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New Electronics for the CP-16


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#1 Michael Collier

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 09:17 PM

Just a heads up....

As a side project/personal project I am building all new electronics for the CP-16. The board (finally) is working properly, crystal sync at any speed, and I am getting it ready for production for anyone who would want to upgrade their CP with modern electronics.

Since this is still in the prototype phase, I wanted to solicit CP users for any features they would like to see in the unit. So far I have the following design goals, most of which are proven working in the prototype:

2-64fps crystal sync in 1fps incriments, along with 29.97 and perhaps 23.976 (yes 64, whitehouse has assured me the camera can do it safely, it just needs to be driven to that speed by the electronics)

128fps for limited run times (working with whitehouse to figure out just how long is safe, if at all. Its theoretical at this point)

LCD that reads: Fps, runtime (mm:ss), footage counter (with selectable load selection in 5ft incriments, so the film light still works with short ends)

Battery meter that is always displayed in LCD, rather than the analog one that only reads when the button is depressed.)

EXT control interface, so an aftermarket intervelometer or fps ramp control can interface with the control board.


When finished there will be no old electronics parts driving the camera, so reliability should be improved. As I found out when the board fries on your CP, the only option usually is to replace it with an OEM one from the 70's for $600, with the same inherent problems.

This will be built with modern microcontroller technology, and it will be rock solid (no red-like build 57s, though it will be reprogrammable should some new requirement be necessary.

I am hoping to have these babies ready for sale by the end of the year, unless I get a swarm of shoots last minute. Upgrades will likely be done at whitehouse, its not likely to be something someone can install on their own (not if I am going to provide a warranty that is)

so, is there anything I am missing here, anything you would want in the board that addresses a specific need you have? Seems this can be relatively simple, but before I go into final testing and lock the hardware/software, I'd like any feedback (even if its on mundane details...color of the paint, etc)

Or just yell if this interests you....or if you think its dumb and a waste of time


(oh another shout, these might be available as an aftermarket upgrade to any other crystal sync motor. it takes very little to re-purpose it for a different camera. So if you have a camera in mind, let me know and I will look into it.)
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#2 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 10:15 PM

Hi Michael,

Sounds all very interesting. Are you retaining the same motor or exchanging that too?

Cheers,
Jean-Louis
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:21 PM

Yes, same the original motor and the tiny board that holds the feedback circuits (the LED and receiver that sandwiches the disc with 10 holes) will remain the original. The tiny board that holds the LEDs that display sync warning, film warning and battery warning will be original. Every other board will be new, including power conditioning board.
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#4 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 07:49 AM

Just a heads up....

As a side project/personal project I am building all new electronics for the CP-16. The board (finally) is working properly, crystal sync at any speed, and I am getting it ready for production for anyone who would want to upgrade their CP with modern electronics.


Good project.
I hope you have experience at create of electronic controllers with PID control.

If the any body need upgrade of electrpnics of CP-16 camera or other cameras now, We can propose of a few versions of real microprocessor controllers of crystal sync speeds from versions with fixed crystal sync speeds up to versions with speed synthesizer 5-50 fps step 0.001 fps, time lapse, film counter and remote control functions.

The many filmmakers use of Konvas and Kinor cameras with our controllers.

I will be glad to compare of your controllers.
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#5 Robert Hughes

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 01:25 PM

Great idea - I'd be interested (if ever I could get the scratch to update my CP16R). Next idea, an in-camera color video tap.
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#6 Max Well

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 03:54 AM

I love this idea! I just am just about to do an ultra16 mod on my cp-16r. It would be great to be able to do more over/undercrank and timelapse.

A video sync connection would be a welcome addition, though might not be worth the extra cost. Built-in intervalometer capabilities would be great. Keep us posted!

Max
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#7 John King

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 05:10 AM

Hello Michael,

I would be very interested in the upgrade for my CP-16R! Rather than a video tap, I think something along the lines of improved coatings in the viewfinder optics to make the picture even brighter. I know hunting scopes that have light intensifying coatings that make them exceptionally brighter than some viewfinders (ie. 13x) I have looked through, and was wondering if anyone ever considered looking into the stuff they use. But a brighter viewfinder is a plus, even over a video tap in my humble estimation.

Thanks and God Bless!

Mark King
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#8 Matt Pacini

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 01:34 AM

One selling point would be to list how much lighter is its than the original electronics (assuming it is, and I hope so!).

How is this project coming along, and do you have any idea what the cost would be?

I have two CP16R/A's, & I do get a bit nervous thinking what would happen if one died. (Nice having two though!)

Matt Pacini
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#9 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 09:13 AM

One selling point would be to list how much lighter is its than the original electronics (assuming it is, and I hope so!).

How is this project coming along, and do you have any idea what the cost would be?

I have two CP16R/A's, & I do get a bit nervous thinking what would happen if one died. (Nice having two though!)

Matt Pacini


You wish upgrade of elecronics of CP-16R.
I can propose of proved design of crystal sync speed controllers.
I install of crystal sync speed controllers at russian Konvas, Kinor cameras many years.
From minimum configuratin - 10 crystal sync speeds up to maximum configuration milti crystal sync speed synthesizer with film counter and LCD display.
The technical detailed by PM. ( olex.camera@gmail.com)
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#10 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 12:44 PM

You wish upgrade of elecronics of CP-16R.
I can propose of proved design of crystal sync speed controllers.
I install of crystal sync speed controllers at russian Konvas, Kinor cameras many years.
From minimum configuratin - 10 crystal sync speeds up to maximum configuration milti crystal sync speed synthesizer with film counter and LCD display.
The technical detailed by PM. ( olex.camera@gmail.com)


Okay Olex, you can stop pluggin your business alreday...maybe open your own thread?
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#11 John Sprung

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 04:29 PM

(oh another shout, these might be available as an aftermarket upgrade to any other crystal sync motor. it takes very little to re-purpose it for a different camera. So if you have a camera in mind, let me know and I will look into it.)


Yes, exactly. That's where the real value is, in leveraging the R&D to cover pretty much any camera with the same generic controller. The obvious first candidates would be the Arri, Eyemo, Bolex, etc. cameras that use interchangeable motors. It could even be a kit where you install a light chopper and just wire it up. You could turn an old windshield wiper motor into a crystal motor for the Eyemo, for instance. That's what I used in my little demonstrator project. Key to this is making it possible to program the ratio between the light chopper output and what the controller does with it. Maybe also different power transistor modules for bigger or smaller motors. Beef up the power section and you could crystal control a golf cart, or even a Prius. "Honest, officer, I was going an exact crystal controlled 55 MPH"..... ;-)

Bottom line, make it as generic and versatile as possible.




-- J.S.
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#12 Michael Collier

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 08:53 PM

How is this project coming along, and do you have any idea what the cost would be?
Matt Pacini


Hi Matt. The project is coming along well. In the last week I increased reliability (finally!) I had a ghost in the machine that a simple resistor solved, now 3 nights in a row it hasn't failed to detect a single feedback pulse, which is good. Missing one would mean the whole system would run 0.04 frames fast, and flash the sync warning light for a second, not acceptable in my opinion. before it might miss 2 or 3 in a 24 hour period.

Other than that I am still on schedule more or less. My shooting schedule has picked up a bit from the summer standstill, so maybe I have fallen slightly behind. I am working on making the user interface, and the LCD interface, along with menu structures, etc. Its all pretty simple stuff, but the number one tenant of this project has been to make it rock solid, and make it upgradeable.

I have an idea what it MIGHT cost to the end user, but I shouldn't post any numbers yet. A big factor in this is how long it takes the installer to put the thing in. I haven't had it timed yet, so I won't venture to say for sure. I do know that compared to other controllers and upgrades I have seen for similar cameras, it will be cheaper than any solution currently available for similar cameras (note that there is no over the shelf available mod today to directly compare it to.)

Sorry to burst your bubble though Matt, it won't be appreciably lighter. The original board wasn't all that heavy, so we might shave a few ounces off total, but it won't mean much to a lunk of a camera like that. It might make certain repair jobs easier though, since the main wheel won't be half covered by a circuit board.

The cool thing is it directly replaces the entire stainless steel back panel, where the batt indicator, run switch and FPS selector sit. One thing I always hated about upgraded controllers is they are boxes that connect to a (failpoint) connector and look awkward and out of place. This will just touch up the looks of the camera, and still appear to be stock, though anyone who has seen an original CP will know its not.

It may make super 16 mods easier (maybe dare I say cheaper?) there are a few I have talked with who said they won't modify a CP because of the boards frailty. If there is a board that could be repaired rather than replaced in that event, it might ease the minds of the people doing the S16 conversion. Not to mention the fact that it will be far away from any inadvertent damage during the mod, since it will be in the back of the camera, as apposed to the side.

Yes, exactly. That's where the real value is, in leveraging the R&D to cover pretty much any camera with the same generic controller.....
Bottom line, make it as generic and versatile as possible.
-- J.S.


Good ideas John! As it stands right now there wouldn't need to be a change in ratios, actually when you change the selected FPS in the camera all it does is load a new interval variable into memory, to define the exact time between each feedback pulse. So I wouldn't program a ratio divider, I would just enter a new data table of intervals.

Unfortunately there is a bit of a complication to making it too versatile (IE an off the shelf board that you attach to anything and make it run) The software needs to be tuned to the motor its going to be used on, otherwise when its slow it will overshoot the select speed and end up oscillating between going too fast and too slow. Granted that even in a well tuned machine that will inevitably happen, but my aim is to keep the margin of oscillating to an acceptable minimum.

To rework it for a different camera (or golf cart, or prius) I have to know something about the physics of the motor and the dynamics of the mass it is trying to move. It is directly re-purposable for just about any task that needs constant motor speed, but I would need a sample of the camera and rework the code parameters to tune the function to the cameras physics. But that would be a simple 4 hour job max.....much shorter turn than the R&D on this project.

Keep up the good responses though, it does encourage me to keep working on it, as apposed to just watching movies endlessly.






Teaser trailer: I have even bigger ideas afoot! The next two projects, though I am not sure what order I will tackle them in, but they will be good. One is an idea for a new camera system (I know, new cameras are never new, but this one is clever I promise!) and a new light system (yes I know, but same comment above) I can't say too much about them until I get the ideas that make them different patented. I also have to get investors interested. I can spearhead the project and design the hardware, but I need some better programmers than myself! R&D would take forever if it was just me hacking away at it, since its all part time nerding for me.
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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 12:32 AM

Unfortunately there is a bit of a complication to making it too versatile (IE an off the shelf board that you attach to anything and make it run) The software needs to be tuned to the motor its going to be used on, otherwise when its slow it will overshoot the select speed and end up oscillating between going too fast and too slow.


That's all a bunch of that old time servo theory I'd need to look up or find on the internet. Inertia and drag and all that. Tweaking that stuff was actually the funnest part of the little demo setup I built way back when. What I remember being the important thing was never to get too close to the max speed of the motor, where you don't have any oompf in reserve. Some drag was also helpful in damping those oscillations. Do a few different motors and cameras, and you'll probably develop some rules of thumb that you could put in the instructions and let us play with getting the dynamics right. If the price was low enough, I'd get one just to play with using an old power window or windshield wiper motor -- just for fun.




-- J.S.
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#14 kevin jackman

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:18 AM

yeah, id really like to see this unit be adaptable on different cameras, that and take a milliframe controler, oh yeah and not cost a smalll moon in price!
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#15 Alain Lumina

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 11:31 PM

All I can say is, go, go go!

Me and my CP16R are waiting. :P

We needs slo-motion! I need to waste film!!!

Thank You.
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#16 Michael Collier

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 09:24 PM

Apparently PMs don't work well, so I'll put this offer out en mass. Email me if you would like to be involved in the first few installs. Discounted price and free install for those who sign up. First 10 only, installs will be scheduled around the manufacturing return schedule. cp16@randomacronym.com

(oh, and I suppose I should say it works, and its really friggin' sweet!)
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#17 Allen Lambert

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 10:39 AM

Michael,

Will it have single frame/stop motion capabilities?

Thanks,
Allen
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#18 Michael Collier

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 01:49 PM

Initially it won't, but with the intervalometer that will follow it will be able to do animation/single frame. I have looked into the process, and it is quite difficult to get the exposure time exactly correct (it has to be up to speed perfectly within 1/2 frame, and it needs to adjust on the fly to ensure perfect exposure, and stoppage with the shutter entirely closed.) I just simply don't have time or space on the chip to implement that feature.

I have to get this out, so that will be on the intervalometer. Don't worry, however. The IV will be quite cheap compared to other comparable devices. This will be a self install/accessory type item, so it won't require a second visit to my shop. Just the initial upgrade will need to be done.
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#19 John Sprung

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Posted 17 March 2010 - 06:14 PM

I kinda thought the inertia issue would be a tough one -- like trying to drag race in a Euclid truck. ;-)




-- J.S.
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#20 Michael Collier

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Posted 18 March 2010 - 09:35 PM

I kinda thought the inertia issue would be a tough one -- like trying to drag race in a Euclid truck. ;-)
-- J.S.


That made me laugh. Actually you'd be surprised how much get up there is in the CP. Its more like drag racing a modern Jeep, it won't win but you'll still get a little rush. also there is a HUGE voltage overhead. The OEM board was fairly dumb, so I figure it needed the extra power to make its adjustments without a lot of math. It just powered through to keep sync. This board has a lot of 40bit and 48 bit math going on inside it, keeping tabs on where it is, where it should be, where it is likely to be in the future, what has happened in the past, and all sorts of other calculations to make it much more adaptive than typical PID xstal controllers.

In all it takes about 2000 lines to drive the interface and all features that work during times when the camera is off. It takes about 2500 lines to work through the sync-run math (and it has to power through all of those lines up to 1600 times a second at 64fps.) That being said the current to the logic chip is still lower than what (I roughly have estimated) the total current the old board drew, even with the LCD constantly on (total non-run draw as tested so far is about 25-30 mA. about the amount it takes to drive an LED. This figure will skew slightly higher as it progresses, I still haven't designed the power supply to the logic board, which will draw some amount of current. I have been powering it off of 3 AA batteries and a separate motor voltage at the moment.)

Inertia helps a lot in PID control. It maintains a baseline speed, allowing for more minute adjustments of speed. In fact when I watch the PWM value changing when its in test mode, its obvious the margin is very small (indicating the inertia combined with the tuning is working and adapting well), but changes extremely quickly (24fps hovers around 80-90 (out of 255) but it updates 600 times every second.

Single frame is entirely different. instead of using inertia built up in frame 1-3 of the ramp up and simply maintaining that speed, it needs to build at least enough speed so that it can hit the proper exposure time. However once the shutter opens it must continue to accelerate, with the goal of making up for the slow start, so it will hit the exact exposure time. Because its only one half of one full cycle that is exposing, I have roughly 12 chances to see if its on target or if it needs to speed up or slow down. then the second the shutter has closed it must shut down as fast as possible, leaving enough dark-time margin to allow for the next acceleration cycle. Its easy to do a 10 second exposure on the button. Very difficult to get it to do 1/48th sec. But possible.

(thankfully all those 40 and 48 bit math routines can be recycled for the intervalometer. That's why I expect it to be so cheap. Simple box. Simple LCD. Power from the board. Single fisher connection. Simple R&D = cheapest intervalometer around!)


Now if I could just stop shooting so much I could get this thing done! The next project will be funded, and engineers will be hired to bash out the design minutia. I can't stop inventing, but I refuse to live the life of an engineer. The next one will be mind blowing (at least to producers and cinematographers), and less niche-targeted. I'll announce it once I get the patents issued and I get the investors...know anyone with 250K for a first round, or 2-3 mill for second round R&D? 18-24 months to market, 40-100million dollar market!
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