Spherical 360 Degree Panorama with LEGO Mindstorms motorized head

Panoramic photography is one of my passions. With the arrival of panorama apps for the iPhone the game has changed, yet again. You can easily create panoramas right on your iPhone. Not only can you stitch them on the phone, but you can even continuously shoot spherical panos with PhotoSynth (free) or 360 Panorama (commercial). You can simply pan and tilt the camera while holding the camera in your hand, but the more elegant and more precise method is to use a motorized camera head. I build one from LEGO and used the Mindstorms NXT (no need for the EV3 for this).

The same principles that classical panoramic photography also applies to this new generation of pano apps. Most importantly, the pivot point of the camera head needs to be in the “no parallax” point of the camera. Since the lens of the iPhone is very small, it is sufficient to just place just into the pivot point. In figure 1 you see how the rotation axis of the motorized camera head roughly meet at the center of the camera.panorama-maker

The LDD file is available here and the building instructions are also available. I also created a page at Rebrickable.

Programming is very straight forward:

Screenshot of the program

Here is a video of the an earlier version of the motorized camera head in action:

And here is the resulting spherical panorama:


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