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First Arduino Attempt

Inspired by Joergen Geerds, I decided that during the coming travel I will play with an Arduino to control my camera. Before departure I needed to:

  • get the necessary hardware
  • assemble and test it
  • get the integrated development environment (IDE) up and running

The user interface was the critical bottleneck of the process. Joergen uses a single button and a Nokia LCD. Besides that I could not find the parts close enough to be delivered in time, I wanted something more expandable. I found the TouchShield Slide from Liquidware. The rationale behind buying a touchscreen (and the bigger of the two available) is flexibility in designing the user interface.

The guys at Liquidware have been very helpful. Justin Huynh made an extra run to UPS for me, to get the hardware delivered in time. Mike Gionfriddo patiently helped me on the learning curve with very fast reply to my email support requests. When I had an issue with the IDE Christopher Ladden  helped me understand the errors and correct them. Liquidware, highly recommended!

In the end, rather than using the downloadable binary IDE for OSX and Windows, I built it straight out of github. This had the extra bonus that I could build it for my Ubuntu notebook as well, although I have not had time to test the Ubuntu build – the “hello world” was all done on a Windows workstation.

TouchShield Slide

Assembling the hardware went OK despite me having two left hands. I had not done soldering work for years. The difference between my setup and Joergen’s is that I put a 10kOhm resistor on the transistor’s base, and I put it on pin 12.

A quick “hello world” on the touchscreen before packing. Too bad there was no power outlet in the plane, so I’ll have to wait for the next free moment to start coding.

Right now this hardware is just for an intervallometer. Beyond this, there are many shields in the Arduino universe and my intention is to use a few of them.

There is a shield to control stepper motors. One step closer to an automated pano head.

There is a USB host shield. With a little bit of digging and/or reverse I hope for finer control my Canon dSLR via USB.

There is a GPS shield for geolocation, and a wireless shield, and an ethernet shield, and… the sky is the limit. Open Source hardware, so great!

I was finished just in time for packing. I did not have a neat box for it, though. It will be fun at border control, with all those wires.

LGM Day 3, Day 4, Follow Up

Days went by so quick, so here is a summary.

Day three was intense. The presentations were very interesting, particularly those of Andrew Mihal about Enblend-Enfuse and about GPU stitching. In the evening we had the conference supper, a very pleasant social event at which I learned from about Øyvind’s Now By Then installation and got a chance to purchase one of the last “Architecture Fiver“‘s  that Stani brought along for his talk. He also patiently gave me an insight into the thinking pattern of curators, lifting my morale from the previous day.

On day four I had a near-death experience. Since Tom Sharpless could not attend, I picked up his slide and hosted the talk. In the morning I prepared my notebook in dual display mode, so that on one display I can run the demonstrations of Panini, MathMap and Hugin, while on the other display I had my notes, which I kept editing until shortly before my talk. Without saving. Disaster strikes when I connect the notebook to the projector. My notebook’s native resolution is 1400×1050, too much for the projector to handle. Must restart X. Lose all presets and notes! I froze on the spot. Had to cut on a few gimmicks such as recording the talk with the catadioptric lens or shooting a stitched panorama during the talk (I made the move with the camera around the tripod, but had no available brain cycles to even think of setting the exposure or pressing the real button. I felt like a zombie and was disappointed at my performance which I felt was terrible, although a look at its recording comforted me: it was not that bad after all, even if I forgot to say half the things I wanted to say, the live demo and the interaction with the public were not that catastrophic.

The good news from day four was that Sébastien and Vincent debugged the flat display in extremis so that people walking out of for the lunch break passed by and could admire Guillaume’s stunning Boulevard Bancel (we’ll gladly admit that once this was on screen and working we pulled the cables on the slide show so that nothing can go wrong. Proper slide show the next time).

Since the cafeteria was closed on Sunday, we had to order pizzas for lunch, which was great as it inspired more exchanges before the last presentations. In the end, I even got the honor of shooting the official group picture, and to offer some of the present teams a panorama inside a panorama in the Cyclorama, while our team helped folding up the exhibit canvases.

After protracted good byes, I drove eastwards with Alexandre and Pablo. Alexandre only joined us for a tour of Québec-City. Pablo continued with us to Boréalie before I drove him back to Montréal for his flight on Wednseday. The rest of the week, and the weekend, I had to catch up with pent up business. Particularly the weekend was difficult, with a few difficulties upgrading servers remotely from FreeBSD 6.3 to FreeBSD 7.2 (the worse thing is that all manipulations worked well on the guinea-pig server in the office that is pretty much an exact mirror of the servers to be upgraded).

I still made time on Sunday evening for another quick hop to Montréal, and I am happy I did. Joergen Geerds was visiting for the weekend with his girlfriend. Interesting people.