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Mr.RC-Cam

Next Generation A/P Camera Controller

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I am currently designing the "ultimate" camera shutter controller for my own use. However, it occurred to me that there might be some interest from other A/P'ers. I'll pass some project details by you folks to see what your comments might be. Just keep in mind that I am really designing this to meet my needs, but your suggestions could help make it more universally appealing.

It involves a custom video text overlay board, so it is designed for A/P'ers that are using a wireless video system to frame shots. Something like YB2normal's Digi-Live system would be an ideal setup.

Assuming I can consistently keep at it, expected completion is late summer or early fall. Here are some of features that I expect it to offer:

(1) Display GPS coordinates, including altitude.

(2) Display battery voltage, motor current, RPM.

(3) Display ham or commercial license call sign.

(4) Display camera photo count.

(5) Display Rx signal strength.

(6) Display Rx glitch count.

(7) Control camera shutter servo or direct wired connection.

(8) Store GPS coordinates for each photo.

(9) GPS serial output for APRS applications.

The thing to note is that it is not designed to fully address a UAV/RPV application; there are already other products that do that. This one is optimized for A/P digital camera users.

At this point I have finalized the hardware design (on paper) and completed the PCB artwork. That alone took about 40 manhours, so the project is very time consuming. And I have a long ways to go. If I end up sharing it, the project will NOT be open source. Perhaps, I could offer a PCB/PIC set (or maybe try my hand at producing a somewhat commercialized offering). My attempts at this in the past have been dismal, but that does not seem to stop me. :)

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Mr RC Cam.

Thought I'd get in early. With the development of the MAHI Pal verson, will this new progect support both formats through a bridge or jumper. If Pal if available I would be really interested. Any chance on a camera trigger controlled by GPS waypoint?

Count me in if you release a PCB, PIC or even Kit.

Your MAHI rocks and so will this.

Crash Pilot 1

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If Pal if available I would be really interested.

If I can do that easily then I will. However, I have only had two or three folks take me up on the PAL MAHI re-design, so the motivation factor is not high right now.

Any chance on a camera trigger controlled by GPS waypoint?

I thought about that. To make it work well, the design would need to support waypoint navigation (autopilot). That is not going to be a feature of the design.

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Mr. RC-cam, I am fairly busy building diversity receivers and coming up with a redesign since our receiver manufacturer decided to change case designs on me just when I introduced my new product. But, if you need some help with circuit card work I am fairly proficient at it and I now have a pretty sweet design package to work with at my day job. I am planning on staying a couple evenings to design my new diversity receiver and make the gerber files for it. If you need some help or design verification I am more then happy to chip in.

Good luck,

Matthew Klarich

KlarichElectronics.com

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Mr. RC-cam

Thanks for the reply. I understand that if there is no demand for the Pal system then it does't justify all the hard work and cost. In the worst case I will have to change my system over to NTSC so that it is compatable for these type of projects.(Hope my eyetops read both formats)

From what I remember the MAHI can be converted back to NTSC without too much trouble. I'm still interested.

Crash Pilot 1

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If you need some help or design verification I am more then happy to chip in.

Thanks for the generous offer -- I will keep you in mind. :)

At this point the PC board layout is complete and I will send it off to the fab vendor in a few days. The board is nearly all through-hole construction, but does have a few SMT parts. Total PCB size is 4.65" x 2.4" and fits perfectly in a nice plastic case. The GPS module mounts directly on the board, so the overall size should be about the same as a handheld GPS. I am using a micro sized three axis (5-way) joystick for the menu interface, so it should be fun to use.

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Hi, do you intend to show all of those things at the same time ?

Terry

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I have not decided on a display format, but as much as possible will be shown. Each text field will be able to be turned off via a configuration menu. The entire overlay can be turned on/off via a spare Tx channel. At least that is what I have planned.

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Mr RC-Cam,

If and when there is a PAL version, count me in!

Hans Delemarre, the Netherlands

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Yep, it sounds like something I would be interested in. Im in so far. Is there any way that you could arrow or something to indicate the direction to the next way point ?

Terry

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I don't plan on supporting waypoints at all. But I will see what I can do about the arrowhead. Just keep in mind that I am not building a UAV/RPV/FPV controller, so that app is not really targeted by the design.

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I am still planning on making one for FPV/RPV flying later this summer. I am too busy redesigning current products to design or support an overlay right now.

Matt Klarich

PS. Mine is not based on stv chip, as you know it is at EOL unfortunately...

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Mine is not based on stv chip, as you know it is at EOL unfortunately...

It appears to be the phoenix of the IC industry. It went End of Life about three years ago. Under customer pressure (and not advertised by STM), it went back into production and is currently mfg'd. I understand it is marked EOL for 2005 (they are probably serious this time). But, there are several hundred thousand chips in broker inventories. I currently have plenty on hand for my project.

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Mr. RC-Cam.

Count me in if you release a PCB, PIC or even Kit.

Best OX3HI - Greenland

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I understand that it is an AP project but as you plan to put GPS on screen I asume to guide you to targets or home then I would find an arrow easier to follow.

Terry

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... but as you plan to put GPS on screen I asume to guide you to targets or home ...

In general, A/P'ers do not fly beyond visual. So, the GPS is not needed for navigation. In my application, the intention of the GPS coordinates is to create a history of where each photo was taken. The coordinates will be saved, along with the snapshot number, in memory (E2Prom). A menu system will have a feature to show the saved photo coordinates on the video monitor for later review.

I will try to add the navigation arrow. But, the embedded GPS module I am using does not support waypoints. So, I would have to emulate waypoints on my host controller (not as trivial as it sounds). My goal is to complete the project in 200 man hours, which is already sounding optimisitic. All the ideas gathered here are appreciated and I will accomodate those that I can in the initial design.

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I will try to add the navigation arrow.

It will be great if you can draw the arrow. And I agree getting your host controller to calculate waypoint direction is not trivial.

How do you plan to draw the arrow? Do you use PIC approach or STM card?

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The OSD video will be from a custom STV5730A based board. This chip does not have real graphics capabilities, so drawing an arrow would need to be done with the ASCII text and/or the short list of ROM supplied graphic characters.

Frankly, it would look crude. I have no idea if the final result would be acceptable to the masses. However, the direction arrow feature is not high on my list at this point, so I do not know (yet) how I would actually implement it if I got that far. If anyone has examples of screenshots that show a compass direction arrow, in action, on a device that uses the STV5730A, then I would enjoy taking a look at their screen's layout.

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Speaking for myself, I was just looking for a single character arrow like a play on a tape recorder to give left, right or ahead indications.

Terry

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That would solve the arrow's graphics issue, but would only have 90 degree step resolution. I'm not sure if that would have much appeal to others since the indicator could be off-target by up to a 45 degree margin. Wouldn't that be an issue?

If anyone knows of public domain embedded C code that can emulate a single waypoint, and give waypoint heading info in degrees, then I'm all ears.

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45 degree arrow is still better than nothing. But you are right, the arrow is more important to FPV navigation rather than AP. I have working C code for Lat/Lon coordinate parsing from NMEA string. But calculation piece for the way-point navigation angles remains to be written, which I plan to do. Drop me PM if you are interested to share the code or split the work on UAV/FPV controller. My only requirement is that development will be done in C - I am too old to read assembly ;)

Edited by cyber-flyer

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I use C too, so that is part is covered. I won't need the parsing routines; perhaps if I stall long enough you will have the waypoint bearing routines written and tested long before I need them. :)

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Yep 45 deg is a big margin, could you make the ahead arrow only read maybe 10 deg and the rest show left or right ? Maybe even show 2 arrows like a fast forward icon when your 30 deg off target.

Terry

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could you make the ahead arrow only read maybe 10 deg and the rest show left or right ?

The video IC's graphic character set includes four arrows: left, right, up, and down. They cannot be manipulated to represent other angles.

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I think you misunderstand me.

^ means target within 10deg of strait ahead

> means target between 10 and 30deg to the right

>> means target greater than 30deg to the right

<< means target greater than 30deg to the left

< means target between 10 and 30deg to the left

Terry

Edited by Terry

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