Category Archives: CAMERA AND AUDIO/VISUAL HACKS

Mounting a GoPro Omni on a DJI Inspire Quadcopter

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Anyone who has used or worked with drones knows that they are interesting platforms on which to mount a camera. Some, from the a cheap Hubsan for around $30 on Amazon, to the much more capable DJI Inspire for around 60 times that price (Amazon), come with them already mounted on them. One thing most, or all as far as I know, don’t have is a spherical camera, allowing you to take “video” for use in virtual reality environments.

This type of recording, done from a drone or otherwise, allows playback to happen later as if you were an observer in a vehicle. You can look around, but can’t control where you are going. 360.place, a startup in the Ybor City district of Tampa, Florida, has been pioneering what can be done with this technology, concentrating on unique views of businesses. As their expertise focuses on software and video production, they asked me to help with the challenge of mounting a heavy (around 2 pounds) GoPro Omni VR rig to their DJI Inspire quadcopter.

Naturally, I was thrilled to take on this challenge, and after about a month of work designing, building, and testing my rig, I delivered a newly-augmented drone to 360.place that they could use to take their VR to the skies!

The Idea

The obvious solution to taking this footage would be to run some sort of pipe from the center of gravity of the quadcopter a few feet down to the camera. This has been done before, but I didn’t see a good way to mount it in the middle without modification. Being a customer’s drone, I much preferred to do something that could easily be removed, and the linked design removed the built-in camera, which I wanted to avoid if possible.

After agonizing over what to do for a week or so and not really coming up with a good solution, the idea finally hit me Read more »

GoPro and Lighting Fixture From EMT Conduit

clamp-intro-1Sometimes ideas come together with the right parts to create something unexpected. After receiving a sample of Maker Pipe parts to examine, I procured several lengths of 3/4 inch EMT conduit to use it with. These parts are very much in their infancy, so it’s really cool to get a preview of this construction tool.

As cool as they are, after cutting conduit to the right length, it hit me that this type of conduit could instead be used with clamp lights to create an overhead lighting fixture. Though I sometimes wonder why I have so many unfinished projects, I immediately set this project aside to attach one of these pipes to my ceiling. The results can be seen in the video below:

Though I haven’t yet made the pipe cube I originally intended to, I did end up using Maker Pipe parts in this project. Someone had mentioned that another angle (or two actually) for my videos would improve the presentation. As seen in the second half of the video, I used this connection hardware to attach another piece of pipe vertically, creating a great mount for my GoPro camera.

The downside to my setup, with cord holding the conduit to the ceiling, is that the fixture tends to sway ever so slightly. Probably not a big deal for lighting, but it can be distracting while filming. Perhaps if I let it settle down for a while before things start, that would help.

I suppose not-quite-perfection what happens when inspiration strikes for a second time when your project is nearly done! You can see overhead video results at around 3:40. Not perfect, but it should make a fun new angle.

I’m curious as to what people think about my voice narration versus subtitles on this video. If you have an opinion, please let me know here or on the video comments! Also, any comments about the very end would be welcome too!

A Great New HTPC Mini Keyboard

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As you might have noticed from my last post, I’m constantly fiddling with my HTPC setup. As I generally enjoy that kind of thing, it’s a reasonable price to pay for having access to everything on the internet. My latest upgrade is a tiny keyboard called the Rii mini i8+ (Amazon).

If you don’t have time to read the rest of my review, if it were a stock I was reviewing, I’d list it as a “strong buy.” It seems to have been designed with the HTPC market in mind, and it reminds me of typing on a generously-sized physical phone keyboard. The keys are kind of a soft-plastic feel, but not too soft to be mushy like a remote control. F1 through F10 are present, which is really convenient if you’ve setup custom macros to launch a certain program or website with them (see this post on how to do this).

The touchpad is similarly setup well for media-PC use. Directions for operation are clearly printed on the pad, which could be useful if you have friends over that want to “drive,” and there are Read more »