Docubot Hands-free Camera

Posted by berticus on Wed 28 September 2011



Surely this will be my last poorly documented project: a hands-free foot operated documentation camera. I thought it'd be handy, and I had an old broken desk lamp kicking around, so of course, the two must be mushed together.


I started out with an old Canon SD1000, with CHDK installed of course. For those in the dark, CHDK is an alternate firmware that works on lots of point and shoot cameras (not just Canon, anymore), and it lets you run scripts, save pictures as raw files, and tweak every setting you could ever possibly want to. It's awesome, and I needed it so I could trigger the shutter via an external button (you basically toggle +5v on one of the USB port pins).


I didn't want to worry about running out of batteries mid-shoot, so I printed a dummy battery at Shapeways, ran some wires through it, then tinned and bent over the ends of them to make some pseudo "terminals". These went out a hole I drilled in the battery door, through the lamp, to a simple 5v voltage regulator, wired up straight out of the datasheet. This 5v source also goes through an old lamp foot switch to the camera's USB port, for the external trigger.



Finally, I took to the lathe to make an adapter between the weird lamp thread and standard camera tripod thread (1/4" diameter, 20 threads per inch). I used a bit of round delrin stock, bored out the appropriate diameters, and just cranked a bolt through rather than threading things properly.

I tried a few test shots last night, while I put together Mighty Ohm's Geiger Counter Kit. It works pretty well, but can't really zoom in close enough to document very fine work. Hopefully it will still be useful for documenting other tasks that require both your hands in frame. Failing that, I'm sure there will be other uses for a scriptable camera attached to a flexible-yet-solid base... perhaps it will turn into a time-lapse-bot.

DocuBot Test 1

DocuBot Test 2

DocuBot Test 3