tim savas

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There are a good handful of pan and tilt camera actuators for sale out there. They seem cool but why purchase one when you can spend five consecutive weekends in pure solitude fumbling over machining tolerances and demoting your "nice" jeans with incidental cutting oil while making one just like them on your own?

For real though, I love this project. Pan, tilt, and translation. It's the perfect triumverate. The ultimate ménage à trois. The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit. Snap, Crackle, Pop. Ding, dong, ditch. Beyoncé, Kelly, Michelle.

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Emma brings a handful of upgrades over its predecessor, Tom. Gone are the screw drives, and in their place, faster and more flexible pairs of gears on each stepper motor. The brass worm drive mechanism particularly turns me on. It offers the granularity of a screw drive but in a much smaller housing.

And although Emma implements the same rail and bearings as Tom, its translation system was completely rethought (cue Johny Ive voiceover). Whereas Tom used a static screw drive for travel down the length of the rail, Emma houses a gear rack system tucked under its carriage. Its motor can slide in and out to receive three different pinions for an adjustable travel speed: slow time lapse, fast time lapse, and jog for real-time panning.

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Look at these two lovebirds. Do you see what I've done here? Take a look at how most other pan and tilt hobbyists "designed" their motor housing. I found these other designs bulky and obstructive. Emma is a good example of why I like mechancial engineering. It's like solving a puzzle. How could I make something more compact and clean, and more functional? When I looked at these other pan and tilt systems, I saw a fun opportunity to try to make something better.

So makes this bracket cool? Oh, I don't know, the precision of the worm gears' center distance. The elegant placement of the tilt motor, delicately ensconced beneath the camera stage. The slotted screw head clearances to maximimze the camera's angle of tilt. How long are you here for? I could go on.

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Xy is an open-source project. I know, I'm such a nice guy. Below is a complete bill of materials. All custom components can be milled from 1/2" thick material, or check out the STL folder to 3D print them. CAD models and drawings are to the right. The Github repo is the best place to start.

SW Name Code Description Q QP Cost/Unit Cost Serial Supplier
M-080-160-SKT-H-SS HRD M8 16mm screw 12 1 $7.07 $7.07 91292A145 McMaster Carr
S-000-038-SKT-H-SS HRD #0 3/8" screw 10 1 $6.82 $6.82 92196A057 McMaster Carr
S-006-038-SKT-H-SS HRD #6 3/8" screw 8 1 $2.40 $2.40 92185A147 McMaster Carr
M-030-350-SKT-H-SS HRD M3 35mm screw 2 1 $3.30 $3.30 91292A033 McMaster Carr
M-030-250-SKT-H-SS HRD M3 25mm screw 2 1 $6.40 $6.40 91292A020 McMaster Carr
S-006-058-SKT-H-SS HRD #6 5/8" screw 4 1 $2.98 $2.98 92185A149 McMaster Carr
S-006-025-NUT-SS HRD #6 1/4" nut 8 1 $3.83 $3.83 90730A007 McMaster Carr
S-006-078-SKT-H-SS HRD #6 7/8" screw 4 1 $6.36 $6.36 92196A152 McMaster Carr
M-030-140-SKT-H-SS HRD M3 14mm screw 4 1 $5.52 $5.52 92290A118 McMaster Carr
S-004-025-STF-H-SS HRD #4 1/4" standoff 4 4 $1.82 $7.28 91075A101 McMaster Carr
S-004-038-SKT-H-SS HRD #4 3/8" screw 10 1 $3.98 $3.98 92196A108 McMaster Carr
igus_rail MOT Igus DryLin W1040-A rail 1 1 $88.93 $88.93 W1040-A Amazon
gear_rack MOT 32 pitch, 20˚ gear rack 3 3 $33.73 $101.19 7854K13 McMaster Carr
nema17_motor MOT Nema 17 stepper motor 2 2 $13.99 $27.98 17HS16-2004S Stepper Online
nema23_motor MOT Nema 23 stepper motor 1 1 $16.00 $16.00 23HS22-1504S Stepper Online
pin_hub MOT 1/4" pin clamp 2 2 $7.99 $15.98 545588 McMaster Carr
pin MOT 1/4"x 3" pin 1 1 $4.20 $4.20 6061K411 Servocity
worm_gear MOT 32 pitch, 14.5˚ PA, 50T worm gear 1 1 $38.50 $38.50 G1029 McMaster Carr
worm_drive MOT 32 pitch, 14.5˚PA worm drive 1 1 $23.84 $23.84 LTHB1 Amazon
128T_gear MOT 128T, 32 pitch 1" bore gear 1 1 $16.99 $16.99 615238 Servocity
hub_clamp MOT 1" clamping hub 1 1 $5.99 $5.99 545354 Servocity
flanged_bearing MOT 1" bore flanged bearing 2 2 $6.48 $12.96 535051 Servocity
shaft MOT 1" bore shaft 1 1 $4.49 $4.49 635166 Servocity
pinion_16T MOT 5mm bore 32 pitch, 16T pinion gear 1 1 $7.99 $7.99 615342 Servocity
pinion_20T MOT 1/4" bore 32 pitch, 20T pinion gear 1 1 $7.99 $7.99 615246 Servocity
pinion_24T MOT 1/4" bore 32 pitch, 24T pinion gear 1 1 $7.99 $7.99 615250 Servocity
arduino_mega CNT Arduino Mega micro controller 1 1 $45.95 $45.95 2560 R3 Sparkun
carriage PLC translation carriage 1 1 custom custom custom timsavas
tilt_bracket PLC brackets for tilt 2 2 custom custom custom timsavas
motor_bracket_left PLC tilt motor mount, left 1 1 custom custom custom timsavas
motor_bracket_right PLC tilt motor mount, right 1 1 custom custom custom timsavas
stage PLC camera stage 1 1 custom custom custom timsavas
arduino_bracket PLC arduino Mega mount 2 2 custom custom custom timsavas
arduino_mount PLC plate for Arduino 1 1 custom custom custom timsavas
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775 670 3447 / tsavas[@]media.mit.edu