Newbie questions

Hi All

I am looking to get an arudino board and work on a project to create a custom controller for a pan/tilt head to move a video camera… The device i am looking at buying comes with a very basic joystick which isnt going to have the feel i would like, and also it will not be able to zoom the camera… you can zoom on sony cameras via a protocol called “LANC”… So my hope is to build my own custom joystick controller which will incorporate the controls of the pan/tilt head and also zoom in and out via the joystick buttons across LANC… I’ll also add a button for power on/off and connect the camera to a small LCD screen to monitor…

Here is the pan tilt head im looking at getting…

http://www.thecinecity.com/eshop/product.php?productid=185&cat=283&page=1

Ideally i would like to control it via a relatively modern joystick, like a USB logitech but this is where im not sure how practical my aim is… The newer USB joysticks have so many buttons and a great feel to hold so it would be perfect for what i want to do but is it likely to be too difficult to interface with arduino ? Is it even possible to connect a generic USB joystick into arduino and get it controlling things or does it require specific drivers ?

I am totally new to all this and i realise this is probably an ambitious project, but i dont mind if it takes me a while to learn… If anyone has any advice on what i should do in order to tackle this it would be much appreciated…

Hi Richard…

My main hope with customising a joystick was so i could use the thumb and trigger buttons on a PC joystick as the zoom in and out… I think it would feel really natural to hold it in one hand and use the joystick for pan/tilt and the thumb/trigger buttons for zoom…

I hadnt thought of the functionality being problematic being so close together though… With the pan/tilt, could you program arduino to ignore the first few steps of input to avoid slight knocks ? So if there was 100 steps of input on the joystick to move from the center to all the way forward, maybe only start the head tilting when it recieves >10 ?

What you have said about USB interfacing though is what i had expected… it might be something i can work towards down the track then… For now i will aim to just build a small box with a joystick and LANC controls in the one unit, try and make something like an old arcade game console (but smaller)… If the buttons and the joystick are part of the one physical box it will make it easier to handle than two seperate controls…

I’ll keep you posted as i go…

Along time back I made a simple pc based joystick pan/tilt control for my servo based web cam. It worked nice, but the joystick spring return to neutral would have to be disabled for the control to be practical. If the posted cam pan/tilt just uses gear motors, then the pots in a joystick could be connected to an arduino analog in and the analog values mapped to pwm out values and pins that drive an h-bridge that operates a motor. A large hand sized stick is probably needed for fine control if fine control is needed.

thats what i was hoping, that it would be fairly simple. something tells me the pan/tilt head im looking at is built as basic as it can be..

I have been looking around though to find an analog joystick to attempt this.. I would like to find one which has at least 2 buttons if i can but im finding it really difficult.. ideally id like the two buttons to be near the thumb and trigger finger on the stick itself but all of the computer stuff has been USB for ages now and i cant find any other joystick which is similar to this... I have found a few generic arcade style sticks but they dont have the buttons on them..

Does anyone know where i might be able to find an analog "flight sim" style joystick, or at least something with the buttons on the stick itself.. Something like the pic on the right here..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joystick

You can find the analog joysticks like below and sometimes at places like www.geeks.com. A USB type probably could be used by tapping off of the buttons and pots internally, but not as simple as an analog joystick.

http://cgi.ebay.com/QUICKSHOT-ROBO-WARRIOR-15-PIN-PC-JOYSTICK-NIB-/160459529500?pt=PCA_Joysticks_Game_Controllers&hash=item255c221d1c

awesome thats exactly what i was looking for thanks.. I remember quickshot brand from when i was a kid also.. Well i'll see what unfolds from here.. I'll post back as i go.. Thanks for the help :)

The use of the pan/tilt setup would dictate the approach to be used. Absolute positioning based on joystick position may be better for "target tracking" of fast moving subjects/targets. In my test setup to minimize the joystick spring return issue, I programmed such that changing position signals were sent to the servos only when the trigger switch was pulled. Releasing the trigger switch caused the servos to maintain their last position. Slower more controlled movement would be better for video production applications. The buttons on the joystick can be used to switch from one movement speed to another. Lots of different control methods available depending on the desired end setup.