Drones have become the norm for mobile aerial camera platforms, but another option that is seeing use in the professional world are cable cameras. As an exercise in integrating mechanics, electronics and software, [maxipalay] has created his own Cablecam.
Cablecam is built around a pair of machined wood plates, with pulleys and a motor reducer between them. A brushless hobby motor moves the platform along the rope / cable, driving an ESC drone. Since the ESC does not have a reverse function, [maxipalay] used four relays controlled by an Arduino to swap the connections of two of the motor wires to reverse direction. The main on-board controller is a Raspberry Pi, connected to a camera module mounted on a two-axis gimbal for stabilization. A GPS module has also been added for positioning information on long cables.
The base station is built around an Nvidia Jetson Nano connected to a 7 ″ display mounted in a plastic case. Video, telemetry and control signals are communicated using the open source Wifibroadcast protocol. This uses standard WiFi hardware in connectionless mode to broadcast UDP packets and avoids the lengthy WiFi reconnection process every time a connection is dropped. Cablecam’s movement can be controlled manually using a potentiometer on the control station, or use the Jetson’s machine vision capabilities to automatically track and track people.
We’ve seen several cable robots over the years, including a solar-powered sensor platform that looks like a sloth.