Jeff Barr's Blog

Things I Like..

Vex-Based Webcam Platform

As part of my job as Amazon Web Services Evangelist, I am planning to record some screencasts and some videos later this year. I am in the process of adapting my home office to the task. So far I have set up a green screen (so that I can use the Chroma Key process to put myself in front of an interesting background scene) and I have purchased a nice Logitech webcam.

The green screen is a simple piece of fabric from EEFX. They sell “remnants” for very reasonable prices. The remnants are very small when compared to the giant pieces that they sell to their commercial customers, but are perfectly adequate for use in a home studio.

I want to be able to use the same webcam to record myself while sitting at the desk or standing in front of the green screen. I explored a number of different ways to do this and finally decided to use some Vex Robotics parts to build a webcam platform that I could activate using the Vex remote control. Years and years ago, Radio Shack dumped their entire inventory of Vex parts at half price and I picked up everything I could find and tucked them away on a shelf.

Here’s what I came up with:

Here are two videos of the platform in operation:

And here’s the view from the camera as it pans up and down in front of one of my shelves of programming books:

I still have room to make this better, and I want to add a third servo so that I can rotate it, but I am pretty happy with my progress to date! Stay tuned for some AWS videos starting next month.