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My homemade spherical panoramic head design (w/ pics)

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Thread started 17 Apr 2009 (Friday) 13:35   
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5teve
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Moderator Update 10/9/2009: It was brought to our attention that this design is from Dr. Sean Parkin http://xray.uky.edu ...in/panohead/panohea​d.htmlexternal link. Please give credit where credit is due.:

UPDATE 4/21/09: Added actual build details starting from post #41. http://photography-on-the.net ...hread.php?t=679708&​page=3

Update 10/9/09: Modified post to indicate that this design is based off a design from Dr. Sean Parkin. http://xray.uky.edu ...in/panohead/panohea​d.htmlexternal link

I was interested in desigining my own Panoramic head. Initially I was looking at purchasing the Panosauras, but after much research decided I wanted something a bit sturdier and also something that could I could disassemble easily for travelling. I also looked at the ever popular Nodal Ninja, but did not want to shell out $300-$400 for the NN5 (as the NN3 was too small for my camera). I ended up modifying a design that I came across here http://xray.uky.edu ...in/panohead/panohea​d.htmlexternal link. This was a design from Dr. Sean Parkin, and the only modification I made was to remove the use of the Manfrotto plate, and also added the ability for some detents to be placed every 30 degrees or so on the rotator.

I started with the plan of using a Manfrotto quick release plate that would be permanently attached to the head, like how Sean designed his head. The vertical arm is removable by unscrewing the one knob at the bottom. Unscrewing the vertical arm will be the only thing that will need to be done to take apart the head for travel (no tools needed!).

I then created a simple Visio diagram which detailed all the necessary measurements that I would need for my specific camera and nodal point, taking into account the thickness of the material, and the Manfrotto plate.

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I purchased the Manfrotto plates from Amazon, but after receiving them had second thoughts on using them. The plates were rather heavy and bulky (and a bit pricey ~$30), so back they went.

Here is my revised plan without using the Manfrotto plate. In order to keep with my criteria of not needing tools to assemble or use the head, I needed to add a spacer between the vertical arm and the arm that the camera mounts to.
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To validate how this adapted design would look, I then made a 3D model using Sketchup.
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Model with the arm rotated up 90 degrees.
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And finally, model with the camera mounted and ready for action.

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If all goes as planned I should have my head completely finished this weekend :). I will post a build thread once complete.

Post #1, Apr 17, 2009 13:35:47


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czeglin
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How do you guarantee alignment between the horizontal & vertical arms? Seems like an alignment slot/tab would be helpful, but then you're moving from DIY territory into machining.

Are you using the panning base on the ballhead or do you have a separate panning head?

Finally, a shout out to McMaster-Carr. Best website ever for finding "I-don't-know-quite-what-I'm-looking-for".

Post #2, Apr 17, 2009 13:52:56


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5teve
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czeglin wrote in post #7750866external link
How do you guarantee alignment between the horizontal & vertical arms? Seems like an alignment slot/tab would be helpful, but then you're moving from DIY territory into machining.

The pan head screws that are used to hold the vertical arm onto the lower plate actually have a bit of adjustment to them. They don't have much adjustment (about 1/32"), but enough to guarantee that the distance is correct.

An alignment slot would have been great! But you're right that is more of a machining task. I actually thought about how to make a slot so that the head could be used for multiple cameras, but without a CNC couldn't really find a good way to make one.

Are you using the panning base on the ballhead or do you have a separate panning head?

Finally, a shout out to McMaster-Carr. Best website ever for finding "I-don't-know-quite-what-I'm-looking-for".

I am not using the panning base on my ballhead, since the panoramic head is designed such that the base rotates. The thin silver color you see in the 3D model is actually a bearing which allows the upper disk to rotate against the lower one. I also modified Sean's original design such that there are detents every 30 degrees and these detents are adjustable by switching out a "detent washer".

Yes, McMaster-Carr is awesome. That is my new favorite site for finding those random parts that I didn't even know existed.

Post #3, Apr 17, 2009 14:11:33


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5teve
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I created a rendering which shows the exploded view of the base of the panoramic head. I wanted to sketch up the head to see if I could find a way for the detent indexing pin to work properly. There is a needle bearing between the upper and lower disks. I drilled out small holes on the inner washer every 30 degrees which allow the ball detent spring to index against. There is another small pin to locate the washer and prevent it from spinning inside.

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Here is another view with "see through" enabled on the model, which may or may not make things clearer.

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Post #4, Apr 17, 2009 18:09:25


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Grentz
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Very impressive work, will be interesting to see how the final piece comes out ;)

Post #5, Apr 17, 2009 20:25:20


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SYS
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Me too. :)

Post #6, Apr 17, 2009 20:28:00



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A_Whelan
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5teve wrote in post #7752281external link
I created a rendering which shows the exploded view of the base of the panoramic head. This piece actually took the longest time to figure out how to make it work :). In any case, there is a needle bearing between the upper and lower disks. I drilled out small holes on the inner washer every 30 degrees which allow the ball detent spring to index against. There is another small pin to locate the washer and prevent it from spinning inside.

Will this act in a way to feel it "click" as you turn every 30 degrees? If so very neat idea!

Also how are you doing to fabricate it? CNC Machine? I was thinking getting some help with doing something similar. It will be interesting to see the final product!
Aaron

Post #7, Apr 18, 2009 20:22:16




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ben_r_
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Looks a little like the RRS solution. How much would something like this run you actually produce?

Post #8, Apr 18, 2009 20:29:13


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5teve
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A_Whelan wrote in post #7758008external link
Will this act in a way to feel it "click" as you turn every 30 degrees? If so very neat idea!

Yes, the detent is so that I will be able to feel it "click" every 30 degrees. I noticed that the commercial heads had this feature, and thought it was a great idea as well.

Also how are you doing to fabricate it? CNC Machine? I was thinking getting some help with doing something similar. It will be interesting to see the final product!
Aaron

I am doing all the fabrication at home with basic handtools and woodworking tools. I've actually finished fabricating the parts and just need to complete the finishing touches tomorrow. The base seems to "click" just like I had planned! I'll test it later with the camera attached and see if I am still able to feel the detents.

Post #9, Apr 18, 2009 20:53:57


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joeseph
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5teve wrote in post #7750991external link
The pan head screws that are used to hold the vertical arm onto the lower plate actually have a bit of adjustment to them.

them pan head screws are likely the most stressed points in the design I think - I'd be inclined to get the best quality ones you can. Only other area I'd suggest might need beefing up is the threaded aluminium for the swing arm doesn't have a lot of threads for the load you'll be putting on (and every time you tighten it up) if needed you can always suppliment this with a captive steel nut.

Great work with the drawings!

Post #10, Apr 18, 2009 21:11:00


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WillOPhotos
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looks like 360 Precision Panno head, I have one that looks similar.

Post #11, Apr 18, 2009 21:43:50 as a reply to joeseph's post 32 minutes earlier.


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5teve
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WillOPhotos wrote in post #7758404external link
looks like 360 Precision Panno head, I have one that looks similar.

Wow, I just took a look at that head and it looks really nice. Very pricey though. I would estimate that the parts for my head are only around $100. Of course I am not factoring in the "cost" for my time, but since I enjoy doing this type of work I figure that cost as a benefit.

Post #12, Apr 18, 2009 21:49:36


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WillOPhotos
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yeah its the only bit of equipment where I wasnt happy spending the money haha good luck with yours it looks like you know what your doing!

Post #13, Apr 19, 2009 03:44:08 as a reply to 5teve's post 5 hours earlier.


Hassy H4D-40, Gitzo 3541XLS, RRS BH-55
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5teve
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I finished building my panoramic head this weekend! The only part that didn't go as planned was being able to dye my parts black. For some reason the test piece that I anodized did not take the dye well and ended up very splotchy and purplish in color. I decided to just go ahead and anodize without the dye. I will post pictures of the completed head shortly.

Post #14, Apr 19, 2009 21:08:11


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5teve
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I also decided to have an arm detent that clicks at 0, +45, -45, +90, -90. Below is the exploded view of the design for that feature.

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Post #15, Apr 20, 2009 11:18:29


5D2 | 24-105 f/4 L IS | 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II | 100-400 f/4-5.6 L | 50 f/1.4 | 580EXII | 2x 430EXII | S95

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My homemade spherical panoramic head design (w/ pics)
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