Saturn V Rig Kit

$165.00 to $170.00

Price includes US shipping.

Nano version

This is the kit version with all the parts to make a working Saturn V Rig, not including the camera and batteries. The SkyShield autoKAP controller is soldered together and tested, but most other components require assembly (typically, no gluing, drilling, or soldering is required). Some calibration and adjustment must be done after assembly, and the Arduino sketch will require modification and loading onto the Arduino Nano (part of the SkyShield).

The Saturn V Rig is a kite aerial photography rig designed to use two micro servos (small motors) to adjust the pan and tilt angles of the camera. The servos can be operated autonomously by an on-board microcontroller or remotely via radio control (requires additional hardware). With a camera capable of being triggered remotely you can systematically capture photos to stitch into high resolution panoramas or just take lots of photos in all directions.

The Saturn V Rig was designed to be operated by the included SkyShield autoKAP controller. The SkyShield is a custom circuit board which is a "shield" for an Arduino Nano. The Arduino can run a program ("sketch") which includes eight different regimes of pan/tilt/shoot sequences, any of which can be selected in the field using a DIP switch. The SkyShield allows easy connection of the camera, servos, and battery pack. Up to two cameras (or other devices) and four servos (or other devices) can be connected for various applications. The SkyShield is open-source, and the circuit and software are available at the Guides page.

The SkyShield with this kit includes an Arduino Nano with either the 328p ATmega chip or the 168 ATmega chip (select above). The primary difference is the amount of memory for storing the program: 32 kB for the 328p and 16 kB for the 168. The program running on the SkyShield requires less than half the memory available on the Nano with the 168 chip so there is no need for the extra memory on the 328p chip.

The cables and software with the SkyShield autoKAP controller allow timed shutter-triggering of Canon PowerShot cameras running CHDK. Other cameras may require additional hardware and software.

The Saturn V Rig includes everything for a working autoKAP system except the camera and batteries (six AAA). This includes the 3D printed pan/tilt rig and Picavet suspension, a SkyShield KAP controller with Arduino Nano compatible microcontroller, two micro servos, a gear set, battery case, cables, and all the straps, legs, and bumpers. The SkyShield autoKAP controller is soldered and assembled, but assembling the rig could take a few hours (see parts photo below). A user manual is included.

Flying weight without the camera is 340 grams (weight includes batteries, Picavet, legs, etc.).

The SkyShield is also available by itself either in kit form or assembled. 

The Arduino Nano is loaded with a sketch which runs when it is powered up. With the free Arduino software installed on your computer, you can update the sketch or modify it to alter any of the pan/tilt/shoot modes described in the sketch.

The SkyShield has a 1.5 amp LDO voltage regulator and 270uF or 390uF capacitor to supply ample current to the servos. Although the intended use is aerial photography, a SkyShield can be used to control six different devices of many types with battery power and DIP switch control of variables.

The Saturn V Rig includes a slotted camera tray (see Redstone Rig) which requires no drilling and allows most smaller cameras to be easily balanced (photos on this page show an earlier version of the camera tray).

Discussion and early results can be seen in research notes published at Public Lab.

Below is an early image of all the parts used to build a Saturn V Rig. Newly designed versions of the camera tray, leg brackets, and large gear are now included. 

If you would like to 3D print your own Saturn V Rig, the stl and skp files are freely available at Thingiverse.