About this project
Motion control brings a new dimension to your real time video and timelapse productions. Building motion control hardware or adapting off the shelf video hardware for motion control can be an exciting project, but the electronics to control it can be a more difficult problem than the hardware. Thats where miniDF comes in. It serves as the electronic bridge between Dragonframe stop motion software and the motors that move your camera.
miniDF is the first low cost four channel adapter system for the Dragonframe stop motion software. It can drive up to four motor drivers. Up to four miniDF controllers can be plugged into Dragonframe at one time, providing control for up to sixteen independent motor axes. The system is very attractively priced. A kit comprised of a zoom motor, a dolly motor and a focus motor with ALL mounting and connecting hardware is priced below the average cost of a Dragonframe interface adapter or motor.
If you have considered building your own motion control rig to move a camera or other mechanical devices during stop motion animation or timelapse photography, you have probably already heard about Dragonframe. Its Arc Motion Control feature allows true keyframable motion control, coordinating many axes of movement simultaneously in one timeline.
Normally you would adapt a video slider or build your own, then you would build all the electronics, connecting them to a laptop running Dragonframe. That is the part we want to make easy.
Our miniDF controller is tiny, but when plugged into a USB port, it provides step and direction signals for driving four motors from Dragonframe's Arc Motion Control Window. All our rewards include a miniDF controller.
The miniDF is a complete camera and dolly control system. One amazing option for the system is the is the bracket focus motor. This zoom/focus motor is also made by us. It has a miniature high torque stepper motor with a tiny orbital gear reduction unit and a bracket that fits industry standard 15mm rail systems. It has a 32p output gear which meshes with standard 32p or MOD 0.8 follow focus lensgears. Two of them can be used to provide concurrent focus and zoom control. It can be used with the TB3 pan tilt head. Upon backer request, we can terminate the the motor with a Emotimo TB3 plug.
We have redesigned the bracket motor to provide better clearance. Also, this new version can be configured by the backer for left or right use. The output gear is interchangeable and bigger gears can be used if required. All rewards have been updated to the new design.
We make things even easier when you choose a reward level that includes motors. In this case, you get the new generation Toshiba 6600 stepper motor drivers already prewired to the motor with the current adjustment set. We also wire a barrel plug for connecting the driver to a 12v lithium battery pack (battery not included), and a TRS cable that fits into any of the four motor ports on the miniDF. This provides a plug and play solution all the way from the USB port to the turning motor shaft.
The Toshiba 6600 stepper driver is one sweet driver for small DSLR rigs. We tried the smaller drivers from Allegro, Texas Instruments, and even the Big Easydriver breakout boards, but the high current Toshiba 6600's caused our motors to run a lot cooler while delivering more torque in all tests. Furthermore, due to the large built in heat sink, no additional cooling is required.
This video shows in more detail how to set the systems and how to make some camera movements with DragonFrame.
Finally, the family picture, the whole miniDF system
Some of the rewards came prepacked with all you need to have you rig working. Also, you can build your own kit by choosing the reward you want. A lens motor requires a stepper driver, lens gear and 15mm rail system to operate.
Production and Delivery Schedule
All the components of the Kickstarter campaign have been tested. We are at a pre-production level and ready to start the process of production as soon as the project is funded successfully. The reward delivery schedule is based on a production run of 100 units or less. If a significant larger number of units were requested, another outsourcing options will be considered such as automated circuit assembly and injection molding. The increased volume of orders will allow us to have an improved vetting process that will result in better materials and better manufacturing process at no extra cost for the backer. In the case that the quantity of orders may make unpractical the actual manufacturing plan, the deliveries will get delayed 45 days over the scheduled plan.
Campaign: Keep working on the documentation of the product, interact with backers and interested people, create new video demos, keep evaluating motor bridges and lens gears. Create FAQ. Create stretch goals.
Shopping: All the the sub-components (drivers, cables, lens gears, motors, cases) and boards will be ordered. It will take 30 days for all the sub-components to arrive.
Manufacturing: With all the sub-components at the shop is time to start the manufacturing. We estimate that this process will take another 30 days. We do not expect any delay at this phase as we have already procured the choicest sources for all sub-assemblies and the design is at a mature state.
Delivery: We know that you are expecting the miniDf. At this phase we will pack the kits with a thank you note and take them to the post office. Our expectation is to be able to complete the shipping in less than 15 days, but 30 days have been allocated to allow for unforeseen delays.
To use the MiniDF, you need Dragonframe stop motion software. You can download a copy at http://www.dragonframe.com/
We've placed a tutorial showing how to install Dragonframe here:
If you plan on getting your own drivers and wiring them to the miniDF yourself, we have placed a tutorial showing how to wire several kinds of drivers to a functional prototype of the miniDF here:
Visit our website at http://www.stepoutmoco.com/
Prototypes and Development
Risks and challenges
We have tested several variations of the circuit and it works. The miniDF has run several different stepper motor types and has been tested with three different stepper motor drivers. We have sourced suppliers for the aluminum cases, all electronic components, and circuit boards. We're ready to go!
Possible risks are those involved in sourcing parts and having printed circuit boards fabricated. Although we have fabricated a small number of boards which work perfectly well, there is always a small chance the next batch could have problems. The boards are fabricated elsewhere, beyond our control, however, enough funds will be left in reserve to correct any problems. We do not foresee any delays with sourcing the parts we put into the boards after they arrive here, but there is always some possibility of a needed part being on back-order. If this causes any delay, we will find alternate suppliers. None of the components is especially hard to come by.
If we sell an overwhelming number of units, we explore other manufacturing options and to meet our reward commitments in a timely manner. We would love to be in a position to hire more people!. Thank you in advance for all your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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