miniEngine 2 development

Hello everybody,

I hope you all have a good Easter time!

The free days, we all enjoy right now, allowed me to work a little bit on my new Rhino Slider based track as well as on the software. Here comes some information on the development of the 2nd version of the miniEngine software. I thought I let you know what it will basically look like.

splash screen
The 1st idea for the new splash screen (it’s actually animated)

First of all – I spent a lot of time doing research and hardware analysis for the next version as I wanted to have a hardware platform that has some more reserves for future developments than the current system. It also needs to be affordable and, what’s very important to me, as easy to use as possible. It is hard enough to be out in the field, possibly in bad weather, handle all the equipment and then focus on the shoot you want to do. I want a system that isn’t an additional thing one needs to care and think about.

So I searched the web for possible displays (ready to use so that you guys can build your own mineE system from off the shelf parts), did some breadboard based prototypes and figured out which way to go. One main problem I had was that bigger graphical screens – which I really want to use – need a lot more processing power than simple 16×2 character LCDs. I also want to have a better input method than the quite buggy buttons of the DFRobot shield. So this is the feature list I came up with after the research- and input collection process:

  • Arduino Due bases (ARM) for having tons of performance and flash space
  • capable of controlling multiple motors
  • 2.4 inch graphical TFT display with 320×240 pixel (including touch sensor for later features)
  • SD card (implemented later)
  • rotary knob for main menu navigation and motor control
  • daisy chaining capability
  • time lapse as well as video features
  • open source

Right now I am working on a system architecture that fulfills al my requirements. So I started rewriting major parts of the code to realize a new version of the system which is easier to maintain and can be simpler further developed (Hopefully this lowers the entrance barrier and some of you will contribute to the development with your ideas and features). One example of this modularization work is the motor control which I extracted from the code and put it into a standalone library.

The motor control which allows one to move the motor with the rotary knob is also implemented and working pretty fine!

I plan to develop a new version of the shield that then holds all the required components. I thought an initial version will have 2 motor drivers, the input buttons / knobs and of course the display.

I will continue working on the system and hope that a first version will be available this summer. The next main steps are setting up a 1st version of the shield and then start developing the new user interface – I am still not quite sure how this will look like 😉

Here are some screenshots of the display I am going to use with speed tests, UI layout tests and the font that I developed to fit as much information on the screen as possible.

menu mock-up
A first menu mock-up. I used this for some rotary encoder tests and for getting an idea how the UI could look like. This look possibly changes in later iterations.

fonts test
The fonts I am planning to use for the user interface

font
Here’s a close-up of a font I designed for the new system (there was no font with the size I wanted available)

fill test
Just a fill-rate test to check the painting performance of the screen

4 thoughts on “miniEngine 2 development

  1. Wow Airic this really exciting!
    I’m delighted to see your advancements both as user and a hoobbyist developer.
    I’ve just finished prototyping my own “follow focus” system for HDSLR cameras, and it’s really great watching and learning from your process.
    Thank you very much for sharing all this!

  2. Awesome!
    Can not await what comes of this project. I am already planing my own time lapse dolly system and this is the coolest approach I found so far!

    Keep it going! 🙂

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