The slogan of the Dictator is "real buttons and knobs" and that basically sums it up in 4 words. It means camera control with tactile feedback instead of or in addition to a touchscreen (which is very versatile but not desireable in some situtations). Not just old-school DOPs prefer having physical buttons to press :). The dicator will be an Axiom accessory but is also compatible with the Elphel camera. Read more about the Dictator on the project page.
The Spaghetti Prototype
Some people may remember the first protoype I created some time ago and posted pictures like this one on the left on the apertus° forums. It had a lot of wires as I for no apparent reason (for me now) tried to connect all buttons exactly like the concept model planned them to be. After I realized these cable spaghetti are impossible to debug properly as you can't even see the solder points below them anymore I decided to start from scratch - but with a simple setup this time.
The Breadboard Prototype
This new prototype has only 3 buttons but uses all the essential other components (like microcontroller [Arduino], LCD, i2c interface extender). Don't worry the final Dictator will have a whole lot more buttons and knobs. It was much more convinient to debug and basic LCD drawing, navigation and interaction is working already even though it just uses demo settings for now and there is no camera that the device sends commands to yet.
Flash Memory - give me more...
So far so good - but now my software is growing and already breaking the flash memory size limits of the Arduino Diecimila which only has 14KB of available flash memory. I am thinking about getting a Teensy++ 2.0 which is similar to the Arduino Micro/Mini but has more than four times as much Flash memory. Hopefully I wont exceed these memory limits as well later in the project :)
If you want me help fund some more electronic parts for the dictator go over to the donation widget and choose the Dictator interface. Now comes the fun part, watch this video of me changing settings and navigating the menu on the LCD. Basically everything to control a camera would already be in place with these 3 buttons and the menu structure - but don't worry we won't stop here :)