Tim’s ‘fly & forget’ rig

After a lot of trial and error with a direct to servo mounting I opted for the Brooks method of pan drive for 3 reasons:

  • compact design- the offset allows the pan servo to sit behind the camera
  • landscape aspect puts far too much lever on the mounting point
  • security- this rig will take the hefty Eos M when required, hanging that off the servo is nuts.

So in essence I have built a replica Brooks rig. In order to accommodate a USB shutter release a fair amount of space is needed on the tilt frame. Still short of a few zip ties here it is:

Tims rig Top view1 Tims rig Front view1

Top bearing on pan axle. Probably the most difficult part to make was the top bearing for the axle. I used 2 pieces of L section riveted back to back to get the ‘Z’ profile required. Putting it all together reminded me of just how good the Brooxes designs are: the pan gear is a pain to set up.

Fitting the drive gear. This proved to be more awkward than expected too: the KAPshop gear set provides a 30 tooth gear but it won’t fit on the servo spindle. I wrecked one trying to drill out a bigger hole. The solution is to use a countersink to cut away about half the hole depth, the M3 screw then forces the fit allowing the plastic to bite the splines nicely.

In comparison to the portrait version this thing is fragile: put it down and it’s resting on the pan servo gear.

Tims rig Front view2

As soon as I was satisfied all was tight I flew it under the Explorer 2.7 which proved to be the wrong kite for the wind…

Tims rig aloft

After 10 minutes over the common and I’d had enough of the cold, the line was razor tight, the rig bouncing about like a pea on a drum skin…


…200 shots (of which a decent handful are sharp) in poor light proves the rig is a working tool now.

…and it takes the Eos M nicely:

Tims rig Eos M Front view1

The top frame is 30mm wide 2mm thick aluminium strip, the tilt frame is lighter 27mm x 1.5mm strip.  Power is an ‘Inov8’ lithium 3.7v 600mA cell, servo control by Gentles clickPan Pro. The 360 pan servo is a hacked Towerpro MG995. Suspension is by pendulum. The rig, less camera, weighs in at 180g , no feather weight but hopefully up to a life in archaeology.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Tim shoots with it..I think I’ll have to build one for myself now!


About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
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4 Responses to Tim’s ‘fly & forget’ rig

  1. Simon says:

    Thanks for great info and shots, you probably have mentioned it, but what is the Canon model used please? Also am I right in thinking there is a USB cable used for firing, where is this activated from?

    • This rig was built for the Canon Powershot S95. It will also take the S100 and the bigger EosM.

      There are 3 methods of shutter release possible:

      1.Firmware by CHDK script inervalometer
      2.On the EosM a GentLED remote synchronised by the shutter chanel on clickPan Pro.
      3.USB remote via CHDK on the S95/100 remote synchronised by the shutter channel on clickPan Pro (which I have not got figured out yet but the rig has space for the custom cable needed).

      More on CHDK control of the USB remote here:http://scruss.com/blog/2012/03/20/a-very-quick-guide-to-using-a-remote-release-with-chdk/

      The startup sequence is:

      1. Boot camera with USB cable plugged in but not powered
      2. Press shutter button to enter shooting mode
      3. Start CHDK (using the indicated ALT button)
      4. Start ‘remote button’ script by half pressing the shutter. Script should briefly report ‘STARTED’
      5. Power up cable and the shutter will be triggered by clickPanPro

      The custom USB cable is supplied by Gentles Ltd: http://www.gentles.ltd.uk/gentwire/usb.htm

  2. Pingback: Printer cartridge pan gear | Billboyheritagesurvey's Blog

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