HomeTechniquesMaking CreationsBuilding a Merlin or Orion Motorized Pano-head


Building a Merlin or Orion Motorized Pano-head — 22 Comments

  1. Pingback:Cool Vid–I think this is what I’m looking for… « Cycling Experiences…

  2. I was thinking i would use my laptop be cause i want to use remote contorl software for the rebel xsi. would it work if i used a usb to ttl converter cable into a usb server on top of a 50′ pole with a usb router on the ground?

    usb server http://www.silexamerica.com/sx-2000wg.html

    usb to ttl cable http://www.makershed.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=TTL232R&Redirected=Y

    router http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1065011&CatId=2667

    would appreciate your thoughts on this

    chris blake

  3. This is amazing! I have a question. If I used a fish eye lens with this setup wont the shots have a portion of the orion showing in it?

  4. Milo – I use a 10.5 mm fisheye and it doesn’t catch any more of the Orion than anything else, if you have it set up correctly. Any lens setup will show the bottom (nadir) if you shoot 360 degrees. People either crop it out or shoot a nadir shot by hand and stitch it in separately. Though you might suspect that the upright would show up when using a fisheye, it doesn’t, at least for the 10.5mm. There is an example with of a stitched panorama with the Orion showing here. I use a method where I take 6 shots around at -15 degrees and the zenith or top shot.

  5. Chris – I like the pole setup idea. My main concern is Papywizard being able to resolve the Orion through the complexities of the hardware and the control software possibly conflicting. Some users are direct wiring a laptop to the orion, while others are using a bluetooth antenna to boost range, so those are also possibilities. I think you should go to the source for answers, as Papywizard v2 may have camera control, or at least picture acquisition features. Head over to the Merlin/Orion forum on Autopano.net. There are more folks over there thinking about this stuff. Also check out this thread discussing the version 2. Panning time lapse panography is another potential feature.

  6. Excellent review!

    Your trigger cable is not defective, mine is also non-conductive in the left signal section. It’s made especially for Canons though.

    I am beginning an experiment with a “Wi-Fly” wireless to serial adapter component, which will (hopefully) allow control of the Merlin over a standard WiFi network. What’s nice about the Wi-Fly is that it contains a voltage regulator on-board, so no need for power supply electronics. Together with an Eye-Fi memory card I would be able to drive the Merlin from across the street and see all photos the moment they are shot.

    Now that would be geeky, don’t you think?

  7. The cable is not defective, just a PITA. I need to have it shorted for use with the Merlin, but stereo for use as a “normal” remote. I am trying a stereo to mono 2.5mm adapter at the moment, and it seems to work. Otherwise I was going to add a switch.

    I love the “Wi Fly” possibilities! The new Papywizard has some tethered shooting functions best utilized with a PC. The only issue is that it is still focused on bluetooth. I am not a huge fan of the Eye Fi cards, since last time I looked they transmitted images to your computer via their server, which means you need internet access, not just your local network for it to work.

    I’d love to hear what you come up with.

  8. Thanks DrSlony for the Autopano link note- while I had the right link in the Resources list, I have now corrected the link in the article.

  9. Hi,

    great review and thanks for sharing.

    I am interested in how you have attached your camera, and if you indeed, managed to use your Arca-Swiss mounts (I use RRS gear as well). I am thinking of using a slightly larger camera, either Canon 1D or Nikon D3. Do you think this will pose a problem with NPP?


    A Dane Down Under

  10. Thanks for the feedback. I used my RSS MPR-192 and some mini clamps for a while, but ultimately went back to using the bracket that came with the unit. In future I will need to get something machined. (A crown that I can bolt a miniclamp to and a thinner rail perhaps.) The orion/merlin has enough clearance for a D80, but getting a good NPP set up for larger cameras is impossible without major modification of the crown. If you are doing gigapans with a telephoto you can mount the camera in landscape orientation and have better luck, but you will still have issues with clearance. Anything with a vertical grip would be a headache. My recommendation would be to find a used consumer body to use for this project. Less to carry and less headaches trying to set it up.

  11. Amazing! I have been doing pano work for a couple of years and learning it all alone! so good to hear the experience of others.
    I have a Milapse head and also a mechanical pano head (Panosaurus) I waant to go robotic though because I want to do some stop motion and other things like that.

  12. It has been very interesting to watch the growth of interest in these motorised heads. While the Orion/Merlin is a good value – I have several friends who are looking into building their own machine for better accuracy and function. I think they have more fun making the contraption than taking the pictures.

  13. Hi, this is great,
    Thanks BeeZed and everybody.
    Could please please someone help me regarding the Merlin?
    I’m new to this and would like to try to remotely control the Merlin mount, on a first instance via Ethernet, then with the bluetooth.
    Can I use a simple RJ11 cable connectors and put a RJ45 to one end?
    Which connectors/colored-wires should I connect on the Ethernet plug?

  14. Bruno – I have no experience conrtolling the mount beyond using papywizard. AS long as you can generate serial commands, you can probably get it to work.

  15. The best information is on the Autopano forum devoted to this head, listed in the post. The commands are summarized on the Papywizard wiki. The whole point of the project is to remotely control the robot head. With a little extra hardware connection you can control the camera as well.

  16. I’m putting together one of these units, and I’ve been checking all over the place, but I haven’t been able to find out what value resistors I should use, and where they are connected on the BlueSmirf board. I know that the TX/RX pins are tied together on one side (I can see that on your picture), but are the resistors connected to the board at another point near the other end (a ground)? I sure could use a better picture!

    Thanks for all the other information. I was ready to pull the trigger on a GiggaPan and try to work around the problems. This is a much better solution (and it lets me find a use for the N810 sitting in the closet).

  17. One resistor is soldered to the RX-0 pad on the blue smirf, and the other to the TX-0 pad. They are only bent to run parallel to the board because of size constraints in my project box, so that is a little confusing. This picture does show the connection to the board (click to enlarge). The resistors are 220 ohm as listed on page 2. I hope that helps.

  18. Does anybody have a list of all the MERLIN Commands ?
    Looking for this desperatly !
    Havend found them in the Papywiki.

    Thx neix

  19. Hi, i scanned the web for a cheaper telescope head and i find this seller:

    MERLIN Panoramakopf mit Motorsteuerung

    that sell this prodoct at 159 euro.

    So i conctaced them to ask some information about it. This the reply:

    “Yes, we have Merlin for 159€ (only head, without tripod and without L-Shape).
    It is the NON-GOTO Version, you can move with 3 differently speeds, but you can not make automatically object-position.
    It is optimal as panorama-head for panoramaphotography and works together with papywithard software and BLTm-Modul. ”

    Inconclusion i would like to know if this product can be used like a teletrack orion.


    p.s. what’s it mean “non goto version”? is it compatible with this modify?