How To: Building A Light Table Under $80

As a designer, Stefan Fahrngruber of SFA understands how nice it is to have a light table. I can attest to how nice they are when picking out tiny vinyl cut shapes after plotting. Unfortunately, light tables can be hard to come by inexpensively, and difficult to make. Sure, you can put a light under a glass table, but it doesn’t always work well, the light isn’t distributed evenly, and can still be expensive if you don’t already own a glass table.

Stefan designed a light table that you can make for under $80 using standard decorative LED strips. The idea is to arrange them in a small grid which gives off even lighting while also keeping the construction of the table lightweight. You’ll also have the ability to dim the lights and change the colors.


The table is made with an A3 tempered glass cutting mat, size 16.5″ x 11.7″.  Stefan writes that you’ll also need:

-LED strip approximately 10 feet long. Make sure to pick one which generates the light out of one LED surface, really cheap ones use three separate LED’s to mix the light, which doesn’t work at close distances. Also make sure the control unit of the LED strip fits in the box, and the strip is able to be arranged to fit inside your box.

-5 foot LED strip connection wire (those are special wires with four color coded lines in the right distance, you can also buy ready made ones but they are rather expensive)

-2m of wooden rectangular profile in 5x30mm and 5x35mm (actually you can go crazy on the box, I tried to build it as slim and light as possible)

-One aluminum plate 2.5mm thick, 490x310mm (the stronger the plate the better the heat is derived, this has to be metal, believe me!)

-One milky acrylic glass plate (5mm strong, 450x300mm) make sure to plan a gap so the glass falls in place easy. Make the glass at least 5mm so it can support your weight while drawing on it. Thicker is an option, it will make the light more diffused but also weakens the brightness.

-Glue or paste to fix the wooden profiles (fitting the edges with a mitre is nice but more advanced, up to you)

-Small screws to fix the baseplate to the frame.

-Four rubber feet

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Star Wars Pod Racing, Using Drones

If you thought just flying a drone was challenging, try racing them through a wooded area

If you thought just flying a drone was challenging, try racing them through a wooded area

Flying drones such as hexacopters or even quadcopters can be a challenge but imagine the skill needed to fly those drones through obstacles and it becomes a completely new ballgame. Crashing those drones can be devastating considering most of them run a few hundred bucks or more and are designed as put-together kits almost like professional RC vehicles.

Knowing the risks associated with flying through obstacles, some professional drone enthusiasts from the Airgonay club in the French Alps designed a three-lap track to race drones through. It’s almost reminiscent of the pod racing scene in Star Wars Episode I or better yet the scene in Episode VI with the speeders racing on the moon of Endor.

In a recently released video, the enthusiasts must complete three laps on their challenging course while dodging trees and other drones without crashing. Most of the racers use VR/AR headsets in conjunction with a camera mounted to their drones to get a first person view while flying. The course is clearly marked in terms of direction so everyone knows which direction to fly through so the chance to flying against traffic is minimal.

Most accidents were minor during the race with damage limited to a few broken rotor blades but nothing catastrophic. The club hopes to outfit their drones with sensors in order to simulate laser blasts against other competitors sometime in the near future, giving the races a more sci-fi aspect. See more on Airgonay’s Facebook page.


A Truly 3D Film


Using a FormLabs Form 1 3D printer, artist Julien Maire has created a 3D-printed, truly 3D movie. And no need for those special 3D glasses, either.

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The artist’s new film Men At Work uses stereolithography, an additive manufacturing that produces one layer at a time by curing photo-reactive resin with a laser. This film is composed of the 85 small 3D-printed figures (a man in different stages of digging a hole) that pass through a slide projector, to make the film, which is about a minute long. By using the 3D models, depth of field is created, and images are projected that truly look three dimensional. Maire is planning to make a longer film using this process, but for now, Men At Work can be played on an infinite loop since it starts with the man appearing and ends with him giving up his work and disappearing into the background.

Julia Christensen’s Upcycled iPhone Art Project


Got a new iPhone? Have you thought about what you’ll do with your old phone? Media artist Julia Christensen is interested in what happens to pieces of technology when we’re done with them, so she made a fascinating work called BURNOUTS from upcycled iPhones. The work consists of donated iPhones that Christensen installed in 3D printed containers, featuring mirrors and lenses from discarded overhead projectors, in order to cast animated images of retired star constellations upwards onto a ceiling.

Just like the constellations illustrated in her work, Christensen connects the dots between our relationships to old technologies to create a new picture of how we understand them. Not only were these constellations edited from star charts due to increasing light pollution from Earth, but they were all constellations named for antiquated technologies, just like old phones and overhead projectors used to emit illuminated images of them.

The projection of these five constellations is a poetic metaphor for the technology producing the image––just as the constellations are still there and yet no longer in use, so are our own outdated gadgets.

Although we clearly have a long way to go toward improving how we deal with electronic waste, Christensen’s work is a stunning demonstration of the tremendous potential for creative expression using technologies that we might otherwise throw away. So, if you’re looking for a new project (or a new projector), you might want to think twice before you get rid of that old phone!

[via prothetic knowledge]

Packing for Eclipse Season


Animation of this week's lunar eclipse. Image by Tomruen via

This week’s eclipse, anim. by Tomruen /

Looking for pointers to protect your pupils before the partial solar eclipse? Read on.

The lunar eclipse Wednesday morning kicks off a series of blood moons, just in time to get in the Halloween spirit. Set your alarm clocks: you have to get up before the crack of dawn to witness this extraterrestrial marvel.


But then…. when the Moon swings around to the other side of the Earth in a little less than two weeks, most of the United States (and Mexico) get a peek at a partial solar eclipse on Thursday, October 23rd! (Sorry, New England! Looks like you’ll miss it.)

I have such fond memories of the last partial solar eclipse in my region, which peaked as we packed up at the end of Maker Faire Bay Area 2012. The sun snuck behind the moon, and the scene dimmed and was infused with the magic of this rare moment. Through every tiny hole, spooky crescent projections appeared. Thousands of natural apertures made by overlapping leaves created especially delightful shadows, as on the outer walls of Paleotool’s Vardo caravan trailer, pictured below.


LRgogglesThose final few moments of the event coincided with a partial solar eclipse viewable in San Mateo. Joy of joys, fabulous Maker Club Love & Rockets, far more prepared for this great coincidence of Makers and sunworshippers than I was, handed me a pair of paperboard and plastic solar viewing glasses that I continue to cherish and share with others. Love & Rockets’ Natalie van Valkenberg took a great picture of the eclipse through her pair of glasses, right. You can buy five-packs of these to get your whole neighborhood looking up at the sky with you on October 23rd.

LReclipse52012I pulled these glasses out for the Transit of Venus a short while after Maker Faire, and I brought them to my sons’ preschool so they could see the event too. I figured four-year-olds aren’t so good at holding them without accidentally taking them off and looking at the sun. (Natalie’s daughter, left, knows what she’s doing.)

So, worried that the silly kiddos wouldn’t pay heed to the instructions, I built something of a welding helmet made out of a box and the glasses. I made a hole in a box and taped the glasses inside the box. The kids put the box around their heads. Below, you’ll find a quick step-by-step of my eclipse glasses box, but now that I think about it it would probably work just as well by just attaching them in the middle of a much larger piece of cardboard. Little kids just have such a hard time keeping their fragile eyes covered since those viewing glasses are so small. I’d be eager to see others’ ideas!

eclipsebox-step1  eclipsebox-step2  eclipsebox-step3  eclipsebox-step4  eclipsebox-step5

I also brought along a pair of binoculars to use NOT to look at the sun directly but to use to project an image of the venutian eclipse onto a large white paper (which worked quite well, even if the preschool teacher mistook the image of the sun as Venus itself, rather than understanding the dot was the faraway planet. Sigh. Just think of the kids‘ misconceptions I fostered that day!)

LRwillseclipse52012You can use welding goggles to view an eclipse as long as you are certain they are rated 15 or higher.

But you don’t need to use fancy equipment to play with and witness this beautiful moment. All you need is a tiny hole. Take a piece of opaque board or foil to project the image of the obscured sun, pinhole-style, onto a flat, white surface the right distance away. Forget your hole at home? You can even make a tiny aperture with a curled finger or fist (as Will of Maker Club Love & Rockets showed us, right), or criss-cross your hands to create a matrix of moonshadows, as our friends at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories demonstrated in 2012, below.


These four sites offer some excellent tips for packing your sun-viewing gear. Click around to start your plan for constructing your tools for seeing this phenomenon (without looking at the sun–so tricky!)

We’ve given you fair warning to build your gear! In exchange for this cosmic courtesy, we ask you to please take photos and video of what you make and how you make it and how it worked so that we can populate Make: with lots of great tips for ecliptical apparati ahead of the next solar eclipses. (I’m “totally” making my plans for a visit to Kentucky/Tennessee in August 2017 right now!)

Add links to your favorite eclipse-viewing tools and your own project write-ups in the comments below.

Drones Doing Good

Timothy Reuter, Founder Drone User Group NetworkPhoto: Andrew Terranova

Timothy Reuter, Founder of the Drone User Group Network, speaks with passion about incorporating social responsibility into the use of personal drones.Photo: Andrew Terranova

We’re Not Evil, We’re Just Flown That Way

Timothy Reuter started the DC Area Drone User Group to find people to teach him about flying drones. It wasn’t long, however, before Timothy and other members of the group began to think about the negative connotation the word “drone” was getting in the press, and the potential for the positive impact personal drones could have for society.

So when Timothy created the Drone User Group Network (DUGN), encouraging other regional groups of drone users to join a larger network, the organization was founded on the principle that personal use of drone technology could (and should) be done for the benefit of humanity.


The DUGN established the Drone Social Innovation Award to provide funding for the best use of low cost drone technology for a socially beneficial purpose. The prize garnered financial backing from NEXA Capital Partners and the UAS America Fund. Entries were limited to spending less than $3,000 on their drones, and had to document the positive social impact of their project in a video.

Five finalists were selected, and after a very close decision the $10,000 raised for the prize was split between two groups.

The Winners

Detecting Land Mines

CAT UAV offers aerial observation services using drones. CAT UAV’s project captures imagery of suspected mine fields. Their proprietary post-processing of the images reveals the precise location of mines.

This method of detection is much safer and more humane than using animals, and cheaper and less destructive than using ground based robots. It also has the potential to save thousands of lives in countries where un-exploded mines are common. Hard to argue against the social benefits of that.

Helping Disaster Victims

Charles “Chuck” Devaney studied geography and cartography at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He had experimented with using kites to collect aerial data for mapping, but later partnered with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, David Hummer, to build an aerial drone for this purpose. David focused on making a usable drone for about $2,000, while Chuck developed methods to stitch together the aerial imagery and perform analysis.

Linking the World (LTW) is an international organization focused on providing humanitarian aid in over 40 countries. Chuck acts as director for their UAV program. He has also worked with other humanitarian organizations to use drone photography to aid disaster relief efforts, surveying typhoon damage in the Philippines.

Other Finalists

Collecting Whale Snot

Yep… whale snot. Ocean Alliance partnered with Olin College of Engineering‘s robotics lab to create what they affectionately call Snot Bot. Snot Bot is a ruggedized quadcopter that flies over a whale and collects samples spewed from a whale’s blowhole. Though it sounds weird, marine biologists can analyze the samples for all sorts of things, from disease, to stress levels, to genetics.

When a whale surfaces it expels mucus and carbon dioxide from its blowhole. An operator flies Snot Bot over a whale to collect this material without stressing the animal. Ocean Alliance uses data collected from whales to help inform educators and policy makers on the health of our oceans.

Expanding Perspective for Kids with Autism

Kids on the autistic spectrum tend to have difficulty understanding the perspective of other people, which is a huge barrier to social interaction. Paul Braun is giving these kids a chance to see the world through a different perspective by Taking Autism to the Sky.

The kids in Paul’s program participate in a project to build a hexacopter, learning technical skills and teamwork. They learn to fly, plan their flight and shoot high definition aerial video. Long term Paul hopes to help the boys and girls in this program learn skills that will help them find employment.

Monitoring Political Protests

The Drone Lab at Central European University’s School of Public Policy set out to find ways drones could be used as a benefit to society. Students under Professor Choi-Fitzpatrick have come up with a methodology for estimating the size of crowds using aerial drone photography. They developed safety protocols, defined measurement techniques, and then used a drone to verify their methods.

The school’s new Drone Lab is not stopping there. They plan to continue to develop their concepts for using drones for the public good, and become a European leader for the civil use of drones.

Steven Klein Discusses Print The Legend, Screening at MakerCon

Last night at MakerCon we had a chance to watch a screening of Print the Legend, a documentary that covers the experiences and growth of several startups in the 3D printing industry. The overwhelming consensus was that this was a very enthralling and captivating story. Luckily you’ll be able to watch it soon as it will be available on Netflix starting September 26th.

Before the screening I talked a bit with Steven Klein, the producer of the documentary. He shares a bit of the thoughts behind their process as well as their experiences in sharing a story that touches so many of us in the Maker Community.

Movie Making from Above

Movie Making from above!

I’m writing this article because I couldn’t easily find any information on the web prior to my departure to Tuscany. I’ve been flying multirotors for some time now and I have encountered a few elements not mentioned anywhere else — to my knowledge. I hope you will find that this info makes filming nice video the primary thing, and fighting with technology secondary.

To create this movie I was flying Phantom 2 with Zenmuse H3-3D, GoPro 3 black and an FPV of my choice (details below).



(get there, and from there)

Pack Yourself To make the puppet-of-mine survive the heavy-duty tossing at the airport I bought a special case for traveling. It came with the foam pre-cut to fit the Phantom 2 with everything included, so I only needed to make a small extra hole for the monitor handle to fit it in without disassembling. You can also buy such cases without pre-cut holes and fit whatever UAV you own. All of the components from the below list fit into the case and survived flights and travel without damage. However — the case’s airplane-ready configuration makes your UAV pre-filming procedure longer than it needs to be. To fit everything you have to unscrew the monitor, antennas, and take all the batteries out. I suggest unpacking it when you get to your destination, and repack it for short trips, leaving chargers and assembling antennas and such. My experience also made me keep the RC controller with the monitor and antennas as a second piece (for trips I had a case with the Phantom, and tools, batteries, and a RC controller in a separate bag, this is due to the unexpected situation I had — read below).

Check List: – Multirotor with gimbal, and FPV transmitter installed (in my case Zenmuse H3-3D, ImmersionRC 600mw) – RC controller with handle for monitor (if you use monitor) – Monitor and FPV receiver (Black Pearl 7″ in my case), or  FPV goggles – Necessary antennas – Laptop with external drive for storing and backup of your footage – Spare props for your drone – Zip-ties and tape for emergency fixing – Batteries for: your multirotor 2 pcs, your RC controller 3 sets or more, your FPV ground station 2 pcs – Chargers for: UAV batteries, monitor batteries, laptop – Multitool – Traveling case – GoPro sun shade – Case lock – Mini USB — USB cable and micro USB — USB cable (for plugging the Phantom and GoPro to your laptop)

the way i carry

Insurance The drone with camera, gimbal, monitor, and FPV becomes a pretty expensive thing. You would be upset if you got it stolen on the plane or lost during flights, so — buy insurance. I did, and it cost me around 25€. The one thing to know is that there is different insurance for professional equipment versus amateur. I purchased the amateur since I wasn’t going to make the video as a professional job. (Fortunately I didn’t use it.:)

Law Always check the latest laws and regulations regarding flying UAVs in the country of your destination before you go. Please bear in mind also that we are living in a time where those regulations are being written as we speak, so — you need the most current information. The easiest way is to check on some local UAV amateur forum — just start a topic and ask in English. From my experience, you will not wait long for the response.

Airplane This is the tricky part. If you start reading about how you should pack your UAV for taking it on the airplane you will get a headache. Some regulations (UE) say that you should have your LiPo batteries with your carry-on but on the other hand it’s hard to translate to a non-English speaking guard what you carry these double 5200mha batteries for if you leave your drone as the registered luggage — I suggest you call your airlines prior to the flight and just ask them how you should pack. I did and they said to go with everything packed in the registered luggage with batteries included. All of the batteries were discharged and disassembled from the equipment. I found out that easyJet (that was the company I was flying with) allows for some oversized carry-on luggage and my case would fit the dimensions, but since I had a multitool and other sharp things I decided not to go this way. My case with everything inside was 9 kilograms. Rest assured that you will be checked with special attention. I had to go to the luggage checking room, open the case, tell security what it was and let the case go through a scanner several times. Security was very nice but they just didn’t know what it was and so … better safe than sorry, go to the airport with some extra time ahead knowing that you might get special treatment.



(and some ways I’ve come around them)

Tourist Attraction UAVs are VERY interesting to people. Whenever you pop open that black case, YOU will become the greatest tourist attraction around (I was more interesting to some than the leaning Pisa tower). This is understandable and you should not fear those guys – if you saw it for the first time, wouldn’t you come closer? Just remember that anybody closer to the starting/landing place than 3m when the UAV is on, is in danger — it is a flying lawnmower in the end! Kids will come and touch it so before you land tell them that it’s dangerous and that you will let them come closer when the engines are off. People will try to see what you have on monitor during flight and you will feel them on your back.

When flying you are very much exposed to pickpockets — the best idea is to leave every important tech-gadget with your wallet inside the case before you take off, or ask your friend to watch over you and your belongings — you can’t be here and up there at once! People will try to talk to you when you fly. When it happens instruct them that you will talk, when you land. If anyone has some problems with you flying, ask your colleague to handle him/her until you land: “Sorry sir, but my friend is a pilot right now and it’s dangerous to distract him, please tell me what’s the issue and when he lands you might talk.” One last thing is that phone calls in your pocket are very annoying when your mind is 400 meters away. :)

My sis dlying

Batteries You have 4 battery-powered gadgets on, at the same time. This means that in order to fly safely you have to check everything twice before you take off. You should also have spare batteries charged at all occasions. I put extra care into the batteries of my monitor. The shot of the leaning Pisa tower in the short film was done — without FPV. Why? Because when I got up and found the right place to start the real footage — batteries in my monitor said “Sorry dude, we’re out” and the screen went blank. Also I should say that the drone was exactly at the sun position as seen from where I was standing. What saved the day was the Home Lock Intelligent Orientation System — this comes in with NAZA inside Phantom 2 but I think can be implemented into other UAVs. This is a very handy safety switch to have with you for any occasion but remember — if you own a Phantom 2, you have it on your RC controller but it doesn’t mean you actually have it. In order to use it you need to enable it with your PC. The procedure can be found here:

The RC controller uses 4 AA batteries and you don’t want to swap those with rechargeable. The rechargeable batteries have supposedly a lower starting voltage than the disposable ones and so … last much shorter. From my experience you can make about 6-10 flights (15 min each) on the buy-use-throw away batteries and about 2-3 on the rechargeable. I might have mixed something up with those rechargeable but that was my experience anyway.

Vision Loss Since the FPV system is a live feed from your camera through radio frequencies — you will encounter short video downlink problems. Two factors can make this situation worse. The first is your antenna location. My antenna is mounted in the back of the UAV (behind Zenmuse gimbal), which makes my connection much weaker when the multirotor is facing the home position. It helps to bend the cloverleaf to the ground but just slightly. The second situation in which I face weaker video signal is when the Phantom is directly above home position. I think this must have something to do with the cloverleaf structure but, it’s just a hunch.

My Flight Procedure: Make the pre-flight procedure as easy as possible: I did a whole battery flight without the cloverleaf antenna attached to the UAV transmitter and it didn’t burn! After this situation I decided that I will not disassemble the thing anymore (except for airline transportation). I decided to carry with me my fully assembled Phantom in a case and the RC controller with monitor and antennas attached as a separate thing. Not handy, but safer since your flight procedure is easier and consists of pushing buttons only and no assembly whatsoever.

  1. RC controller – on
  2. GoPro – on
  3. GoPro – record on
  4. Phantom – on
  5. Monitor – on
  6. Wait for at least 7 satellites
  7. Take off straight into the air (leave the right stick until you gain altitude)
  8. Shoot the goddamn footage
  9. Landing (I land based on eye-sight not the monitor)
  10. Phantom – off
  11. GoPro – record off
  12. GoPro – off
  13. Monitor – off
  14. RC controller – off

If you keep to this procedure you will omit two problems. One is that you will not fight with the gimbal to switch the camera on (you push the button, gimbal tries to stabilize you pushing the button — hilarious, but might bring damage to the gimbal). The second is that you will not have a problem I had often with take-offs: I had a pretty close wall to the place where I had my Phantom on the ground. The obvious stress made me think this way: ” OK, I will take-off and immediately fly far from this wall.” In theory it works but in reality, there is a moment where the Phantom doesn’t start yet but is already weightless. This is in fact the most dangerous moment — wind might blow the Phantom and if you push the right stick in this moment you might make it fall from the platform. If you do start from land you might make the UAV “drift” this way. What I suggest is to start from places in which you actually can start straight up. When you gain the altitude you have the Phantom stabilize itself and so you are safe with the right stick.

Gimbal Flaws The three-axis gimbals make the footage smooth as can be — period. Unfortunately it also has its own flaws that you should be aware of. One of these problems is the “orbit lag.” This flaw appears when you try to turn your UAV very slowly around its z-axis (z being the up/down axis). The gimbal counteracts moves in three axes up to a max level after which it moves — technical max. This means that when you make a very gentle panorama — the gimbal at first counteracts this move — you see no movement on-screen. If you see no movement the first reaction is “I pushed the handle too gently and the Phantom doesn’t get it, I need to push more.” Then the panorama becomes rapid. To make it smooth, just start gently and keep it that way even though you see no movement on the screen. The gimbal after a second or two will reach its maximum on this axis and the panorama will start on your screen too.

The second glitch that you might encounter is the one connected to high-speed flying. When you try to make a fast fly through to the front it might happen that all of a sudden you will see … The leg of your UAV (if it has one). It looks as if the gimbal needed to find the maximum, like when it is being powered on. One of my friends told me that this might be due to the power drain that the Phantom is putting on the battery. The gimbal just does not have enough power and goes crazy. The way to omit this problem is – don’t fly too fast (the shot in my video where I fly above a tree covered hill is cut in that end due to this glitch).

A very important thing that helped me a lot in doing the final shot was turning the gain on the tilt control of the gimbal waaaaay down. When you set it to 5-10, the gimbal will respond much more liquidly and more soft.


(some guides on how to make a decent one)

To be honest, flying modern UAVs like DJI Phantom 2 is so easy that all you need is — imagination to have fun up there. In fact when you get up there and leave all the controls — you get a beautiful picture. Unfortunately a video consists of “moving pictures” and so you’ve got to have a plan on what you will try to do with this picture. The rule of thumb is — if you see action in your picture (the car driving on a road or birds taking off from a tower) you can keep Phantom steady, but when there is no action — make smooth camera movement. Also when you want a good shot based on camera motion, from my experience I would say that the lower/closer you are the more dramatic and interesting the shot will be. You might crash and this is why you see no dramatic shots in my movie but I’m sure when I get to know my Phantom better I will try to do those low flybys.

One thing you should be informed about is that if you face the sun with your GoPro on a Phantom you might encounter flickering effect in your footage. This happens due to the propellers casting shadow onto the lens. You can fight it with a sunshade like I do (I’ve redesigned one available online and printed it on our 3D printer) but be informed that this effect will still happen (just a little less frequently). My sunshade is designed to be used with 2.7K settings on GoPro and in this mode you only get “wide” FOV. If you intend to us as a default 1080p, then you can pick a much longer sunshade designed for “medium” mode, which apparently blocks all of the shadows caused by propellers.

When shooting a video there are some key factors to remember now unless you want to get angry while editing: 1. You shouldn’t cut together two shots with similar camera movement and — make different takes: orbits, side to side, upupandaway, runner perspective low fly, and so on. 2. Try to have in your shot at least two different elements being a foreground and background. This gives much better look to your shot and brings the 3D effect. 3. Make the shot longer than you think. We often watch the thing through an FPV system and you “see” the movie through it. That’s great but don’t make cuts this way. Enable yourself to make that decision during editing and so … make the shot longer than you feel it should be. 4. When shooting footage forget that there is post production available to you. Try to make smooth, stable, and beautiful pictures on the spot. This way further down the line you will be able to focus on polishing the thing up and not fixing mistakes. In most cases you can only do minor bug repairs — in order to not destroy the quality of the footage. 5. Make more than one shot in one place. This is for storytelling in a movie. You need at least three shots from one place to tell the story. And I mean three GOOD shots. Rule of thumb — try to get six nice (thought through) shots at one place that you want to show in your video. I had about 150 minutes of footage to edit from. About 4-5 locations didn’t make it to the edit due to the fact I had too few nice-enough shots. 6. Train your shots. Very helpful thing is something that I call “muscle memory.” When I came with the idea of the shot of my father jumping to the pool and the UAV flying out of the place, the first thing I did was get the Phantom above that pool and try the shot. After about four tries I had a feel of the shot in my hands. Then I invited “the actor” to the stage and focused on the synchronization with him. I made three doubles with him and so … You see the effect in the video. 7. What quality to pick on the GoPro if you use one? I did the whole movie (except the last shot which was in 1080p 50fps) in 2.7K 25fps. Why? I thought that this will help me with stabilizing and still keeping the 1080 after cropping, but … This was not the case. The moment I saw what happens if you apply just a slight sharpening effect on 2.7K and then downgrade the picture to Full HD — it just made the magic happen. Protune on of course.


Flying multirotors is a very rewarding thing itself. While doing it you feel like playing a PC game and later on while editing you appreciate the picture quality it gives. On the other hand – you just need to get used to it. There are many minor problems you might encounter that are very easy to resolve but can bring frustration when you face them the first time. I hope that my not-that-short article will help you by taking some of that frustration out of the way, leaving space for pure creativity in movie making. Happy flying and remember — on YouTube the biggest set of videos with “drones” are … crash compilations! Don’t make another one:). Take care.

Barn Door tracker built with Lego Technic for Entry-Level Astrophotography

Brian Carter’s Barn Door Tracker was designed primarily with Lego parts

Brian Carter’s Barn Door Tracker was designed primarily with Lego parts

Ever wonder how photographers grab those awesome time-lapse images of the night sky? Some use a device known as a Barn Door tracker (AKA Haig or Scotch mount), which cancels out the diurnal motion of the Earth (fancy term for compensating for the Earth’s rotation). Most barn door trackers are made using two pieces of wood to form a hinge, with the bottom piece used to mount on a tripod and the top for mounting the camera on, which is aligned with the celestial pole.

The boards are driven together or apart at a constant rate to compensate for the Earth’s rotation. Wood is surely functional but using Legos for a barn door tracker is better, which is what Brian Carter did when designing his camera platform. Brian designed his Barn Door Tracker using unmodified beams and axels from a Lego Technic set to form the device’s platforms. The device features a hand crank to articulate the two platforms, which can also be outfitted with a motorized version Brian designed using a Lego Mindstorms EV3 brick and motor that turns a series of gears. See more of Brian Carter’s creation at his notebook.

Lego’s EV3 brick powers Brian’s motorized crank

Lego’s EV3 brick powers Brian’s motorized crank