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 Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider 
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Post Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider


A few days ago we headed for a short trip to test out a first prototype of the DitoGear PortaSlider which is a new, modular timelapse slider dedicated to entry-level and professional timelapse shooters.
We wanted to check how the concepts worked and gave a hard-testing run to the new product. With a total of 14 one-meter track units and 2 trolley designs to test out we had a lot of fun!
The track joints seem to work flawlessly and really precisely even on such long track. The trolley need some refinements and this week we're going to test out a new, improved design.

Preparing for shots with a 14 meter track takes some time, but it is definitely worth effort giving a whole bunch of new creative options for shooting.

Now about the slider at a glance:
- continuous and and drive-shoot-drive mode, 2 way w/ shutter control
- modular track design (0.5m, 1.0m, 2.0m modules)
- controller and user interface integrated with motor and trolley
- stepper-motor-based design, high precision known from current DitoGear™ OmniSlider is retained
- auto-stop feature and position-conscious operation
- very basic video mode w/optional controller (left, right, speed adjustment)
- horizontal & diagonal operation w/ lightweight cameras

- option of connecting the DitoGear™ OmniSlider controller for a full-blown set of features (planned in the next releases)
- compatibility with current DitoGear™ OmniSlider accessories - double camera adapter plate, cables, power etc.

Weights:
- Main unit (Igus version) - 1900g including base plate, motor, controller CPU & UI, aluminum cover
- 1.0m track module including end joint adapters and middle tripod adapter: 3400g

Options:
- there is an option of ordering more lightweight, machined modules (30% lighter), but they are almost twice as expensive

Pricing (roughly)
~ USD 1200.00 for a basic 1m kit
~ USD 1400.00 for a basic 2m kit
~ USD 385.00 for 1m track unit
~ USD 606.00 for 2m track unit

The product will appear in our store shortly, so please keep track of www.ditogear.com for precise pricing information and availability.

In case you have any questions or would like to get on the preorder list please mail us at info@ditogear.com

More info soon so keep in touch!
http://ditogear.com
http://facebook.com/​ditogear
http://twitter.com/​ditogear

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Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:30 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Very cool. A potentially infinite track length is a huge advantage. I like the adjustable feet on the supports that go under the track. It is great that the track can bend slightly to go over little bumps in the road. I assume everyone is going to have a ton of questions. Let me start.

Are there any plans for a pan/tilt or telescope drive to be coordinated by the same controller as your dolly?

If not, are the motors 12 volts, and less than one amp (which would be essentially interchangable with the DP controller) for those of us who already own a Dynamic Perception MX-2 controller?

Can the controller coordinate more than one motor for multiaxis moves with a pan/tilt or motorized zoom/focus?

Will the controller have plugs or something where limit switches can be attached to turn it off when it gets to the end of the track so it can be left to run unattended without running off the end of the track?

When can you give us some sort of approximate price for the dolly and for extra track sections?


Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:13 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Quote:
Are there any plans for a pan/tilt or telescope drive to be coordinated by the same controller as your dolly?


Currently MeadeDS2000 may be used, but the electronic and controls are not integrated.
We're planning on building a really advanced multiaxis controller, but these are more distant plans.

Quote:
If not, are the motors 12 volts, and less than one amp (which would be essentially interchangable with the DP controller) for those of us who already own a Dynamic Perception MX-2 controller?


Yes, the motor is 12V, ~0.7A/h current draw. I did not investigate regarding MX compatibility.

Quote:
Can the controller coordinate more than one motor for multiaxis moves with a pan/tilt or motorized zoom/focus?


No, this is a simple controller just to work with the dolly.

Quote:
Will the controller have plugs or something where limit switches can be attached to turn it off when it gets to the end of the track so it can be left to run unattended without running off the end of the track?


These are not necessary, because the controller knows the position of the trolley on the track. If it is set up properly it stops automatically at the end of the track.
However, with very long tracks you have to watch for cables and power moving physically the battery behind the trolley. We're thinking about a small battery kit to go on the trolley - that will make easier dealing with long track moves.
Of course this is not an issue with short tracks.

Quote:
When can you give us some sort of approximate price for the dolly and for extra track sections?


Really shortly.

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Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:24 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Very cool x2

A couple more questions:

1. Approximate weight of each track segment?
2. Any plans to add curved segments?

Also add my vote for MX2 compatibility. It would be great if all these systems coming out could integrate.

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Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:07 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Quote:
1. Approximate weight of each track segment?


1-meter segment is 3400g including: profile, drive belt, 1x middle tripod adapter, track end joints/adapters
The main controller/motor unit is 1900g total.

Quote:
2. Any plans to add curved segments?


Not at the moment. However we're working on a completely different timelapse/video tool that will make different paths possible.

Quote:
Also add my vote for MX2 compatibility. It would be great if all these systems coming out could integrate.

I guess this won't be easy. Our system is based on a stepper motor, so I guess that it won't integrate easily.

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Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:24 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Actually, cross compatability between the two systems shouldn't be all that difficult.

Converting an existing Dynamic Perception slider for use with the dittogear controller can be accomplished with a simple, flat adapter plate. Holes in the plate line up with the holes in the Dynamic Perception motor, where the bolts hold it to the DP trolley. This just establishes where the holes go. You do not actually mount the DP motor to the plate. An additional set of holes in the adapter plate line up with the mounting for a stepper motor like the Dittogear slider uses. You bolt the stepper motor to the adapter plate and then bolt the adapter plate/motor combo onto the DP trolley right where the original DP motor went. With the stepper mounted on the DP trolley, you can use your DP slider with the Dittogear stepper based controller.

If you want to use any Dittogear accessories under control of the Dynamic Perception MX-2 and other, future DP controllers, a simple variable speed stepper controller would make an excellent "translating device". something simple with a knob to adjust the speed will work fine. Adjust the speed until the stepper turns about as fast as you want it to go during your move. For example, to mimic the speed of the Dynamic Perception motor (8 RPM), adjust the knob on the stepper controller until the motor turns approximately 8 RPM. Make a special adapter cable that includes a 12 volt relay switch. Attach the relay coil leads to a plug that fits the motor output on the MX-2. Cut the common conductor in the cable going from the stepper controller to the motor so you can connect it to the switch part of the relay, so it makes contact when the relay coil is turned on and breaks the connection when the relay coil is turned off. The MX-2 is going to try to drive its DC motor in interleaved mode by turning it on at full speed and varying the amount of time it remains on to determine the length of the move. With the stepper controller serving as translator, the MX-2 powers up the relay, connecting the motor to the stepper controller for a certain amount of time, and the stepper controller turns the stepper motor at a constant (8 RPM) rate for that amount of time. When the MX-2 decides to turn its motor off, it cuts power to the relay coil which causes the relay switch to disconnect the stepper motor from the stepper controller. Of course, the MX-2 is only interrupting the connection between stepper controller and stepper motor. To reverse direction, you have to reverse the direction setting on the stepper controller. If you change the speed setting on the MX-2 it will change the amount of time the relay keeps the motor connected to the stepper controller, so the length of the move should change by approximately the right amount.


Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:16 pm
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Quote:
Actually, cross compatibility between the two systems shouldn't be all that difficult.
Converting an existing Dynamic Perception slider for use with the ditogear controller can be accomplished with a simple, flat adapter plate. Holes in the plate line up with the holes in the Dynamic Perception motor, where the bolts hold it to the DP trolley. This just establishes where the holes go. You do not actually mount the DP motor to the plate. An additional set of holes in the adapter plate line up with the mounting for a stepper motor like the Dittogear slider uses. You bolt the stepper motor to the adapter plate and then bolt the adapter plate/motor combo onto the DP trolley right where the original DP motor went. With the stepper mounted on the DP trolley, you can use your DP slider with the Dittogear stepper based controller.


That's probably possible if you changed the gears and traction in our system, but I don't really see any practical application of such thing. I don't get the idea why one might want to attach the DitoGear™ PortaSlider motor box and its simple controller to the Dynamic Perception's Stage Zero Dolly track. I guess that if you own a DP dolly and you're fine with its precision, features and track design you won't really want to upgrade it to the PortaSlider. The only logical upgrade reason for me would be if you needed much more features and higher precision. And this is something you won't get from the DP track and PortaSlider controller. You'd need to consider DitoGear™ OmniSlider in such case.

What might maybe makes more sense would be to use the DitoGear™ OmniSlider Controller attached to the current PortaSlider motor box in conjunction with a Stage Zero track that you already own.
But is it worth it? My supposition is that if you want to upgrade your existing system, you'd expect also a better track and precision.

Did I miss something?

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Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:32 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
paco wrote:
Did I miss something?

MX2 can control 2 motors in addition to a Merlin pan/tilt head. It's also open source, so possible to add custom features... if your game (I'm planning to modify it to allow PC control). So for me, I like the idea of a universal open source controller that can control various hardward configurations.

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Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:59 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Quote:
MX2 can control 2 motors in addition to a Merlin pan/tilt head. It's also open source, so possible to add custom features... if your game (I'm planning to modify it to allow PC control). So for me, I like the idea of a universal open source controller that can control various hardward configurations.


But you refer to using MX2 to control PortaSlider dolly and stepper motor. As far as I understood, sciencelookers wanted to use PortaSlider controller and motor to run on the Stage Zero track:

Quote:
With the stepper mounted on the DP trolley, you can use your DP slider with the Dittogear stepper based controller.


The PortaSlider as well as DitoGear™ OmniSlider both use the stepper motor controller PCB and what sciencelookers suggested regarding in the second part of his post, regarding the relays and controlling a stepper motor from MX as if it was a DC motor is technically possible. I guess that if there's any interest for that we could add a compatibility mode to the existing controller as well as pull out some connectors. However, I am still not convinced if it really makes sense. Because instead of fluent and continuous motion you get a choppy motion as the motor turns on and rotates at the constant speed in particular intervals.

Could you please explain a bit more regarding how often MX2 turns the motor on?
What's the precision of this system at the moment? i.e what is the minimum distance or angle (in mm of the track or degrees of rotation of the motor) in an MX2-controlled dolly?
What is the slowest speed of the dolly (in continuous mode)?

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Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:17 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
paco wrote:
But you refer to using MX2 to control PortaSlider dolly and stepper motor. As far as I understood, sciencelookers wanted to use PortaSlider controller and motor to run on the Stage Zero track:

Yeah sorry, I was responding to the 2nd part of sciencelookers post. My bad.

paco wrote:
uld you please explain a bit more regarding how often MX2 turns the motor on?
What's the precision of this system at the moment? i.e what is the minimum distance or angle (in mm of the track or degrees of rotation of the motor) in an MX2-controlled dolly?
What is the slowest speed of the dolly (in continuous mode)?

Not 100% sure on the first 2 questions (others can answer), but for the 3rd it's around 3mm per minute (configured horizontal).

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Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:27 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
paco wrote:
- Main unit (Igus version) - 1900g including base plate, motor, controller CPU & UI, aluminum cover
- 1.0m track module including end joint adapters and middle tripod adapter: 3400g


Which Igus rail is it that's been chosen for this?

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Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:31 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
For those with a DP slider;

I was just offering suggestions, which I have a bad habit of doing whenever someone dismisses something as "not possible". Be warned: much of what i do is not very practical and doesn't make much sense to most people.

I like the Dittogear stepper based system in principal. It has the potential to do precision repeatable moves. If it is accurate enough for compositing, this would be a feature that several people have been asking about doing with the DP dolly, but the DP dolly was never designed for that.

Given that hundreds of existing DP sliders are out there, I was wondering if it made any sense for someone who already owns a DP slider to upgrade its repeatability by switching to Dittogear controller and motor. For example, I have already invested heavily in the DP system. I got a Merlin and upgraded to a longer 20 foot reinforced track which can run 15 feet unsupported. Without knowing the relative prices of the Dittogear controllers, motors and track, its hard to say. If controllers are expensive and track is cheap it might not pay to bother with it.

Some people have been asking about using the DP slider at high speeds for real time full motion video shooting. It seemed like the Dittogear conversion (using Dittogear motor and controller) might solve that problem as well. An easier solution might be to use a higher speed version of the Dayton gearmotor and drive it with an electronic speed controller. Servocity sells a 10 amp electronic speed controller for $100, which can plug into any of their servo controllers. Depending on which servo controller you choose, you can control the motors speed and direction with a knob, a programmable knob that repeats your move, a joystick, or a computer interface which allows coordination of up to eight axes.

For those with a Dittogear slider;

I also suggested the possibility that someone with the Dittogear slider might want to use the MX-2 controller to tell the dolly when to move. This would allow the Merlin head to do controlled pan and tilt movements which are actually synched to the dolly movements. The real need for this is probably temporary, assuming Dittogear starts selling their own pan-tilt head soon and that it is similar in price to the Merlin.

I also hear that Chris has introduced a new feature in the MX-2 that lets the MX-2 accept trigger commands from an external intervalometer. This feature allows a simpler solution; Use the dittogear slider and connect the MX-2 trigger input into the Dittogear camera trigger output plug. That way the MX-2 does a Merlin move and triggers your camera every time the Dittogear slider moves and sends the camera trigger signal.


Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:52 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Quick question:
What is the practical difference between regular trolly and the trollyPro? Smoother? Lower friction? Can the trollyPro go vertical?

About the OmniSlider controller: I see you can set number of shots, and durration and length. But can you set cm/min in stead of length or do you have to figure this out our self?

BroderLund


Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:28 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Quote:
What is the practical difference between regular trolly and the trollyPro? Smoother? Lower friction? Can the trollyPro go vertical?


Regular trolley is based on original Igus parts. Although this is an improved version with small wheels, there are this flexible rubber (?) pads inside that with time and conditions get really not fluent.
Glidetrack users know about their disadvantages very well. This is OK for shooting timelapse, much more troublesome when operating manually. Anyway - this is not resistant to changing humidity, sand etc.

The Trolley pro does not use the original Igus parts at all which are the weakest part of the Igus system. Instead, we designed a precise multiwheel trolley.
In theory:
• It is much more resistant to humidity, sand etc. (does not have the Igus parts drawbacks)
• It helps to go pass the imperfections of the track joints
• It allows for smooth manual operation (if the trolley is inserted the opposite direction and is not locked at the track by gear and traction system)

Quote:
About the OmniSlider controller: I see you can set number of shots, and durration and length. But can you set cm/min in stead of length or do you have to figure this out our self?


You can't set it explicitly at the moment, however this should be available with the upcoming firmware upgrade.

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Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:45 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
paco wrote:
BroderLund wrote:
About the OmniSlider controller: I see you can set number of shots, and durration and length. But can you set cm/min in stead of length or do you have to figure this out our self?


You can't set it explicitly at the moment, however this should be available with the upcoming firmware upgrade.


Maybe a cm/shot would be an idea in s-m-s?

BroderLund


Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:00 am
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse slider
Having seen this material used for MoCo before, I guess this "track" is fairly common in "hollywood", and is nothing custom. Each section if 8' that I have seen is about 8-10lbs. This stuff is not lightweight, it is very high grade aluminum and solid for its size. The tests I saw with it was done on a pair of tripods and the system was very stable.

Warnings:

1) I will tell you this, their interconnects (the pins) look as if they are far too long, and once dirt gets in there, they will start locking up. I've see far shorter pieces lockup and become scrap.

2) At close to $400 a 6' section (with shipping), there will be other outlets for the rails.

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Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:50 pm
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Post Re: Introducing DitoGear™ PortaSlider - modular timelapse sl
Hi there,

Just an update on this system as we're still getting a lot of inquiries on the DitoGear™ PortaSlider.

The DitoGear™ PortaSlider will not be continued anymore.

Mainly due to manufacturing process issues we decided to restart from scratch with totally new design concept.
The new modular slider should come up within a few months and I'll be posting about it in a new thread as soon as we're ready to share some more details.
At the moment I can only tell you that it is very promising at the stage of prototype.

The support for the existing units will be still provided.
For users that got the proproduction versions of the DitoGear™ PortaSlider we're also planning an upgrade/replacement options as soon as the new system is released.

Best
Paco

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Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:59 am
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