HandOfCronus216b project

A maker and a technical student from Sweden built the innovative integrated pan and slide camera system called "HandOfCronus216b".
The photographing community has seen a lot of systems to assist in the creation of time-lapse and movie recordings, but all of them share the same problems. They are big, they are expensive, and they demand a special motorized rail system. To solve these problems, Daniel Nilsson, a maker and a technical student at Umeå University, has spent more than 200 hours over the last ten months, developing and building the integrated pan and slide camera system, that is "HandOfCronus216b". It's based on the powerful and reliable ATmega2560 processor of the Arduino Mega which guarantees precise operation. 

Daniel set out to create a unique and versatile pan and slide camera system. A rugged system with independence and compactness that could be fitted to any kind of rail. It can be short, long or even concave, whichever is needed but most importantly, a rail that is easy to make. Or if only the pan motion feature is needed, it can easily be mounted on a tripod with its Quick-mounts that fits all standard cameras and tripods. 






His invention can accurately move the digital camera along a predetermined path, creating great time-lapse and movie recordings. Although the concept isn't new, the approach is. And this was they way to include all of these features in one compact module whilst keeping the rails as a simple passive component. This, in turn, makes the system more easy to transport and set up while allowing it to be as versatile as most others. It can run at speeds suitable for both movie recording and time lapse photography, giving pan motion and/or slide motion shooting, both with one of the rails from the “SmartRail"- system or on a regular tripod.  









In the beginning, Daniel’s project was only meant to be used for time-laps photography, but it was soon extended for use in movie recordings as well. This is selected via knobs on the front panel that controls settings as run speed, direction, locking or disabling of the steppers. And all of this information is then fed to the operator by the OLED displays easy-to-use graphic interface, which also includes hints for camera setup. The module is powered by a regular li-ion battery accessible from the outside, and charging can be done just like a phone, with its built-in USB charger.

All of the modules mechanics and electronics, including four microprocessors and an Arduino Mega, had to be contained by a shell no larger than your hand. So this was no longer a job for the two-dimensional drawing, and the concerns for overheating were so big, that up until the final verification a temperature sensor was permanently mounted in the module. But the ventilated aluminum body proved to give sufficient cooling, and by using a double-sided circuit board, the area needed was drastically reduced.

Components, materials and building methods are chosen with quality and durability in mind while keeping the weight down. What might be surprising to hear is that many of the parts, although in great condition, aren’t new. For example, the spindle and gearing for the camera’s pan motion feature. The first comes from a vintage record player and the latter was taken from the wiper motor of a battle tank. This might sound strange but these components aren’t something that could be bought off-the-shelf, and fabricating them from scratch wouldn’t make much sense.
3D printing has also shown to be a well-suited way of producing prototyping parts and a perfect tool when making design changes on a regular basis. Furthermore, 3D printing has the advantage of making more complex shapes than many other types of manufacturing, and the parts are often both stronger and lighter than regular plastics, not to mention more environmentally friendly.

This is a great project with an innovative approach to a solution of persistent problems that many photographers faced throughout their careers. We hope to see more of Daniel’s projects in the future!

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