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Underwater 3D stereoscopic video housing, unboxing / setup

:: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 @ 12:03:14 pm

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Custom BS Kinetics carbon fiber underwater 3D housing with Sony camcorders

A few days ago, I took delivery of a BS Kinetics DuoDive housing, which is designed to house 2 consumer camcorders for use in capturing underwater 3D video. The housing is a carbon fiber + epoxy oval (as opposed to being a rigid cylinder or machined aluminum housing, which is more typical), and features a flat port, red/orange filter, hinged port cap, and rear LCD that toggles between left and right camera display.

The housing is designed to be generic, which means that a variety of cameras can be mounted inside. I’ve decided to use two Sony CX550V AVCHD camcorders with Sony 0.75X wide-angle adapters (removable). Although the CX550V shoots AVCHD (bleh) at 1080i (double bleh), it has a wide lens (~29mm equivalent) and is easily controlled through LANC.

Speaking of LANC, the majority of the camera’s controls are controlled using ste-fra LANC, which was developed for the use of two camera to provide stereoscopic imaging. Werner Bloos of digi-dat integrated ste-frac electronics with the BS Kinetics DuoDive housing.

The rear numeric LED display shows sync information of the two cameras in milliseconds. Through this LANC control, I have access to power, zoom +/-, zoom speed, push autofocus, focus auto/manual toggle, focus +/-, record, mode switch (photo/video), guide frame on/off, and shoot photo. A yellow button switches the LCD view from left to right camera, and two additional buttons kick off infrared macros that blast the menu commands necessary for one-touch white balance and Smooth Slow Motion (a 240fps burst on on the Sony CX550V).

Unfortunately, there is no control for exposure, so I will be forced to shoot in auto (the horror!). I may end up housing the Sony CX550V remote so I can blast infrared menu commands into the housing to control exposure. This would be extremely non-ergonomic, but would at least give me the option to lock down exposure. Also, since so much of the housing relies on custom electronics, I will likely install a vacuum valve so I can pressure test the housing before each dive. A flood would be catastrophic and non-user repairable in the field.

Using the rear control buttons, I find the housing and camera combination to be quite responsive. The buttons are easy to press and there is no lag in camera control. Zoom and focus controls appear to synchronize well, although I’ll have to analyze footage to determine how well the camera actually perform together.

The infrared LED blasters took hours to position correctly. The manual states that “the two IR emitters need to be placed as close as possible to the IR receiver of the camcorders,” and after hours of frustration, I realized that the emitters actually need to be placed further — around 25mm away from the IR receiver — in order to reliably control the camera. I suspect that this is due to a narrow beam angle from the IR-LED emitter. Because the area near the front of the mounting plate is so cramped, I had to place the LEDs in a diagonal position still facing the IR receiver on the camera, but not too close. I tried the configuration as pictured in the manual, but that didn’t work at all. See the last photos in my gallery for how I ended up positioning the LEDs in order to get reliable infrared control.

In any case, I am all ready for my first series of 3D video dives next week (cenotes in the Yucatán followed by whale shark aggregation off of Isla Mujeres). Wish me luck!

| San Francisco, CA | link | trackback | Jul 21, 2010 12:03:14
  • norm

    So cool. I cant wait to see the results. With your increasing powers, I may never have to dive again! :)

  • Chester

    Why carbon fiber? I would imagine that weight is a non-issue when you're underwater…

  • http://echeng.com/ Eric Cheng

    I assume it's so they could make it an oval shape to reduce the volume of the housing. Traditional housings are cylindrical aluminum (cheaper) or machined aluminum (expensive).

  • Pingback: An Impressive, Custom Underwater 3-D Camcorder Setup | ??????

  • Chester

    Ah, okay…makes sense. I was just assuming that they could still do the same shape with Aluminum, but…it makes sense that, given their presumed production run, that it'd be better to do custom carbon fiber than custom aluminum.

    Now you just need to build a remote-control tri-modal flying amphibious carrier vehicle: 3D video in water, sky, and on land. Don't disappoint!

  • Pingback: An Impressive, Custom Underwater 3-D Camcorder Setup | Hot Electronics Trends

  • Pingback: Camcorders from Sony re-crafted into an underwater 3D camcorder | Gadgets Now

  • http://www.facebook.com/luisguijarro Luis Guijarro

    looking forward to see what you come up with it, have a nice time in Mexico

  • Amy

    Haha, remind of ET :D

  • Seaflex

    You have created an interest in housing 3d.
    Please let me know how much the price.
    I underwater equipment rental companies in South Korea.
    Home http://www.seaflex.co.kr

  • Shawn B.

    How did you order one of these? I saw the BS Kinetics website, but they don't list it for sale in any obvious place where I could find.

  • http://echeng.com/ Eric Cheng

    You can get a housing with custom LANC electronics at http://digi-dat.de/

  • Pingback: An Impressive, Custom Underwater 3-D Camcorder Setup « News / Blog

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bastien-Francois/533990915 Bastien Francois

    What is the wing for??

    Unless you plan onto mounting so lights, I sure hope it is not to “glide” underwater, this set up would be very difficult to steady fo ra low or high angle shot in any kind of moderate current.

  • Pingback: 3D Underwater Video of a Moral Eel Hunting | 3D Video Clips

  • Bvanalen

    Excellent design. Are you aware of any stereoscopic underwater ccd camera/dvr setups?

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