripod heads where one aims to align the camera’s center of gravity with the tilt axis thereby eliminating the need for a counterbalance mechanism. The easiest and most compact layout for such a head is to have the camera to one side of the pan axis. In this case it is very important to have the pan axis vertical to stop the camera panning to the lowest point. If the design has very low stiction (static friction) one needs a very sensitive and accurate leveling system to stop this solo panning.

How sensitive can you make your design?"

By sensitive I assume you are referring to how accurate it can level.
The answer is that it is in direct proportion to the time and money I put into the effort.

When I was designing it my main concern was rigidity. I considered the leveling to be trivial and it is up to a certain point.

Frank
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Old April 30th, 2012, 08:12 AM   #6
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Are there any tripod heads that can automatically compensate for
variations in mass and center of gravity without requiring
any manual adjustments?

Just wondering....
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Old April 30th, 2012, 06:22 PM   #7
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Hi, Frank............

OK, some hard questions for you (maybe).

Have you had the device peer reviewed by at least one and preferably two knowledgeable operators in the video field?

If so, what was the feedback?

What doesn't it do that you think it should, if anything?

Have you patented it? If not, why not?

What would it cost to produce, if made commercially?

If you know the figure from the previous question, is it a viable product commercially, given the state of play in the support industry as it stands?

Assuming it is a viable product as it stands, do you have a way to interface the unit to a cameras OIS system, assuming that such an interface was to be incorporated into new cameras?

[In case the relevance of that question was a bit hazy, this is only a question of time, but will happen when "main stream" Pro and Semi Pro video heads have gone digital electronic instead of mechanical]

If the answer to the previous question was "no", what would you need to change to allow such an interface and what would be the cost implications?

Can the unit be made any smaller and lighter? Can the run time per charge/ set of batteries be improved by making technical changes to the design?

This list is certainly not exhaustive.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Untill you've found your way through the above maze (and more) and emerged with a real, economically viable product I can park on my tripod and test drive, it's just a (single), one off, fancy toy made by a very clever man, but nothing more.

If you are minded to tackle the maze, or are already in the process of doing so, let me know, I'm certainly going to be listening, as will numerous others.


CS
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Old April 30th, 2012, 06:47 PM   #8
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Hi Chris,
Before I try to answer any of your good questions, let me ask;
Are you referring to the previously mentioned auto-leveler device or the auto balancing pan/tilt head I am starting to work on now?

Thanks,
Frank
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Old April 30th, 2012, 07:45 PM   #9
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

How's about both rolled into one?


CS
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Old May 1st, 2012, 07:14 AM   #10
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Re: My experimental autoleveler

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Hi, Frank............

OK, some hard questions for you (maybe).

Have you had the device peer reviewed by at least one and preferably two knowledgeable operators in the video field?
No since I'm not about to let it out of my hands...

Quote:
What doesn't it do that you think it should, if anything?
It needs to work with heads other then the Manfrotto 701HDV and similiar.

Quote:
Have you patented it? If not, why not?
Only my patent attorney knows for sure.

Quote:
What would it cost to produce, if made commercially?
I know but I'm not saying.

Quote:
If you know the figure from the previous question, is it a viable product commercially, given the state of play in the support industry as it stands?
I doubt it.

Quote:
Assuming it is a viable product as it stands, do you have a way to interface the unit to a cameras OIS system, assuming that such an interface was to be incorporated into new cameras?
Don't know and don't care at this point.

Quote:
Can the unit be made any smaller and lighter? Can the run time per charge/ set of batteries be improved by making technical changes to the design?
I actually have designed a much smaller version but haven't got all the parts to assemble it yet. As far as the run time, I think it's excellent as it is and doesn't require further refinement.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Untill you've found your way through the above maze (and more) and emerged with a real, economically viable product I can park on my tripod and test drive, it's just a (single), one off, fancy toy made by a very clever man, but nothing more.
I actually have more then one but they're not for sale.

Quote:
If you are minded to tackle the maze, or are already in the process of doing so, let me know, I'm certainly going to be listening, as will numerous others.

CS
My device works extremely well with my Manfrotto 701HDV.
I recently obtained a Manfrotto 504HD and am planning on testing it with my leveler.
Unfortunately it seems that all the heads that have a counterbalance feature (including the 504HD) also have a integral bowl mount with non-removable stud.
Because of this I am forced to design a pan/tilt head with counterbalance that will integrate with my leveler. I have initially decided that if I'm going to go to the trouble to do this then I might as well attempt to incorporate a auto-balancing feature into it. I have several ideas how to accomplish this.
I'm optimistic that I can do it even though my ambition might exceed my ability.

P.S. I've been retired for over nine years and I do this for fun.
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