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Open Supply Movement Seize for Autonomous Drones

Open Supply Movement Seize for Autonomous Drones

2024-02-23 16:35:30


Whereas the core content material of my movement seize drones venture is on the YouTube video, I assumed I ought to create a weblog put up with some extra particulars and my very own ideas on the venture. If you have not watched the video try this first, it covers all of the enjoyable stuff.


Like most of my tasks, I ended up doing this simply because I assumed it could be actually cool. There are such a lot of unimaginable movies of drone swarms on YouTube, however all of them used movement seize setups that value tens of 1000’s of {dollars}. I assumed it could be enjoyable to attempt create my very own indoor drone swarm, so I began in search of open supply movement seize methods. There are a ton of single digital camera movement seize methods for people (largely developed for v-tubers? critically haha), however shockingly little work achieved for robotics movement seize. There may be one video from just a few years in the past which reveals an analogous PS3 eye movement seize system used for humanoid monitoring, however the creator appears in opposition to releasing the supply code which is a disgrace.

So yeah, this venture is an try and fill the void of open supply movement seize methods. I made a decision to fly drones with it as a flashy demonstration of what sorts of issues it may be used for; it is a good method to wrap the venture up right into a cool actual world demonstration that grabs folks’s creativeness – one thing which I really feel extra open supply tasks ought to do!

The Drone

I’ve gotten lots of questions concerning the drones I used on this venture, which I assume must be anticipated since they’re the (visible) star of the present!

Initially, I regarded into shopping for off the shelf researched targeted micro drones, just like the CrazyFlie or EspCopter, however all of them had been fairly costly. Within the low-cost spirit of this venture, I made a decision to construct my very own mini drones.

I thought-about utilizing one thing just like the ESP-Drone, which might be purchased for actually low cost on-line. Nonetheless, that may require creating / adapting flight controller software program to run on the ESP32, which I knew can be a venture in its self. I as a substitute determined to simply construct a small drone with an ESP32 emulating an RC receiver. This answer is good as a result of it additionally permits my system for use with any drone and flight controller.

Under are the components I used to construct my drone:

  • Whole value: ~$50 USD
  • Flight time: ~10min
  • Thrust/Weight: Very shit lol. Possibly 1.5?

The flight controller needed to run some historical model of BetaFlight because it has the outdated f3 microprocessor, however for what I am doing that was completely high quality.

The LEDs are hooked up to the drone utilizing stiff wires, which additionally carry the ability. The entire drone was surprisingly crash resistant, it most likely crashed over 100 occasions however the factor is so gentle and the props are so small that it by no means actually broke. The weak level is certainly the brushed motors, which give out after just a few hours of flying. It most likely did not assist that I purchased the most affordable, shittiest brushed motors I may discover on Aliexpress lol.

If I made a decision to completely commit to creating a drone swarm, I might undoubtedly use the esp-drone platform. It might be a ache to get flying, however it could lower out so many elements from the system because the ESP32 would each wirelessly obtain messages and management the motors. It might actually only a flying pcb, so it ought to be capable to get actually good flight occasions.


Within the video I kinda breezed over lots of the small print of the cameras, however there’s a good bit of nuance concerned to transform the PS3 eye cameras to the infrared cameras I used on this venture.

There are two choices to doing this:

Choice 1: Use the unique lens

That is what I did.



  • Not all PS3 eye cameras might be transformed utilizing this technique
  • Fairly tough and finicky

The largest draw back of this technique is that it does not work for all PS3 cameras. Solely the “outdated” sort of PS3 cameras which have a curved entrance lens factor and no white ring contained in the lens can be utilized. That is actually annoying since you typically cannot inform if a digital camera is the brand new or outdated sort when ebay listings, and so on. I simply purchased 8 cameras for $1 every, and 5 of them ended up being the right sort.

The nice and unhealthy PS3 eye digital camera varieties. Belief me it is inconceivable with the unhealthy sort. [Source](

Listed here are the steps:

  1. Take away the outer plastic shell
  2. Unscrew the lens mount
  3. Use a small sharp knife or soldering iron to chop round the pink IR lower filter contained in the lens. Do not simply shatter the glass, lower round it and pry it out. This can take some time (it took me like 30min my first time).
  4. Eradicating the IR lower filter adjustments the focal size of the lens, so we have to make the lens nearer to the sensor for the picture to be in focus. Use course sandpaper or a file to file down the lens mount by a small quantity, checking each couple of minutes if the picture is in focus or not. If you happen to file away an excessive amount of, you should utilize a bit of tape or one thing as a shim. The candy spot is a fraction of a mm, so watch out. If you happen to do not do that step your photographs shall be out of focus!
  5. Glue the floppy disk IR filter on the surface of the lens

There are tons of tutorials on-line, this one is fairly good.

Choice 2: Use a brand new lens

I did not do that, but when I had been to do it once more I might undoubtedly do it this fashion. I do not see any purpose why it will not work.


  • A lot simpler and quicker to do
  • Any PS3 eye digital camera can be utilized


  • Requires you to purchase a brand new lens

Principally, as a substitute of going by the effort of eradicating the IR lower filter from the unique lens and submitting down the mount, simply throw away the unique lens a put a brand new one on. The brand new lens must have a fairly large discipline of view and no IR lower filter so it will probably let IR gentle by. A lot of these lenses are sometimes marketed as “night time imaginative and prescient” safety digital camera lenses or one thing like that. You additionally want to purchase a lens that has the right mount to suit on the PS3 eye PCB, or simply 3D print a mount.

Listed here are the steps:

See Also

  1. Take away the outer plastic shell
  2. Unscrew the lens mount
  3. Screw on the brand new lens mount
  4. Glue the floppy disk IR filter on the surface of the lens

Wow, that was simple.

PS3 eye shutter sync

One more reason why the PS3 eye is nice for this utility is as a result of you possibly can bodily sync all of the digital camera’s shutters, so that they take photos on the similar time. The shutter sync sign wire might be discovered on the PCB (google it for particulars), after which you possibly can pulse a sync sign to all of the cameras. My digital camera case has area for a 3.5mm jack which can be utilized to daisy-chain the digital camera’s shutter sync alerts collectively.

I did not truly find yourself utilizing this characteristic, nevertheless. The sign wire on the PCB is de facto exhausting to seek out, and is elsewhere relying on the digital camera iteration. I additionally bought some bizarre artifacts when utilizing the sync sign, and I did not actually discover a rise in accuracy. I believe that the low decision of those cameras (320×240) and comparatively gradual speeds of the drones signifies that the affect of shutter syncing is fairly negligible. If you happen to pushed the system as much as 150fps and had fast-paced objects, the shutter sync pulse would most likely be very helpful.

Constructing the remainder of the digital camera

We additionally must 3D print the case and swivel mount for the digital camera. Yow will discover the recordsdata on the GitHub repo.

Listed here are an inventory of components I used to construct the digital camera:

The three.5mm jack and extension cable are solely wanted if you wish to sync the shutters.

Conclusion / Rambly Reflection

This venture labored out rather well – I am kinda blown away by how correct it ended up being. I nonetheless cannot imagine that there’s no massive open supply movement seize system, at the very least none that I’ve seen up to now. It kinda ashames me that my shitty undocumented code is like essentially the most starred non-humanoid movement seize repository beneath the “motion-capture” tag on GitHub.

I briefly talked about this within the video, however I used to be additionally working at Palantir this summer season as an intern. I had an incredible time working there, I imply that they had three free meals a day, limitless alcohol, drinks and snacks – what else may you ask for. The mixture of loving your job and free meals is a harmful one, as I might actually keep for dinner on daily basis (I made up for this by coming in to work later than I most likely ought to have lol). Sadly, this didn’t give me a lot free time to work on my drone venture, however that didn’t actually cease me.

Most days can be 10am-6pm at Palantir after which 7pm-2am engaged on my movement seize drones (fortunately I lived 10min from work). It completely wasn’t a wholesome work-life stability, however that’s the draw back of loving coding. From an out of doors perspective, I can see why it may look fairly unhappy to spend most of my day writing code, however I assume I do it as a result of I actually do like it. Simply as some folks watch Netflix, crochet or play video video games to unwind after work, I prefer to code. Which is a bit complicated as a result of I additionally write code for work, however I assume I am simply very fortunate.

Nonetheless, even I’ve a restrict to how a lot programming I can do earlier than dropping my thoughts. I used to be undoubtedly feeling fairly burnt out by the top of my 3 month summer season, inflicting me to decelerate on the drone venture and focus extra on work and easily stress-free. Uni began the Monday after I completed my internship, in order that undoubtedly was the fitting name as Cambridge phrases are notoriously flat out.

It’s good to have labored on a correct coding venture after years of movie images tasks, my web site was turning into a bit overrun with them haha

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