Tag Archives: computer

Raspberry Pi Model B+

The Raspberry Pi Model B+ is the latest model in the Raspberry Pi stable of computers. It is a credit card sized computer that can run a number of operating systems including Linux and Android, it was originally aimed at teaching children computing, programming and electronics but has been embraced by a whole community of people interested in its potential.

Raspberry Pi Model B+

With the GPIO (general purpose input/output) pins on the board many different electrical devices can be controlled; from turning an LED (light emitting diode) on and off to driving motors and taking readings from distance measuring devices. This makes it very useful for controlling robotics such as UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and Rovers.

By the inclusion of a battery pack it can be made completely portable, with the computer being controlled remotely via Wi-Fi using a wireless dongle and using either the SSH (Secure Shell) command prompt interface or the VNC (Virtual Network Computing) virtual desktop application, you can even use your mobile phone – http://www.raspberrypi.org/piui-control-your-pi-with-your-phone/.

The model B+ costs around £25.

Camera Module
Although the Raspberry Pi itself comes with no digital recording capabilities out of the box, for another £25 the camera module can be purchased and used to record video at 1080p30, 720p60 and VGA90 modes and images can be captured with its 5 megapixel camera.

Potential
The previous versions of the Raspberry Pi have already been used in robotics projects such as controlling Rovers and UAVs to controlling photographic recording stations. With extra GPIO pins and a more powerful computer this potential can be added to.
http://makezine.com/2013/07/06/the-raspberry-rover/
Rover

http://www.botched.co.uk/
UAV

It can be used to make cheaper versions of technology which already perform a usefully function; such as this gigapixel camera rig which takes overlapping DSLR photographs with preset motorised rotation and elevation of the rig set by the software on the Raspberry Pi, with the rotation being also controlled by the Raspberry Pi using a stepper motor whose rotation can be set accurately. The images can later be stitched together in software. A commercial version of this system is the GigaPan EPIC Pro gigapixel camera rig which costs $995. The software for the project is free to download. Free software solutions for stiching panorama photos together also exist, such as http://hugin.sourceforge.net/ and Microsoft’s ICE (Image Composite Editor) http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/
Gigapixel Camera Rig
An example gigapixel image using the rig can be seen here.
Gigapixel
An example of a GigaPan capture undertaken with an EPIC Pro by the author and a colleague on the site of Netley Abbey in Hampshire as part of a recording project can be seen here.

Netley Abbey - GigaPan

Maker movement companies such have Adafruit have embraced the Raspberry Pi designing by building and selling many addons, including motor controller boards and touch screens.

Limiting factors
The Raspberry Pi can run many useful pieces of software but it is limited by it’s processing power, although multiple Pi’s could be used for different parts of a project.

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Bublcam

The Bublcam is a Kickstarter 360º camera which records spherical photographs and videos for everything from photographic enthusiasts to baby monitoring.

The Bublcam utilizes 4 190º, 1.6 megapixels lenses to capture an overlaping digital bubble. The sensor captures 5 megapixels allowing a 3840 X 3840 as a 14 megapixel multiplexed photo to be created and has high quality low-light vision. The system can also export both panoramic and HDR (High Dynamic Range) photographs. It’s tri-axial accelerometer can assist with stabilizing images when the the orientation is changed. It is capable of recording video at 30fps at 720p or 15fps at 1080p and exports MP4 format.

The sensor OmniVision will allow the user to set gamma, contrast, gain, brightness and saturation.

The internal Bublcam Wi-fi unit will allow the video to be streamed to a PC, Mac, and mobile devices on iOS or Android using the bublApp, VLC or Quicktime. Live video stitching will be available at some point.

The Bublcam costs $699 and will begin shipping in spring 2015.

Potential
The fact that Bublcam is leveraging the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion APIs (application programming interface) means that Bublcam photographs and videos can be viewed within the Oculus Rift and controlled remotely with the Leap Motion hand tracking controller.

The Bublcam can be attached to UAVs recording both photographs and video while in the air – http://www.bublcam.com/portfolio/bubl-takes-flight/ – indeed the PlexiDrone is designed to carry the Bublcam as a payload with a dedicated mount.
Bublcam PlexiDrone mount

It can also be worn on top of a helmet allowing wearable recording to be conducted.

Limitations
The relatively low level of image quality, together with the fact that the system is designed to create a panoramic photo bubble, may limit its potential for use with other techniques such as photogrammetry

News – Google Street View Trekker

Google has announced that their Street View Trekker backpack will be available to borrow by organisations including tourism boards, non-profit organisations, government agencies, universities or research groups. The Trekker bacpack was designed to enable the recording of areas of the world where the Google Street View Car could not reach, so that the imigary could be incorporated in Street View within Google Maps.

The Street View Trekker backpack consists of a dome of 15 5-megapixel digital cameras which record images every 2.5 seconds as a person walks forward, two GPS receivers which log the location data, two SSD (Solid State Drivves) which store the data and dual lithium batteries which allow 8 hours of recording. The images are procecssed into 360 panoramas when the system is returned to the office. The system weighs 42 pounds.

Potential
With a partnership with Google heritage bodies have the ability of recording walkthoughs of important monuments easily with advanced digital technology which can be incorporated into the free Google Maps system; and as of December 2014 Historic Scotland have taken advantage of this showcasing 16 of their properties.

The system provides quality site tours of important cultural heritage which can be viewed by anyone using the Street View system.

Limitations
As the system is ground based only views from this angle will be recorded, meaning that informaion from other angles is lost.

The cameras are only 5-megapixel, which work well for the intended purpose of creating web accessible 360° panoramas, but limits their usefullness for other techniques such as photogrammetry.