How To Make A Photo Turn Table Using Raspberry Pi PICO!

raspberry pi pico

So this is the newest addition the the raspberry pi family it’s called the Pico!

Now this ones not a miniature computer like the pi 3b+ or Pi zero, it’s actually a stand alone micro-controller.

I have also made a YouTube video on this which you can check out here: https://youtu.be/P9Ecb2ZDq4c

It can be used in a multitude of different electronic projects such as games, testing equipment, robotics , but today we’ll be using it to make a photography turn table which will spin subjects around to photograph or shoot b-roll.

 

The 3D printed parts were drawn up on the site Tinkercad which is a very straight forward 3D modelling program anyone can get started with.

you can access the project files here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4768052

If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, there are some very affordable 3D print on demand services online that are a great option for printing your designs and shipping them to you. I’ll have a link to a few of them down below.

Now just as a disclaimer due to the size of the small stepper motor used in this project this one is well suited for light objects but nothing heavy or the motor simply won’t be able to spin the top so fair warning in terms of what this one is capable of.

Electrical Parts Needed

To start of with these are the electrical parts you’ll need :

*all parts are on amazon and will be linked below this post*

  1. A Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller board
  2. Small integrated bread board with these dimensions
  3. 6 male to socket jumper wires
  4. 2 socket to socket jumper wires
  5. Arduino power module
  6. Stepper motor 28BYJ-48
  7. Motor Driver board with a ULN2003 driver chip
  8. Micro usb cable to usb A
  9. 9V battery and with barrel jack plug connection.

Hardware

hardware needed for project

  1. Lazy suzan table bearing assembly
  2. 4X #4 size 6mm long self tapper screws
  3. 4X M3X10mm screws
  4. 4X M3X10 threaded Spacers

Tools

tools for pico project

  1. Philips screw driver
  2. 3D printer or have access to a 3D printing service locally
  3. Vernier calipers for measuring components
  4. Hot glue gun or blue tac depending on if you want to re-use the components for another project.

Now this project can be broken down into 5 main parts.

1.Setting up the Raspberry Pi Pico and coding environment on your computer

2. Building the electrical circuit

3.Coding the program that will make the electrical parts function

4.Designing and printing parts to assemble the turn table

5.Turn table assembly and testing

1 – Setup Pico

To begin with we need to set up the Raspberry Pi Pico by downloading a program called Thonny.

Thonny is used for writing Micro Python code specifically for creating a working program we can run once the PICO is powered on.

Once you have downloaded and Installed Thonny the next step is to:

Add Micro Python firmware to the Pico, to do this

bootsel raspberry pi pico

Attach raspberry pi pico to breadboard
Connect micro usb cable to PICO
Hold down bootsel button on Pico
While holding down button connect cable then to usb port on PC

There should now be a USB drive type device pop up with 2 files
Open INDEX.HTM
click on the MicroPython
Click on the ‘Download UF2 file’ button

Drag file from your downloads into Pico folder
And now Pico can communicated with Thonny to load programs onto the device using code we’ve written.

Install IDE environment. Download it from https://thonny.org/

2 – Building the Stepper Motor Circuit

After the development environment is setup along with the PICO its time to build the electrical circuit, to get started you’ll need in front of you the follow things

photo turn table parts needed

Breadboard
Pico
6 male to socket jumper wires
And 2 socket to socket jumper wires
Arduino power module
ULN2003 Motor Driver circuit board
Stepper Motor 28BYJ-48
And lastely the 9V battery and barrel jack plug

Start by attaching the Pico with the micro usb connector facing out and insert it into the breadboard lining one side of the pins up with the C column and the other side into the h column this leaves us enough room to fit the wires beside the micro controller in order to connect it with the motor driver

 

Next attach the power module behind the microcontroller leaving enough space between the PICO and the power module so they don’t get in the way of one another

Next using this diagram we’re going to install wires connecting the GPIO pins 1 2 4 and 5 to the motor driver board corresponding IN1 IN2 IN3 and IN4 labelled pins in order for the Pico to be able to talk with the motor chip to tell the stepper motor when to move.

photo turn table wiring diagram

 

So Pin 1 will connect to IN1 Pin 2 with IN2 Pin 4 with IN3 and finally Pin 5 with IN4

Finally attach the Stepper motor plug into the motor driver board and plug in the micro USB cable into the Pico and the other end into your computer and the barrel connector into the power module to supply power to the bread board.

3 – Coding

Now it’s time to code our program that will make the stepper motor turn a full 360 degrees continuously.

photo turn table code

To do this we first need to look at the ULN2003 motor driver chip documentation where it states to move the motor forward we have to put specific pins high for a moment in order for the spindle to turn:
Pin 1, then 1 and 2, then 2 and 3 and so on. In the MicroPython coding language it can be done like so:

First we’ll start by configuring GPO, GP1, GP2 and GP3 pins for output:

import time

from machine import Pin

pin1 = Pin(0,Pin.OUT)
pin2 = Pin(1,Pin.OUT)
pin3 = Pin(2,Pin.OUT)
pin4 = Pin(3,Pin.OUT)

pins = [
pin1, pin2, pin3, pin4,
]

Next we need to write those steps as pins that must have a status of high to move:

steps = [
[pin1],
[pin1, pin2],
[pin2],
[pin2, pin3],
[pin3],
[pin3, pin4],
[pin4],
[pin4, pin1],
]

current_step = 0

Based off which step we are currently in we can select which pins must be set to high. After reaching the last element the sequence starts from the beginning:

while True:
high_pins = steps[current_step]
set_pins_low(pins)
set_pins_high(high_pins)
current_step += 1
if current_step == len(steps):
current_step = 0
time.sleep(0.001)

So here we have an infinite loop that for current step sets all pins to low, then sets selected pins to high, increments step number and waits 1 millisecond.

So this code will turn the stepper motor clockwise and if you want to slow it down you just change the number of milliseconds the wait time is set too.

If you want he stepper motor to run in reverse you simply write the steps out in reverse and it will make so the motor starts in it’s final position pin4 and moves backwards.

We’ll save this to the Raspberry Pico and save it under the name main.py which when named this will automatically run the program when the PICA is powered on.

4. Designing photo turn table and printing parts

Next up is designing the turn table base and top plate.
Now for something like this I like to use Tinker CAD it’s a free online 3D modelling software that’s really easy to use if your a hobbyist and even has a small set of tutorial steps to get you up and running.

I wanted the stepper motor to be inset to the base and spin an upper section while the lower part remained stationary. So I started by measuring the stepper motor itself to work out how the base would be designed around it being the centre of the model.

base design

The stepper motors shaft was positioned off centre to the motor I had to make sure it was the centre point, it also needed to sit down into the lower section enough to were the only part sticking out the top was the shaft to attach the table too.

I left enough space under base to fit all the electronic components so they were hidden and could be attached to the underside without being in the way, it also made it a lot cleaner looking and easy to move around.

under base design

Admittedly it did take a few revisions to get it exactly how I wanted it but sometimes when your making something from scratch you have to expect that things won’t always turn out perfect in which case revisions to the design are always going to happen.

Once I had the 3D model complete I saved it as an STL file and sliced it in CURA which I find to be the easiest to use to create a 3D printer file type, transferred it to a micro SD card and printed

cure splice turn table

The two separate pieces on my Ender 3, 3D printer which produces some decent models for the price and all up the printing time was little over 25 hours. Once you have the design dialled in though and your happy with it, the 3D printer pretty much takes care of the rest.

3d printing turn table

5 – Assembly

So we have the PICA set up, the code written, the circuit is built, the parts printed and now it’s time to put it all together

Fit the Stepper motor into the base first, and screw it into place with 2 #4 size 6mm long self tapper screws.

turn table assembly 1

To fit the wires through the channel I removed them from the plug, before you do this make sure to take a picture so you know the order they go back in, then run the wires through the channel running down through the turn table base.

assembly 3

A tip here is to run 1 or 2 wires first and then tape any additional wires to the existing wire that has been run already and pull the rest through.

Now reconnect the wires into the plug one by one making sure to get the orientation right, you shouldn’t be able to pull the wires back through once they are locked in.

assembly 4

Next up mark out were the bearing plate will sit central to the stepper motor spindle and secure it over the top of the stepper motor leaving the spindle sticking out the top for the table to connect to,

assembly 2

Push down the table section onto the shaft and let it sit on the top bearing plate.

Now flip the turn table upside down to start fitting the electrical circuit components inside the base.

Start by fitting the :
breadboard with Pico attached
Fit the 9Volt battery and barrel jack plug connection

assembly 5

Fit 4 spacers and screws to the motor driver board and secure into place next to battery either with blue tac or a hot glue gun for a more permanent job.

assembly 6

Fit the arduino Power module to the other side and tidy up the wiring so that none of it is sticking out below the base, and make sure enough space is left to connect and disconnect the power plug easily into the power module

assembly 7

Once all the electrical parts are secured that’s the assembly done

Changing turn table speed through code

When the barrel jack plug is connected to the power module, it automatically runs through the program and starts spinning the table.

If you need to change the rotation speed, first disconnect the power connector, and jumper wire from pin 1 of the bread board to remove power from the circuit, and plug the PICA back into the computer via the micro usb port.

Open up Thonny, connect to the PICO and open the main.py file to change the time delay of each step in milliseconds.

just a couple numbers higher will slow down the rotation of the stepper motor considerably.

Once you’ve changed the time delay save the file and disconnect the usb cable connection to the pica, plug the jumper wire back to pin 1 on the breadboard and after reconnecting the power cable the table rotations speed should have changed.

Conclusion

Overall it turned out to be a fun project to make and definitely could be upgraded in the future with a more powerful stepper motor, an on/off switch instead of the plug and a few other addons to make it more customizable.

However it serves it’s purpose as a photography turn table and I was surprised just how much weight it could support. For the $4 dollar price tag the PICO is definitely a great addition to the raspberry pi line up and I think will have a lot of applications especially in smaller retro style gaming systems for makers in 2021.

Let me know down in the comments what you plan on making with the PICO I’ll be down there answering any questions.

So that’s it from me, if your interested in making this same project I left a link to the project files below as well as a link to the Raspberry Pi Pica, and everything you need for this one, if you enjoyed this post make sure to leave a comment and consider checking out some of my other tech reviews.

———————-Project Files———————— https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4768052

————————Project Parts————————

PICO Australia https://raspberry.piaustralia.com.au/products/raspberry-pi-pico?src=raspberrypi

United States https://www.canakit.com/raspberry-pi-pico.html?cid=usd&src=raspberrypi

PICO with presoldered header Pins(affiliate link) https://amzn.to/2ZA4PVT

——————–Electrical Parts——————-

(affiliate link) stepper motor and driver: https://amzn.to/2Zwwmry

(affiliate link) jumper leads: https://amzn.to/3bjTM8R

(affiliate link) 9V battery clip: https://amzn.to/3azlW0x

(affiliate link) 9V battery: https://amzn.to/3qEjlYH

breadboard: https://www.jaycar.com.au/mini-breadboard-300-holes/p/PB8832

arduino power module: https://www.jaycar.com.au/arduino-compatible-breadboard-power-module/p/XC4606

————————Project Tools———————— (affiliate link) vernier calipers: https://amzn.to/3qAickX

(affiliate link) 3D printer used: https://amzn.to/3k22vR0

(affiliate link) philips screwdriver: https://amzn.to/3k7h2uP

(affiliate link) hot glue gun: https://amzn.to/3qEjcnZ

(affiliate link) blue tack: https://amzn.to/3axjojs

————————3D print on demand services————-

i.Materialise: https://i.materialise.com/

Shapeways: https://www.shapeways.com/

Sculpteo: https://www.sculpteo.com/en/

—————–Hardware————————

(affiliate link) philips #4 6mm long screws https://amzn.to/2NFMWlW

(affiliate link) M3x10 screw: https://amzn.to/3k3WxiF

(affiliate link) M3x 10 threaded space: https://amzn.to/2M82Yon

(affiliate link) Lazy suzan bearing: https://amzn.to/2ZxFrQF

 

Aputure MC Review: Best portable budget LED light?

aputure mc video light

The Aputure MC is a super compact RGB light with a heap of really nice features for portable lighting on the fly.

 

I’ve used this one a bunch over the last few videos and found it to be a great option to set up quickly for product lighting or  if you need colour accuracy when your setting up scene lighting this is a great option.

 

It’s currently $150 dollars which I think is value for money considering the features Aputure has packed into this one so lets take a look at what it comes with.

 

aputure mc carry bag

What’s Included

 

Inside the box you get:

this little pouch to keep it protected with a clip attached to it, makes it easy to clip attach to your backpack or on a belt loop

a diffuser

USB C to USB A cable

some sticky velcro pads for attaching to light shades for example

aputure mc hot shoe mount

a hot shoe mount to attach it to the top of your camera for interview style video or photography.

 

aputure mc

Build Quality

The build quality feels quite premium on this one with the buttons and controls being responsive, the body is made from a combination of aluminium and plastic with of course these super strong magnets on the back, theres also this red accent around the outside of the led panel which looks really nice too. 

aputure mc oled screen

 

 

The OLED screen is bright enough for you to easily see what settings its on everything is reasonably spaced apart, which makes it easier to read.

 

The MCs size is a little larger than a credit card and about a fingers width wide, making it a great choice if your looking for a small form factor light.

 

What it is

The MC has a brightness rating of 400Lux and has full HUE, saturation and intensity control meaning you have the power to reproduce any color you want. 

aputure mc colour wheel

There is 3 main lighting modes HSI, CCT, and FX. HSI is for your colours, CCT gives you control over a white light with a bicolour range of 3200K to 6500k and FX is a set of 9 built in lighting effects which can come in handy for a whole range of movie style scenes.

 

Theres Faulty bulb

cop car, 

paparazzi, 

Tv

lightning, 

fire 

 

Also, magnets! These two on the back are very strong they stick to anything that’s metal they’re even strong enough to hang off a wall stud if you can find one which makes it a very versatile little light for quick run and gun type setups.

aputure mc magnets

They’re strong enough to were you don’t feel like the lights going to easily come unstuck even if the surface it’s mounted to is mobile.

Speaking of being mobile it makes a great on camera light to use when your vlogging, easily  bright enough to use as a key light for those purposes or even as an extra source of light for low light video or photography.

 

Charging

 

So what about charging, well there is two ways to charge this one you can use the supplied USB C cable port to plug in which takes 2 hours for a full charge.

There’s also wireless charging so it will work on one of those wireless charge pads but won’t charge up as quickly, taking a little longer at 3.5 hours.

aputure mc charging

There is also the option to plug this light into a power bank and run it for as long as the power banks battery has power which makes battery life a non issue,

 

One thing I did notice when running this light off a power bank though is that the light will heat up quite substantially but if your not holding onto it and have it mounted instead that’s not really an issue but something to keep in mind.

 

The shorter USBC cable you use the better and if you want maximum light output while using a power bank it’s output should at least be 5V 2Amps to ensure you both charge the internal battery of the MC and keep it so that it can retain a 100% light output. 

 

Anything less than 2Amps of output from the power source your connected to will affect the lights maximum output by 20% increments all the way down to 0% depending on the power source, just stick to the recommended 5v 2amps and you shouldn’t have any issues

App

Next up is the Sidus app which allows you to have complete control over the light wirelessly, so you can change the HUE, saturation, Brightness and turn on the different effects as well. 

 

I found this really useful if you’ve got the light setup in a tricky spot and can’t easily get to the manual controls. 

 

There’s also this neat colour picker feature that makes it so you can colour match any image you point your phones camera to. You simply take a picture of your subject and the light will match up to the colour instantly and re-create it illuminated through the light and all you have to decide is how bright you want it.

 

And from what I’ve experienced, its quite accurate which is a big time saver, so you don’t have to sit there trying to get the light colour right instead it’s so much easier.

 

The MC when paired with other lights uses a mesh network so that each new light acts like a signal booster, effectively increasing the strength of the network with each light thats added.

 

So as long as your lights are within 80 metres of one another you can setup a range of lights up to 400 metres away and still be able to change each of the lights settings.

 

MC kits

The MC can also be purchased in a travel kit of 4 or a production kit of 12 and the case itself has wireless charger pads built in so you don’t have to deal with a bunch of cables running everywhere.

picture credit: Aputure website

On the side of the MC are manual controls which included a control wheel that also acts as a button when pressed in to navigate through the lights menu settings

 

Beside that is the on/off switch along with a USB C port for charging.

Underneath the light is a ¼ inch 20 thread for mounting to tripods or camera rigs easily as well.

On top is an OLED display that lets you know the battery level, blutooth connection and mode and adjustment levels of the light.

Manual Controls

A long press in of the control wheel will bring you to a main menu where you can select which mode you want the light to be in.

 

For example if you select HSI it will then give you options to change the levels of intensity, HUE, and saturation by using the control wheel and to change between the three you simply press the control wheel in once.

Press and hold the wheel once more to return to the main menu and next up is FX.

This allows you to select between 9 different special effects, including Fire, Cop car, pulsing, Party, Lightning, TV, Faulty Bulb, Fireworks, or Paparazzi.

 

BT makes it so you can reset the Bluetooth connection if your having trouble seeing it on your smartphone or need to un pair it from a group of lights to use with a different setup which is neat.

 

CCT is a white online light where you can change the colour temp from 3200k to 6500K press the button again to switch to the intensity level, I like how you can fine tune the intensity by 1% increments I know it’s not the case for other LED lights of this size and cost to be able to get such a fine adjustment which is a real benefit of the MC, you know sometimes you just want a very dimmly lit light in a background that isn’t too over bearing.

 

Conclusion

So to recap, wireless charging, wireless control, well designed app, super bright for the size, portable, and magnetic mounting, makes this one a very versatile light and well worth picking up if your a content creator 

 

That’s everything from me, if  guys are interested in picking one of these up there will be a link down below.

 

If you enjoyed this post make sure to leave a comment down below and consider checking out some of the other reviews!

 

Aputure MC

US (affiliate link) https://amzn.to/39Je2Bh

AU (affiliate link) https://amzn.to/3ayRxhG