Initial Build of the PiPole-Cam hardware
I did a bit of online research during the preceding week, so I knew about different suspension systems and what other people had built. I had a spare Model A Raspberry Pi and the Raspberry Pi Camera board lying around that where going to be used in another project, so thats what was used here. The initial prototype was quickly assembled over a one weekend period. There isn't really much too it, as it just has to hold a set of wooden cross beams for the suspension system, the Raspberry Pi, a daughter board, camera and a set of Li-Ion batteries.
The daughter board could be smaller, but I thought I might want to leave extra space of other bits and pieces I might want to add on later.
This is the initial top view of the daughter board:
and the bottom of the board:
At the time I didn't have access to a mate's 3D printer, so made my own camera mount out of 3mm MDF board:
The whole assembly's weight, including the batteries, comes in at 323gm:
The above unit's dimensions are: 190mm wide x 210mm wide x 100mm high (to top of camera mount)
I have used an Adafriut Ultimate GPS unit that later on, will add the GPS coordinates to the camera photo's EXIF metadata. When the PiPole-Cam starts up, it will also help sync the GPS time to the Raspberry Pi OS time.
As with most people, I used the Picavet suspension system. It’s a very nifty auto levelling system and has a lovely story about how it was rediscovered in the 1980's. If you’re interested in this, you can read more about it here: http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/equip/picavet.html and here: http://www.kaper.us/basics/BASICS_picavet.html I initially used some 3m long and thick 0.8mm cord I had lying around. More on this later. I used metal eye screws. Later I would find that really the four arms could have been longer, as they interfered with plugging in the USB and HDMI cables etc.
Here is a wide photo of the suspension system laid out on the floor, as last minute software updates where taking place:
The Element14 wi-Pi USB wireless adaptor can be turned into Access Point, this means I can control the PiPole-CAM via the vSSH App on my iPad. The RPi Model A unit was powered from 2 x 3600Ah @ 3.7V Li-ion 18650 batteries wired in series. These theoretically provide around 26Whr and enough to keep the Raspberry Pi Model A running for 12 odd hours of continuous work. You have to love lithium power!