Log InRegister
Home PageAbout MindatThe Mindat ManualHistory of MindatCopyright StatusWho We AreContact UsAdvertise on Mindat
Donate to MindatCorporate SponsorshipSponsor a PageSponsored PagesMindat AdvertisersAdvertise on Mindat
Learning CenterWhat is a mineral?The most common minerals on earthInformation for Educators
Minerals by PropertiesMinerals by ChemistryAdvanced Locality SearchRandom MineralRandom LocalitySearch by minIDLocalities Near MeSearch ArticlesSearch GlossaryMore Search Options
Search For:
Mineral Name:
Locality Name:
Keyword(s):
 
The Mindat ManualAdd a New PhotoRate PhotosLocality Edit ReportCoordinate Completion ReportAdd Glossary Item
StatisticsThe ElementsUsersBooks & MagazinesMineral MuseumsMineral Shows & EventsThe Mindat DirectoryDevice Settings
Photo SearchPhoto GalleriesNew Photos TodayNew Photos YesterdayMembers' Photo GalleriesPast Photo of the Day Gallery

My Black BOX or . . . . new Stacking Device

Last Updated: 28th Aug 2015

By Edgar Müller

And once again, almost an entire year has passed. I actually wanted to write this report about the stack-unit a lot sooner. By now, the Stacking-Unit from my first report has been replaced by a newer version.

So, why did we design this Stacking-Unit?
Our idea had been to create a self contained system held inside of a frame. This is meant to reduce vibrations and coordinate the orientation of the camera, the automated carriage and the piece to be photographed. Another important part of it was that it is not possible for everyone to build something like that by themselves or have it build by someone they know. This resulted in our desire to create a versatile unit, which contained all important pieces of hardware needed for stacking, only excluding the photography-equipment itself. The Result i show you!
The dimensions of the Stacking Device are: height 60cm, width 50 cm, depth 45cm; The tripod are 80 cm height; The Super Nova LED Lamp diameter 20cm (inside 14cm); The table 20x20 cm.

Pic. 1 -The Black Box-
Pic. 2 -or . . . . . the new-
Pic. 3 -Stacking Device-
Pic. 1 -The Black Box-
Pic. 2 -or . . . . . the new-
Pic. 3 -Stacking Device-
Pic. 1 -The Black Box-
Pic. 2 -or . . . . . the new-
Pic. 3 -Stacking Device-

In the Stacking-Unit, the camera is mounted on a carriage, which in turn is mounted on a tripod. (Marked as No. 1 on picture 4) This tripod is designed to allow you to move the the carriage holding the camera up and down without much effort. This is useful, as you can simply move the camera up out of the working area when setting up the object.
Pic. 4 -The camera holder on the tripod-
Pic. 5 -The manual hand wheel-
Pic. 4 -The camera holder on the tripod-
Pic. 5 -The manual hand wheel-
Pic. 4 -The camera holder on the tripod-
Pic. 5 -The manual hand wheel-

To do so, you use the lever on the right sight of the carriage (marked as No. 2) to loosen it before or fixate it after sliding it up or down. My extra large version of the tripod, which is around 80 cm tall, allows me to easily shift the carriage a distance of 30 cm away from the work area.
The right pillar of the tripod has an adjusting ring mounted on it to act as a stopper. (Marked as No. 3) This stopper can be fixated at the working position of the camera, allowing one to return it to that exact position quickly and without any problems.
Exact positioning of the camera-carriage down to a 100th of a millimeter can be done through the use of the manual hand wheel on top of the tripod (see picture 5). This works exact and well enough that you could manually stack simply by using the wheel.

Mounted on the side wall is a horizontally moving carriage. Using a crank, this carriage can be moved around 10 cm for- or backwards. It is on this carriage that the StackMaster, a computer-controlled carriage for stacking, is mounted. Thanks to being mounted on the horizontal carriage, the entire StackMaster-Unit can be moved, allowing you to exactly position the mineral and camera relative to one another.
Pic. 6 -The StackMaster in the back position on the horizontally moving carriage-
Pic. 7 -The StackMaster in the front position on the horizontally moving carriage-
Pic. 6 -The StackMaster in the back position on the horizontally moving carriage-
Pic. 7 -The StackMaster in the front position on the horizontally moving carriage-
Pic. 6 -The StackMaster in the back position on the horizontally moving carriage-
Pic. 7 -The StackMaster in the front position on the horizontally moving carriage-

So what is the StackMaster?
It is a specifically for stacking developed motorized carriage, which can, through the combination of its step-motor and the interposed gearing, move exact steps of 0.0001 mm. Using the correlating control in combination with the proper software for Macintosh or Windows allows one to automatically control the connected camera and the exact movement of the StackMaster-carriage. Using the bundled software, you can define the size of a single step as well as the number of photos to be taken. The control transmits a signal to the carriage, informing it to move the specified amount and after that a signal to the camera, triggering it to take a photo. This is repeated until the defined amount of pictures have been taken.

A second mode of operation is the automated mode. Here, you first define the highest and lowest point your camera reaches and define them in the software as your starting and ending point. Now you simply define the distance between each photo and start the software. Now the carriage will move to the defined starting point and take the first picture. Afterwards it will move to the next point and take another photo. This process repeats until it has reached the defined ending point, where it will take the final picture and stop. In doing so it is ensured that all steps have the exact same size.
Pic. 8 -The Software using in automatic mode-
Pic. 9 -The Software using in manuel mode-
Pic. 8 -The Software using in automatic mode-
Pic. 9 -The Software using in manuel mode-
Pic. 8 -The Software using in automatic mode-
Pic. 9 -The Software using in manuel mode-

Use of the StackMaster and its control system helps save time, which can in turn be used in the preparation of the piece and stacking equipment.

This is important, as you need to check the selected mineral, fixate it, prepare it and illuminate it correctly before using the StackingUnit to take the photos. It is here that the most important part of micro minerals: Correctly fixating and illuminating the piece you wish to photograph. I myself need the highest amount of time in finding the correct illumination for any given mineral piece. A rule is to avoid having deep shadows or blooming peaks.
How to do so is where photographers opinions differ the most: Some work with gooseneck lights, others use multiple desk-lamps or movable, single LEDs. A big part of it is how one is used to work with lights.

I have spoken with multiple photographs with the intend of finding out how they work. As a result I found out, that it is rare for a photographer to change to a new system of illumination after getting used to the particular one they are already using.
I myself am in a similar situation:
Around 3 years ago I designed my first Ring Light (8 segments, described in my first report) and commissioned a collogue to build it for me. This particular lamp has been further developed by now and is also used in the Stacking-Unit.

Pic. 10 -The new lamp "SuperNova"-
Pic. 10 -The new lamp "SuperNova"-
Pic. 10 -The new lamp "SuperNova"-


It is mounted directly on the moving table using two metal rods. This has the advantage of moving the light source along with the mineral, ensuring that the illumination stays the same no matter how the table is moved. The Lamp itself can be moved up and down on the two rods it is mounted on, which is useful when dealing with shining crystals or surfaces. One simply needs to shift the lamp up and down until the reflexes have disappeared.
Pic. 11 -Example: Barioharmakosiderit crystal with shining surfaces -
Pic. 11 -Example: Barioharmakosiderit crystal with shining surfaces -
Pic. 11 -Example: Barioharmakosiderit crystal with shining surfaces -

Although it is always better to have more alternatives in reserve, as it is not guaranteed that the aforementioned method will work every time. Personally, I have used black cardboard until recently. I simply held it in front of the LEDs and checked in the monitor if that removed the reflexes.
Pic. 12 -The results of using the different methods of removing the reflexes (moving the lamp, Using black cardboard, dimming the lamp, changing the angle of the segments). Of course it is possible to combine these methods as necessary. -
Pic. 12 -The results of using the different methods of removing the reflexes (moving the lamp, Using black cardboard, dimming the lamp, changing the angle of the segments). Of course it is possible to combine these methods as necessary. -
Pic. 12 -The results of using the different methods of removing the reflexes (moving the lamp, Using black cardboard, dimming the lamp, changing the angle of the segments). Of course it is possible to combine these methods as necessary. -


The new lamp instead uses an 8-channel dimmer to regulate the light emitted by the individual segments in addition to 8 single outputs. These can be used to connect additional lights in the form of gooseneck LEDs.

Pic. 13 -The 8-channel dimmer-
Pic. 14 -The Backsite with 8 single outputs-
Pic. 15 ... with 1 connected gooseneck LED-
Pic. 13 -The 8-channel dimmer-
Pic. 14 -The Backsite with 8 single outputs-
Pic. 15 ... with 1 connected gooseneck LED-
Pic. 13 -The 8-channel dimmer-
Pic. 14 -The Backsite with 8 single outputs-
Pic. 15 ... with 1 connected gooseneck LED-

Furthermore, the new lamp has a setting that convinced me after a few shots using it: It is possible to adjust the angle of every single segment of the lamp using a rotary knob.

Pic. 16 -Different angle of the segments-
Pic. 17 -one segment and the rotary knob to change the angle-
Pic. 16 -Different angle of the segments-
Pic. 17 -one segment and the rotary knob to change the angle-
Pic. 16 -Different angle of the segments-
Pic. 17 -one segment and the rotary knob to change the angle-

The downside to this is that is takes a lot of time to do so and check the result on the monitor.
The only thing I can say that my initial concerns about the usefulness of this method of adjustment have all been laid to rest. If you make the effort to regulate the light down to this point, you will be able to see a significant improvement in the results.

How else those the new version differ from my old lamp?

First, the LEDs are a lot brighter. The light from the LEDs is bundled through use of a collective lens placed in front of the segments, resulting in a small, strong and horizontally aligned beam of light. The diffuser build into the lamp in front of the LEDs has been specifically matched to the LEDs themselves. They have a RA-Value of 85 and 5700 Kelvin, which clearly is reflected in color rendering. In order to avoid reflexes, the individual segments of the lamp have been anodized black.
Pic. 18 -Diffuser and Lens-
Pic. 18 -Diffuser and Lens-
Pic. 18 -Diffuser and Lens-

A truly well thought out unit has been designed with input from actual photographers. The result is something to be proud of. The best part is, in my opinion, the fact that the system is complete in itself.

When I think about how long I needed to build and complete my previous system... The Stacking-Unit has replaced my old, also well functioning system completely.

There are same picture how i make with the new "Stacking Device"
-Xanthokon-
-Brookit-
-Aeschynit-Y-
-Marrit-
-Xanthokon-
-Brookit-
-Aeschynit-Y-
-Marrit-
-Xanthokon-
-Brookit-
-Aeschynit-Y-
-Marrit-


In my next article, I will show how this very same system can be used in macro photography, where the camera is moved horizontally.




Article has been viewed at least 7392 times.

Comments

Edgar, Where do you get all your parts? The lights and stages aren't anything I've managed to find. Are you selling these units? - Chris

Chris DeGrave
29th Aug 2015 5:54pm
Hello Chris,

no i don't sell it.
It is a Fried of me.

Edgar Müller

Edgar Müller
29th Aug 2015 9:25pm
Hi Edgar
That is a serious bit of kit!! Well done.
Great article.

Cheers
Keith

Keith Compton
30th Aug 2015 5:55am
Hello

It looks awesome, but i didn`t find any information about the price.

Kind regards
Fabian Müller

Fabian Müller
6th Sep 2015 9:57pm

In order to leave comments to this article, you must be registered
Mineral and/or Locality  
Mindat.org is an outreach project of the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Copyright © mindat.org and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy 1993-2018, except where stated. Mindat.org relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters.
Privacy Policy - Terms & Conditions - Contact Us Current server date and time: April 19, 2018 10:42:08
View slideshow - Go to top of page