Panobot build (part 1)


I like panoramic pictures a lot and for a long time I’ve been amused by them. One day I saw the Concorde cockpit gloriously captured here (please check it out) and I decided it was time to make myself a panobot.

The Panobot is a somewhat complex project. It will touch lots of knowledge areas and the build process will teach you new tricks. Building a panobot will demand electronics related skills, mechanical skills, optics knowledge and coding ability. So, why not? ๐Ÿ™‚

For panobot v1 I started building the hardware using a couple of small servos, an Arduino compatible Teensy 2.0 and a mechanical structure building kit. It was very basic. It had a mechanical, unreliable shutter trigger, very low rigidity, lack of adjustment possibilities all that resulted in very dumb panobot taking mediocre pictures. So, at the end of the build, after the first successfull panoramic (now I think about it as POC) I tossed the whole build it in the trash and decided to make a proper rig.

So, take my advice. If you decide to build a panobot, do not settle for fragile hardware, do not allow cheap hacks to make through, plan ahead, do your math and think about all the features you’ll want because most if not all of them will be hardware limited. Actually, building the hardware makes for about 95% of your success rate. The rest is just software.

Camera size is something you will want to consider from the beginning. Ask yourself if you are building for your camera model, any camera model or a category of models. Think about lenses, they can be as little and light as prime pancake lenses or heavy and bulky zoom lenses. Adjust your hardware for the size of the camera(s) and build around it.

Since I own a compact, mirrorless Olympus EP-3, I settled for this category. Full frame cameras or even APCs are be much bigger and so will the hardware. Having chosen the category, it is time to build.


1x 2 Piece L-Shape Flash Bracket
1x Fotomate LP-01 Aluminum Alloy Macro-Turning
2x 51100 Thrust bearing (aka axial bearing)
2x 606zz Ball bearing
2x 12V 0.1A 1.8ยบ Stepper Motor
2x A4988 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier
1x Teensy 2.0
1x Monochrome 128×64 OLED graphic display
1x Thumb Joystick

Besides major hardware, some other discrete components like transistors, capacitors, diodes and optocouplers were used.
The complete BOM will be provided at the end of the post.

Head over to part 2 for the assembly… (part 2 not available yet)