Thread: micro camera - custom grip/rig/breakout uber build

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  1. #1 micro camera - custom grip/rig/breakout uber build 
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    Given all the posts recently on various controllers and so on for the micro I thought I would post an update on where I am at with this

    I started out with the idea of a 'simple' grip that would attach to the camera and allow you to control stuff via sbus by way of some dials and buttons built into the grip - something like the canon XC10
    I few months back I worked out the arduino side of things (see my posts - under my real name Stu Aitken - on the main BM forum thread here: https://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/v...camera#p268158. Also working arduino code posted on github here: https://github.com/boldstelvis/BMC_SBUS)

    Since then I've been working on the hardware side and how I want this to work
    During this period others posted interesting ideas - of particular influence were:

    the cheesycam sony NPF970 battery mod: http://cheesycam.com/custom-mods-for...remote-handle/
    the excellent thread here on the DIY breakout box by theorib which had me majorly rethink my approach: http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.ph...ighlight=bmmcc
    the thread here on rigging the micro like a digital bolex: http://www.bmcuser.com/showthread.ph...ighlight=bmmcc

    so I have rethought out my ideas several times over, got things started in CAD, started looking into what methods are available for one-off manufacture at realistic costs and so on...

    and - well let's say there has been some feature creep

    I'm going to start documenting stuff here as this (quite long) journey may be of interest to others

    to summaries the current design goals:

    • final setup must remain fairly low profile and 'sleek' - I don't want the usual "pile of stuff rigged like awkward mechano" feel - I want to feel as much like an actual designed product as possible
    • battery power needs addressed for higher capacity - after looking at various options using my own design box with 18650 cells I've moved more to using NPF970's as per cheesycam solution (this route still allows me to potentially do my own custom NPF970 shaped box)
    • must be able to mount a smallHD502 with potentially also the side finder as principle screen/EVF in a straightforward and low profile manner
    • must be able to power the 502 from the main battery solution
    • grip placement should be flexible - ie support original 'side grip' style idea but also a 'bolex' style pistol grip placement and potentially be mountable as a top handle as well
    • add some additional breakout connectors somewhere - especially 12V in, but also probably Lanc and TC in (I need that sometimes for certain jobs I will use the camera on)


    significant design considerations resulting from this:

    • a custom cage at the heart of the 'system' seemed to be a necessary stage if I really wanted to have the functionality I wanted and keep it all neat
    • mounting for the 502/sidefinder in various configurations (again mainly to avoid clunky, over-sized or awkward mounting solutions)
    • mounting the grip in multiple places securely and conveniently (again trying to be as treamnlined as possible here)
    • where to put connectors and what kind of connectors to link the electronics inside the grip to the body and also to link the extension DSub to breakout ports
    • what kind of controls to add to the grip, what components can I source, how these are engineered into the design


    A big area I am only really starting to consider currently is what specific materials to use, and likely manufacturing processes that are viable (= don't cost thousands for a one off, that I can project manage myself or even do myself), rugged enough (= won't fall to bits after limited use) and would provide a decent standard of final "finish". solutions for the last point might include:

    • custom CNC milled/lathed aluminium for the cage, proposed monitor mounting solution and some other structural parts
    • polyurethane/silicon molding for things like hand grip, button enclosures and bushings
    • the alternative is 3d printing of course and I have some experience there but finish and durability are both big question marks on the cheaper end of whats available and molding maybe be both cheaper and more suitable


    the hardest thing to design has been the connection points - the micro is so small and dense that almost all the usual suspects for connecting electronics securely (ie lemo, XLR, hirose, etc) and rigging (15m rails, nato rails, dovetails, etc) tend to feel out-sized compared to the camera (if aiming for a clean design) and also the restrictions placed on access by the camera's small compact design are also challenging ( which direction does this connector face, how much does it stick out, etc all become major factors)

    I am still to properly solve a fair few of these issues (the actual grip design which started the whole thing off is still not really started! - what you see below is a stand-in profile only) but have gotten close enough to something I like and that i think works in principle that I thought it was worth showing and maybe garnering some comments

    I've made initial approaches to some local 'maker' community resources for manufacturing help but getting a better idea of costs and feasibility is a priority as well. It's likely that I may have to reign in some of these ideas based on costs

    pics below - hopefully these are fairly self explanatory - please ask any questions if you wanna know more



    uber micro quad_3d.jpg

    uber micro pistol grip.jpg
    uber micro side grip.jpg
    uber micro top handle.jpg

    uber micro exploded 3d.jpg

    uber micro section 2d.jpg
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  2. #2  
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    This is very cool! Let me be the first to give you much encouragement to bring this to fruition!
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  3. #3  
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    My main question is what functions within the menus can be controlled, and with what buttons? Start/stop is all that I see addressed so far.
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  4. #4  
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    Hi OZ

    this is governed by the camera itself

    with SBUS you have access to:

    Rec start/stop
    ISO
    WB
    Shutter Angle
    Focus (lens specific - works with electronic M43 lenses only)
    Zoom (ditto, and only on power zoom lenses)
    Iris
    Mic Gain

    I'm still to finalize the grip design but it will likely have:

    dedicated 'trigger' button for Rec start/stop
    dedicated iso dial on the front top edge (index finger controlled)
    'mode button' on the back (thumb controlled) to flick between WB, ISO and SA
    dial on the back (thumb controlled) to go up or down through available settings on the function selected by the current mode

    at various points I have considered an electronic follow focus function as well - however I'm not convinced this will be super usable in practice. I'll probably try and leave room for that as some sort of add on with an additional mounted HW control that can be added later

    I REALLY hope they give us an expanded take on Sbus control in a future firmware upgrade - ie:

    Codec
    Framerate
    overlay displays on/off
    menu navigation - that way you could potentially replace all the buttons on the camera entirely with a more ergonomic grip solution and not lose any functionality
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  5. #5  
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    This is absolutely amazing. Great work! Designing a handle that will support all 3 configurations and all those functions sounds like quite a challenge. Good luck!
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  6. #6  
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    I'm probably explaining it badly

    this idea is it's just 2 buttons (rec start/stop and mode) and 2 dials only (iris and wb/iso/SA - which one of the latter the dial scrolls through is selected by the mode button)
    one button and dial on the front under the index finger, the other button and dial under the thumb at the rear

    believe me compared to some of my earlier ideas this is actually pretty simple

    think of something like this but simpler

    :ZPR-CANON-XC10-TOP.jpg
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  7. #7  
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    No, that's perfectly clear and exactly what I think it should be! I just didn't see it represented in your first post, but you are clearly thinking about all of the essentials.

    For stability it would be great if can have a shoulder stock added easily, but I'm guessing that this is addressed by the Rosette on the left side of the grip?
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  8. #8  
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    yeah I like the idea of a shoulder stock as well - could use the rosette if in pistol mode or I may add the ability to connect one to the back of the grip itself

    lots of that stuff still to be resolved - I'm taking my time with it
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  9. #9  
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    Oh, and all of this needs to come in at a cost that, when all is said and done, doesn't make someone ask "why shouldn't I just buy the mini 4k?" ; )

    After all, the 502 + bmmcc is already $2200.
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  10. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by _OZ View Post
    Oh, and all of this needs to come in at a cost that, when all is said and done, doesn't make someone ask "why shouldn't I just buy the mini 4k?" ; )

    After all, the 502 + bmmcc is already $2200.
    I am already thinking so last times But don't forget that ursa mini adds a lot more money at end. Batteries, chargers, lenses, Viewfinder. Also it will be bigger anyway. The only alternative that I see at this time is osmo raw. This unit looks a lot better for handheld work than bmmcc. Gimbal, electronic FF, 4k raw, small enough to carry around.

    About the thread
    I like this idea, I would be glad to buy this, but cheaply only.
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