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Automated Macro Rail

Automated Macro Rail

Automated Macro Rail

The first thing I need to mention about this article is that I did not create the electronic design for this, nor did I design the picaxe software to drive it.  What I have done is taken a great simple design by Domjan Svilkovic that was made popular on one of my favourite blogs, DIY Photography, and created a simulation of it in Picaxe VSM, a great circuit simulator that is not only a traditional circuit design & simulation tool, but also has the capability of running picaxe programs on simulated picaxe circuits.

This is my first real electronics project that complements one of my favourite hobbies - photography.  I have been a coder for quite a while, so the programming side of picaxe is nothing difficult for me to learn; it's more the terminology and circuitry side that are new to me.  It is a good excuse to step into electronics, something I have been meaning to do for many years, but never really had a clear direction on.

Automated Macro Rail

The primary motivation for simulating this circuit was to be able to analyse it better and be able to make minor tweaks like adding an LED and troubleshooting any issues I was having without constant de-sodering and re-soldering.  This design can also be a platform to build off and create my own original designs.  Having a simulator is the best way of taking the leap.  Having a known design that already works with things like infrared and stepper motors is a good kickstart for many an idea.

I have made slight modifications to the original design, mainly so that the simulator can simplistically show working operation, and to get it working more in-line with my build which uses cogs instead of pulleys and rubber-bands.  Using cogs does away with the algorithms to take up slack.  The code is modified to light an LED whenever an infrared signal is detected.

The simulation itself tests a specific sequence of events, all from a simulated infrared remote control:

  1. Channel + x5
  2. Channel - x5
  3. Volume - 5 seconds
  4. Mute to memorise focus range and reset focus start
  5. Power to kick off automated photos

Download the simulation files here: