michaelh@juju.net.nz 2017-03-15 https://juju.net.nz/michaelh/project/pipoint/


An automatic camera pointer that keeps a rover like a model aircraft in the center of the frame.


Some time ago I set up a camera, pointed it at the sky, and recorded as I flew my model plane about. It was quite cool, but the plane covers so much area that most of the video was of blue sky.


The system shall be able to keep the following rovers in frame:

  • A 1 m wingspan model aircraft flying at 100 km/h at 50 m to 200 m range
  • A 1/10th scale model car driving at 40 km/h at 20 m to 100 m range

The system shall support a standard field configuration, where the rover says to the left, in front, or to the right of the operator but never goes behind.

The pointer shall support point a GoPro-class camera, especially a ~60 g Turnigy HD ActionCam with a 170” lens.

To minimise development time, prefer re-using existing hardware and software platforms.

To minimise hardware integration time, prefer a system with fewer parts.

Doing a round trip to test the system takes some time. To minimise the round trips:

  • In-field setup shall be minimised
  • The hardware, software, and parameters shall be readily modifable
  • The system shall support near real time debugging and tuning


The system shall consist of:

  • A PixFalcon Micro and GPS on the rover
  • A 433 MHz telemetry link
  • A Rasperry Pi 3 based base station
  • A Lynx B servo based Pan and Tilt Kit
  • A Linux laptop for display and control



The deliverables are:

  • TODO



Milestone Week Result
M1 W1 All foos have bars barred
M2 W3 All bazs are frobbed

Risks and mitigations


Alternatives considered

Do nothing…