StackShot Macro Rail and Trinamic Stepper Motor

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Helicon Remote 2.x can control StackShot macro rails and Trinamic stepper motors.

In extreme macro and micro photography the depth of field can be as shallow as a few hundredths of a millimeter. In these cases, macro rails and stepper motors can be used to adjust the camera's position relative to the object of interest. These devices are able to move the camera — and thus the focusing plane — in submillimeter steps.

If a compatible device is connected, Helicon Remote sends stepping commands to the external device instead of a camera lens.

Using external steppers has the following advantages:

  1. Precision: macro rails can move the focusing plane by tiny steps of about 0.01 mm. Custom-built setups can give even greater precision.
  2. Reliability: camera lenses sometimes ignore focusing commands due to mechanical issues. Stepper motors never miss steps.
  3. Linearity: the movement of the focusing plane is unequal, i.e., not linear, when made by a camera lens. Steppers take equal steps.
  4. Custom applications: you can use steppers to shift or rotate objects instead of the camera or the rotating knob of a microscope.

Trinamic Stepper Motors

We develop and test Helicon Focus with the Trinamic PANDrive PD3-110-42-232 drive. It's a compact, strong stepper motor with a maximum torque of 0.49N-m and stall protection.

See the Technical Data Sheet for more details.

Other Trinamic motors are very likely to be compatible with Helicon Remote as well, as they have the same programming interface. We will add information about compatible motors later.

The Trinamic PANDrive PD3-110-42-232 costs $200-250 and can be purchased online from the following stores.

farnell.com PD3-110-42-232
conrad.de PANDRIVE 42MM, RS232, 0.50 NM
semiconductorstore.com PD3-110-42-232

You will also need a USB-RS232 converter ($30-40) to connect the motor to a computer.

farnell.com FTDI - USB-RS232-WE-1800-BT
ftdichip.com USB-RS232-WE-1800-BT_0.0

You may be able to find similar converters in computer stores. Please make sure that any converter you buy is based on an FTDI chip. Otherwise the program will not be able to find it.

You will also need a 12-28V DC power supply with a maximum current of 1.5A or more. Almost any laptop power supply will conform to these parameters.

Click here to see how to wire a USB converter and Trinamic motor.

StackShot Macro Rails

The StackShot is an electronically controlled macro-rail. See a complete description here: http://www.cognisys-inc.com.

The non-USB version of the StackShot costs $475. The USB version costs $525.00

This includes the StackShot controller with USB, stepper-motor-enabled macro rail, AC adapter (US, EU, AUS, or UK), and a 2m motor cable.