The Road from AXIOM Beta Developer Kit to Production Camera | apertus° - open source cinema

The Road from AXIOM Beta Developer Kit to Production Camera

Developer Kits have been shipping for some time now and we are aware that the most pressing question for many of you is "When will the AXIOM Beta evolve from a Developer Kit to being a production ready camera?" This article should help to answer that question, but keep in mind that the camera has been carefully designed to evolve constantly.

For a detailed itinerary of outstanding tasks and a statement on expected timeframes please see Mission Briefings on the project's Wiki.

Metal Full Enclosure

The work on completing open tasks related to enclosure design is progressing well (Additional help is always appreciated however). We have started visualizing current Full Enclosure CAD files with photo-realistic renders in order to allow for reviewing parts more easily and seeing how things fit together better - allowing viewers to get as close to virtually feeling the camera parts in hand without actually having physical components ready.

Automated Production

If you read our recent Pick and Place Machining article you'll know that we're in the process of automating manual electronic production workflows in-house. Good progress has been made calibrating these machines so that the pin-point accuracy required for populating printed circuit boards is successful. We'll commence the production of automatically produced test boards soon - the problems are always in the details though and small problems can cause the entire process to grind to a halt. This has taken considerable time and effort to master and it was important that we made efforts to accommodate for increased production volumes ahead of shipping AXIOM Beta II's (preferably without relying on third parties) but thankfully our working on Pick and Place machines also allowed us to push open source development in this regard upstream so that other communities can benefit.

Software Rewrite, Camera Control & Automatic Firmware Builds

Most of the firmware/software running inside the AXIOM Beta has been ported code that was originally written for the AXIOM Alpha - up to now our team has been focused on hardware design/manufacturing processes but recreating the camera's software from the ground up is essential. It's true that the Developer Kit's user experience is not tailored for the end-user, eg. There are no buttons on the camera and the only way to effectively control its operations is through a commandline interface - this can intimidate non-programmers so we knew that a built-in WiFi and browser-based control interface had to be devised (this approach will function on any device, any operating system, and any platform as long as it has WiFi connectivity and a browser). Below you can see some screen designs and GUI concepts of how camera control could look. If you want to help us turn this into responsive javascript or simply provide feedback and ideas, then please consider joining the team. Another aspect to supplying a camera's firmware is the need to establish an automated build system so that users can easily download micro SD card image versions and perform updates (to upgrade the firmware or easily try new builds and features). Work on this task is taking place in the Qemu AXIOM Beta virtualization and firmware building task.

AXIOM Beta Control GUI concept

AXIOM Beta Control GUI concept

Additional Challenges

Besides these there are more challenges ahead of course - Once you start selling a product (developer kits are explicitly exempted here) it has to meet certain standard criteria and acquiring certificates such as FCC or CE are mandatory and far from straight forward - the process requires studying law regulations, passing electronic emission lab tests and having various technical formalities approved... these things can be quite expensive and take time too, but as the project negotiates its last remaining hurdles continued patience is greatly appreciated. As always with a community project like ours, your feedback, support and ideas regarding these topics is valued: Contact us

Join Us

It's not too late to contribute or assist either. We humbly accept donations and if you'd be willing to contribute your time and skills you can find first steps to joining the team here. We'd sorely like to redesign the website and some works have been completed in this respect, but as no one on the team is a web developer currently this tends to get put onto the back burner. If you have Drupal experience and would like to help we'd love to hear from you so please do contact us, or if you know anyone who'd be interested in the project then feel free to pass a link to this article on.

Further Links



1 year ago
Kimbray von Grosse

I guess after reading this, the question is still WHEN? I am not looking for a production version, but rather a workable end beta product as I have funded for this. Continue to be very excited about progress and approach but also wanting to get one! But not too early. So when??? :-)

1 year ago

This has been a subject of great dilemma Kimbray.

Including the items described in this article there are ten tasks that need to complete, some of which are more complex than others. Works on an SDI plug-in module have now commenced and a finished component is expected in the first half of November. We're confident over this time frame but with this in mind it's safe to say that the camera won't be shipping in time for December.

Because we're a small team, and because some of us have commitments running alongside the project, it can be difficult to make accurate predictions with respect to exactly when specific tasks will complete but, when discussing this 'last leg' towards shipping, a consensus has been that we'd like to try for January/February 2018, and provided there are no significant setbacks this is potentially realistic, however, as detailed in this article there are some necessary provisions that fall outside of our control - namely, the FCC and CE certification... so some emphasis certainly needs to be put on the word "try". In truth, and at this stage, we've no idea how long the certification process might take. This is the kind of information that the community will be updated with over the next six months though. It should be noted that the greater the number of people contributing their time and skills to the project the quicker the camera will ship of course.

Generally all concerned are wary of being specific with respect to dates at this stage as it would be foolhardy to make promises that we're not certain can be kept.

Trusting this message has been helpful all the same.

Thank you.

1 year ago

Regarding speed of FCC and CE approvals, it's mainly safety and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Regarding safety, as you are all low-voltage, all should be very easy if your standard mains power supply is approved. Regarding EMC, if you didn't design the product, and in particular all its interfaces to withstand perturbations and to not emit perturbations, then you need to schedule for at least 2 PCB iterations in your timing...and a fast-course on EMC asap...

1 year ago
Kimbray von Grosse

Thank you for the more detailed update. As stated in this forum, we are all in awe of your groups ability to make this possible. We are all also very excited to get working to show the magic of this wonderful tool to create art. We will be patient and excited all in one as we wait for our beta cameras! I can wait.... :-)

1 year ago

Hello I am funder,

One of the issues I have always had with this project is these long explanations that don't give a clear answer. Only when the guy asked you for a clearer date do you say the months you expect. That should have been said in the article it self ( January/February 2018) as that was what the article was suppose to answer. Also, this doesn't give confidence for the next project you will ask funding for. I get that you are a small team and that it takes time, but the way it is being explained or the "funny" videos that you make has become a thing of annoyance due to there not being clarity.

When I say clarity, if you simply said summer 2018, I would have still been ok with it, but the guy still had to ask to get clarity after I sat and read that long explanation. Even answering the direct question the standard thing of explaining something else (the progress of things) was done again.

He had a direct question. That question was when. The answer was as simple as writing: The goal is for January/February 2018. That was it. Even the long article didn't answer that question even-though that was the premise in the intro of the article.

I like the idea of the project, but the expectations are being mismanaged. Also the seriousness of the delay doesn't see to be coming thru in the videos that are being posted on the site (the schetches that are done). Just hope this changes things.

11 months ago

Hi Jeffrey,

Thanks for supporting the project and for your feedback.

Your points have been noted and we'll use them in the future to improve articles and videos. It's true that the goal is to begin shipping AXIOM Beta II around Spring 2018 and contributors should be aware that we're all doing our best to perfect developments with this in mind... no one on the team wants to let anyone down though so this should be received as precisely that - a goal, as opposed to a promise, which is something we're unable to make at this point.

Edit - I've also included a link to the statement Re time-frames on the project's Wiki page in the opening of this article.

Thanks again.

1 year ago

With dream getting my hands a Beta some time in the future for no more than its function to make movies. Will all I would like to say is my dream in in good hands. I know what it is like to work on ambitious projects guys. The pressure to get it out there etc. What I admire about this is your unflappable enthusiasm. It shows grate character, Remember the saying the difficult takes a long time, the impossible a bit longer.
Wish i had usable skills to offer but all I have is the support or one of your loyal 500

11 months ago
Victoria Siempre

if that can help guys, thank God you don't need to reinvent the wheel, thos guys apparently went through the CE FCC process

Now I can see two thing at least: 1. it's not just about getting the approval, it is about prevent your competion from killing you right away .
2. you might have someone coming your way offering to help you through this process and stealing your product...
guess what samsung did fail with their batteries for Note 7 stil they never lost their CE certificates so the process is certainely more difficult than what you expect. But keep it up.

9 months ago

One thing I've told Red, is rather than say nothing say you expect it will be at least X time period/after date. If it is latter than that date, you are still right, as you already said it could be after too.

Cineform has open sourced it's codec in 4:2:2, 4:4:4, very good, very processing efficient (and they were planning an FPGA version years ago). The raw Bayer version is $20 a unit (well worth it) under the confirm derived vc-5 codec standard licensing.

Another thing is, sensors have advanced a lot, and it is time to look for better sensors. Now 8k is going to be a thing soon, 8k sensors are out, and 8k raw data makes better 4k pictures (like Canon did).

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