clickPanPro refined: path A

Getting more out of clickPanPro

The first version of the controller offered only 3 steps from H to N. A comment from Tris Mason in NZ prompted me to ask if 4 steps were possible. The advantage of the 4 step path would be that a narrower lens could be used to get better resolution cover.

Working with Gentles Limited a number of options are being tested to see if a 4 step path could be worked into the sequences. In testing I found the 4 important variables are:

  1. AF/AE: the Auto response of the camera needs more time as the camera swings across the horizon. There is a bias to the ground exposure which can take a while to adjust to the sudden brightness of horizon shots.
  2. FOV: the width of the field of view according to lens
  3. Aspect: changing to portrait or landscape camera orientation changes the overlap pattern
  4. Speed: The speed needed to keep a constant exposure for a full circle panorama from horizon to horizon.

The new paths

Paths for the minimum number of shots to cover the maximum area for 3 lens types are under test.

V2 path table_01where H is an horizon shot and N is a nadir shot.

The 4 step ( path H)  gives a spread pattern like so:

Auto spread_01Exposure for nadir is consistently the most reliable so the option to drop a nadir shot at the end of the path and adding extra horizon shot to the sequence speeds the path and improves the cover.

Path G looks like this:

G path test strip_01About the cameras

The cameras used are: Nikon D5100 and Canon Eos M .

D5100: I have given up trying to use the D5100 with live view relay as the LV autofocus is too unreliable. For these tests it’s in ‘P’ with the ISO set high ( 800) shutter release is by   GentLed type 21IR remote . Despite being one of the lightest DSLRs bodies available it’s still a heavy beast with the glass on. On the rig it weighs 1.2kg with the lightest AF lens available for it (35mm AF G S). For the very wide work a fixed focus Nikkor 10.5mm G fisheye brings the weight up to 1.3Kg. The AF/AE is nice and fast at around .5 s per shot with a shot to shot (recording both Jpeg ‘fine’ and Raw) of around 1s.

Eos M: by using an adaptor I have 2 lens options; the stock 22mm pancake and with a 0.75x adaptor (52 mm and 28mm equivalent respectively) fortunately the EosM is tripped by the same type 21 GentLed as the Nikon so swapping cameras in the rig is a simple case of simply re-routing the IR wire from a left to right Velcro patch. The big problem with this camera is the AF/AE failure rate. Even with the (much improved) 2.02 firmware it can fail to shoot horizon shots from the moving rig. The Eos M on the rig weighs in at 800g and with the 0.75x adaptor 1kg

Neither camera uses image stabilisation and so far I have not added a gyro servo to the rig.


I have a personal set of rules for KAP image quality and the paths need to give me a reasonable stab at meeting them. It is not enough just to ‘get pictures’ I consider my KAP  must follow these 10 commandments:

The idea of the camera path is to try and get enough automatic coverage to allow me to choose, from a predictable spatter, the images which meet the commandments. By its very nature AutoKAP breaks the 3rd commandment a lot of the time, the rest is up to me, the wind and the weather.

Path A with standard lens (The wind felt a bit patchy so I kept the weight down)  I was going for speed by opting for a 3 step path: the flight was 1 hour 20 mins and 840 frames were captured.  I was in a very crowded place and the ‘fly and forget’ benefit of autoKAP was a boon, the rig rose and fell in the wind and I was able to keep the line well clear of the bustle. Eos M 22mm panckae, ITW 9′ Levitataion :

Path A SpreadSelected frames:

Boomtown Eind chart

The wind was something of a handful: lulls of 4 mph and gusts of 15 or so. The Levitation handled it all well despite some terrifying slack line moments. Given I was working in a crowd scene a few folk wanted to know what I was doing and the inevitable questions popped up:

  • how high will it go?
  • why don’t you use a drone?
  • is that a GoPro?

which I answered as civilly as I could:

  • as long as the string
  • not safe or legal with all these people around
  • no, (grit teeth) it’s a proper camera

The next sequence is A with the wide angle adaptor on the Eos M…then B, C & D with the fish eye, E & F with a portrait aspect and then slower G & H 4 step paths. It would be nice to do them in order but it’s unlikely as I will be flying as the weather allows. Until they are flown it’s very difficult to know if they are effective. It’s one thing to get the rig moving quite another to prove the photo-cover is effective as both panoramic components and individual frames. I have taken the FOV as the governing factor but there is also scope for flying height and pan sweep to be considered.

The beauty of clickPan Pro is its simplicity: the paths are selected by dipswitch and the speed by a knob.  Working with Gentles Limited to refine the paths is fun indeed!


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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25 Responses to clickPanPro refined: path A

  1. Ramon says:

    I can live with all commandments, especially the Xth… :0)

    • The 1st commandment is a tough one a lot of the time but the10th is a really difficlut one: you don’t seem to get too far off the ground to find the resolution start to fail…I’d love to find a nice light medium format camera….maybe the Cybershot RX1 is the way?

  2. Ramon says:

    OK, how many cameras do you have that are KAP worthy, Bill? I know the RX1 is a nice cam with a resolution of 24MP and a full frame sensor, but the price is way to high. For me, that is. I still have at least 3 Lumix cams that are doing just fine.

    But let’s be reasonable. If one (e.g. you) can afford such a gem, why not use it for KAP..?

    • I’m using the Leica X1 for directed camera work and the Eos M for AutoKAP. The D5100 is an option I try out from time to time. I have a shelf of various minature compacts but they just don’t have the resolution for aerial work. It’s going to be a while before I have the tokens for the RX1 but they will get cheaper in time…

  3. Ramon says:

    It sure is a great box…

    Yesterday my cPP arrived. Works like a treat. Need to put it in a little box and hope to fly it during the weekend with my Panasonic GF2 which has only flown twice…

  4. Ramon says:

    Hi Bill,

    In the video of the CPP in action I see your rig is panning clockwise. Mine however is panning counter clockwise, although the PAN serve is set for going clockwise when AuRiCo is in charge of the servos.

    Did you re-allign you PAN servo or did it work like that right away?



  5. Ramon says:

    OK, Bill, thanks. I have a Parallax in stock too, so will test with that one to see if it behaves any different. I also discovered that when using 3 tilt positions the 2nd horizontal position is skipped. The pan servo makes its move and so does the tilt servo, although it should stay in the horizontal position. I already sent Peter an e-mail on this.

    I wonder if this can somehow be corrected in adjustment mode. I’m not yet sure how to use that mode anyway.

    Another question: what happens if you switch to the NO TILT mode? does your tilt servo move to the horizontal position for the camera?

    • Ramon,

      As supplied to you have a ‘Mk1’ configuration. I found the missing horizon shots a pain too! In the default ‘W’ sweep the middle steps mean a missing horizon shot. Gentles Ltd have re-programmed one for me to fix this.

      The ‘no tilt’ option just kills the tilt servo so it’s a fixed tilt rig.

      It was suggested I could swap the ‘no tilt’ option for a 4 step tilt and I now have one set up that way. I hope that soon I’ll be able to test all the options and suggest to Gentles Ltd. they offer them as a ‘Mk2’. The testing takes time and I’m keen to get the best spread possible for the revision.

      I have taken into consideration portrait aspect and fish eye cover too. I have now modded my AutoKAP rig to be swappable for portrait/landscape to test this.

      For panoramic cover I have found the speed of the whole circle to be important as the rig position rises and falls so a mix of ‘deep overlap’ and ‘minimum step’ options are desirable.

      Another thing I want to explore in the future is a ‘limited pan’ option ( say 180 deg) so that you could ‘soak’ a view in one direction only if you needed to. You would need to set the start point carefully (and be able to re-set it if you needed to) and I’m not sure if this is possible yet.

      Anyhow an updated version will be available soon- once Gentles Ltd are happy we have the best compromise – all you’d need to do is post the cPP back and it would be re-programmed with the ‘Mk2’ paths by return.

      Testing is taking a while (I’m just back from hols) as I’ll need to loft my D5100 to work through all the options…


      • Ramon says:

        Ouch, bit of a bad one there. So it was a known issue. In my opinion the shipped cP-P’s should have been re-programmed before they left the works. I very much interested in a MK II version as this seems to serve my ‘needs’ better. Just like the AuRiCo.

        I dig your ‘selective PAN’ or ‘limited PAN’ idea. I’ve been looking for this for quite a while and at first I thought the cP-P was doing this. But I misinterpreted the manual. My bad…

        Looking forward to learn about your further findings. All this stuff keeps us off the street :0)


      • It’s not so bad. the cPP is programmable by Gentles Ltd. They supplied it with a generic set of settings to begin with and now they are responding to my feedback: that’s a good thing and they are quick with it too. You will get yours re-programmed in a flash once they are happy the new paths are optimum.

        They don’t want to re-program a zillion different units a zillion different ways so I’m flying the paths to see what sort of cover I get to make sure the Mk2 is as useful as possible. Fun indeed!

        I have just found out the selective pan idea won’t work with cPP: it’s set up for a 360 servo which would ‘drift’ trying to find the start and end points of travel. The good news is Gentles are keen to make a 180 pan version for a ‘standard’ servo once they have the Mk2 cPP done.

        So far we have got 4 step tilt and a beefed up horizon shot sequence done and dusted. The last thing to test are the ‘fish eye’ paths- to see if the tilt step impacts on exposure between horizon and ground.

        I should get some time in this week.


  6. z1ggur4t says:

    Chaps… am in possession of, shall we call it a Mk 1 cPP. didn’t manage to get it running this weekend, life getting in the way and all but i’m on it for this one coming. I’m already asking Peter (KAP shop) if i can purchase a Mk 2 ASAP. am thinking i’ll keep the Mk 1 as is and just grab a new version as soon as it is available. things take time to make it to this far flung part of the globe so i’m going to stock up. it says in the docs you must have a continuous (360) pan servo so that may account for the behaviour Ramon. am keen as mustard to compare the patterns of the cPP to the AuRiCo. i’m guessing that the case supplied is manufactured by a low cost 3d printer. it has all the tell tale signs. very cool of so and great to see a real world, if small commercial use for such things. am hoping to have something concrete to offer soon. as always Bill a useful post and resulting thread. T,

    • Hi Tris, glad you got your unit at last! Looking forward to seeing some of your shots from the cPP autoKAP. The Mk2 paths are close to tested now. I’m struggling a bit with the fisheye paths- (ironically compared to the GoPro) my fisheye set up is heavy at 1.4kg so I have to wait for the wind.

      The 3d printed ‘case’ is handy for fixing to the rig but I’d be happier with a full enclosure…to take the transit knocks and keep the muck out!

  7. Ramon says:

    Mk II are on their way to the ‘dealer’, so it won’t take long to have my Mk I swapped.

    I did some melting and filing on a 50 cents (€) enclosure for the cP-P. This is what it looks like:

    Click-PAN Pro enclosure

    For your inspiration, gentlemen…

  8. z1ggur4t says:

    Well a less than inspiring interaction with the standard version of the cPP. The skipping shots is a less than desirable “feature”. I have found it harder to work with and setup that the AuRiCo although its movement along it’s paths is smoother and more economical. The tilt settings are less flexible (i’m expecting v2 to have this issue addressed) and the travel along the tilt axis isn’t as long. I haven’t played with the adjustment settings as yet but i’ll wait until I get the next version before any further time is expended.

    • Yes the Mk1 path set is somewhat lacking. Fortunately Gentles are quick to respond with Mk2 paths. Less quick is the testing as I believe until this thing is flown we don’t really know how well it works. So far I have flown 3 beta versions of the Mk 2 each better than the last.. Mk 2 will give you 4 tilt steps (H, T1, T2, N) and a good spread of paths to suit wide angle, fish eye and portrait aspects.

      Sadly we are paying the price of the ‘early adopter’ here: .what is gained in one area (speed control) is ‘work in progress’ (path pattern) in another!

      I know Ramon has a Mk2 now so I hope he will verify the paths I have suggested to Gentles and we can move forward..

      The tilt limit is weird. I used a ‘more tilt’ device to get the full swing. I know this varies from servo to servo.

      As an aside I have just set up a cP-P on a fixed tilt rig as it’s MUCH faster than the old Clickpan ‘bean’; I can’t wait to see how it flies! …


    • z1ggur4t says:

      I won’t be spending anymore more money or wasting any more time with this product version 2 or not. the one I have is useless and shouldn’t have been sold to anyone, period. I’ll only be burnt once. I know all about being an early adoptor it’s in my line of business but what I have is more an Alpha version, not even Beta.

      • Tris,

        That’s unfortunate. I’m quite sure Gentles Ltd would replace your unit. So far I’m getting better and better results with it, but it’s taken a while to get the best out of it. Like you I was disappointed at how crude the Mk1 paths were but the potential was there and now it’s realised. Far from being ‘burnt’ you are being supplied by a specialist firm with specialist kit. I’d agree with you if this was a more generic device. It isn’t.

        What would you rather have a lump of useless plastic or something that works? I wouldn’t write it off if I were you-a bit of patience wouldn’t do any harm would it?

        Let see if Gentles can help.

        I’m copying this to James and I’m sure you will get the support you need.


  9. Ramon says:

    Like I already commented on Flickr, I am a happy user of the tilt sequence that does 4 tilts and keeps its tilt when the pan servo is activated. I haven’t tested other settings thoroughly but they do work.

    I only need to find a mechanical solution for no-tilt with the tilt servo disconnected – the camera is too heavy for the servo to stay in one position. I think some slick rubber bands will do the job. How did you do it, Bill?

    I did this pano last Saturday: 2 pans, 3 tilts makes 6 pics.

    Will a bit of luck there will be some KAP ahead this weekend.


  10. Ramon says:

    That was indeed a possibility that crossed my mind, but I’m using a locknut to make sure nothing will be lost due to a mechanical mishap. I could bring a spanner with me to tighten it for the time needed, though.

    2 Seconds isn’t bad at all, Bill.

  11. Anthony Peterson says:

    I’m struggling to get anything out of my clickPAN-Pro. I purchased a Big BEAK from the KAP shop, which arrived last week. There were no instructions, so I downloaded the manaul forom Genlte’s website. Interesting – not very user friendly, but I can work with that. All im getting so far is some vain whiring sound like the motor wants to move but can’t. I’ve set the switches to rotate 90 degrees, but it doesnt. The first time I put battieres in it the thing did a full 360 degrees and then stopped and it hasn’t done anything sice. I suspect that the device took a hit during shipping because the pivacet rig that came with it was bent. The packaging seemed way too flimsy pto offer any protectin in transit. I’m also not entirely sure that I received everything because there was no “list of things that should be in this package”. Several clips and a joiner that supposedly should have come with my kite never arrived ( I know this because the Kite did come with instructions).

    • Hi Anthony, thanks for taking a look!

      1st thing I have to say is: You need to take this up with KAPshop..not me!

      email Peter at:

      2nd thing is, if you are lucky to be local to Cambridge let me know where you are and I may be able to check over your rig and see what’s up.

      3rd thing: sounds like the battery needs charging!

      • OK thanks for you help. I’ve done some more tinkering and Ive got it to work. Looks like I had faulty batteries (I am so relieved). Sorry, I just and a mild panic attack being only a few days out from my week long trek into the Snowy Mountains. I’m so glad its all come together. This means I can do some more flights test today. Yay!

      • Good to hear! Let me know when you have some shots to share..the view from above is there for the taking!


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