Asked — Edited

Help Me Build A Robotic Photographer Wiht Sony Party-Shot

HI I'm a newbie and appreciate any help I can get. I already did a search for photographer and sony party shot and did not see any previous discussion. Here is what I want to make.

Basically it is an Irobot Create with a light 4.75 ft tall aluminum pole on which a sony party shot module is mounted on top of. If there is a better robot base to use let me know. I would like to keep the total project cost under $600. I already have $100 invested in the sony partyshot+digital camera. the sony party shot is basically an automatic camera system that has facial detection that will automatic scan and rotate the surroundings looking for people to take photos of. I envision using it at corporate parties, weddings and just random stuff for fun.

I have never done any robotics work, but I am very techy. My programming experience is very small. I took a BASIC class about 12 years ago in college.

I may add a R2D2 Skin over the unit to give it a starwars theme, but I'm worried about weight and balance. It maybe too top heavy. It needs to be around 4.5 to 5 feet tall total so the photos look like they were taken at a normal angle. I will probably add some kind of bumper system at the top, because it's bound to get knocked over. I may also weld up some aluminum tube anti tip extentions so the unit is harder to knock over.

OK, that's the background here is my questions. I want to program it to randomly go around a room and pause for say 40 seconds , scan and take shots, then move around 10 to 15 feet in any random direction and start all over. I think the Create base will need to stop or the camera will get too confused and not do a good job. I have never used either device so perhaps this hypothesis is incorrect. I looked at the Create Module's instructions and see that it has some demo modes

"MODE 0 Cover Create attempts to cover an entire room using a combination of behaviors, such as random bounce, wall following, and spiraling."

I like mode zero, but I think I would only want random bounce, not spiraling. Can anyone recommend a programmer to do this?

I also want some kind of sensor so that it does not run into objects and people. I've seen the roomba hit things before they change direction. I'd prefer the sensor be used to avoid hitting things; i was thinking a 2' proximity would be fine.

Should I jsut buy the $235 ez robot kit with the Create module from irobot? Has someone already made a robot that does this sort of thing I can just buy? Seems like a pretty basic function set, but I've never built a robot.

Any other suggestions will be appreciated. thanks for your time.

PS originally posted this at the forum, but someone suggested this set.


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All of what you ask (and more) is possible with EZB... and very easy too.

A combination of Sonar (ultrasonic) and IR detectors for obvect/human avoidance. Possibly another camera for tracking faces, colours etc. you could set it to follow someone wearing red which could be fun...

A simple explore script would do, I'm writing one for my bot using 3 IR sensors and 1 ultrasonic, 1 IR detects if it's about to run anything over, if it is it'll stop, back up a bit and avoid it. 1 detects objects directly infront of it at low level an 1 at high level, the ultrasonic works with the high level one too, just for extra safety.

No wall bouncing required:)

You could also make it controllable via joystick for manual mode. Or give it pre-programmed routes.

It's all very easy with the EZB and ARC.

Sorry if this post is a little rushed and lacks much real info, I'm insanely busy tonight so haven't got the time to give as much info as I usually like to. When I get more time I'll expand on suggestions etc.


That's a good idea! Neat:)

RichMR2 is correct - it'll probably take you about 10 minutes to get it working with a joystick, wiimote, speech commands, etc.. You can spend a bit more time creating small scripts to customize the features you wish. But the generic functions you request will not require any programming.

Do the following:

  1. Download and install ARC

  2. Press Add Control and select Robots, Roomba Movement Panel

  3. To control by joystick, press Add Control, Misc and select Joystick

  4. To control by WiiMote, press Add Control, Misc and select WiiMote

  5. To control by speech, press Add Control, Speech, Speech Recognition

Each control has a ? (question mark) next to the X (close). Press it and you'll be directed to a tutorial page for that control.


I was going to buy an Irobot CREATE unit. Basically a roomba without all the cleaning functions. Will your ARC main board and software work with the CREATE unit?

I dont' really want to control it via joystick, wiimote or speech. I want it to simply wonder around taking random pictures of people at events. I am a photographer, so it will just be a novel side kick. I'll be too busy taking photos of the event.

I assume I will need to buy the following: EZ-B v3 Bluetooth Robot Controller $136.00 Distance Sensor for $10.99 anything else I should get?


RichMR2, let me know if you will sell me your script and what IR sensors you recommend. I actually love tinkering with things, but I've got too many other projects I'm envolved with and I'm just trying to get this off the ground as soon as possible. I appreciate your response even though you are busy!


nobody i know sells the script ,mostly we help others for free can you emali also i see you are a aluminim welder and i have some questions about a MIG elder for aluminium mostly i am electronic engineer and my main fields is sensors and every type made

So i can help with getting the right sensor,does your camera also have jack for camera switch or remote


The camera is controlled by the Sony Party Shot base which automatically rotates, tilts, zooms, composes and takes the photos using facial recognition.

The problem is that if you just set it on a table you get the same boring perspective every time. By attaching it to a robot I think the quality of pictures and the interactive aspect will be a lot more fun.

Unfortunately I have never mig welded anything. I only tig weld. There is a great forum at they will answer any AL mig welding questions. my email is rollandelliott at gmail dot com

Please recommend some sensors that will work with the EZboard.



well it depends what you want the sensors for.some are for navigation and path planing,so are for people detection,some for objects in the path of the robot, Almost any sensor made with work with EZB

ALso why not use PVC pipe instead its lighter and super easy to use

i have seen a create robot with a digtal camera ,but not with partyshot,i check it out and its very cool.

Also the scripts are so easy to make,a 10 year can do it without any programming needed

Thats what makes this EZB design so easy to program

once you have a plan on sensors needed someone here will help you with the code or check the exaples also and EZ-Cloud for codes

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Robotmaker is right, I will not sell you my script, I will share it once it's done. Although currently my workload has increased tenfold and it doesn't look like I will have much "bot time" for the next few weeks so it may be a while. Although my script probably wont suit your needs but it'll be easily adapted and provided I have the time when that moment comes I'd be more than happy to help with it.

Robotmaker has more knowledge on sensors, I'm sure he will advise on which are best to use for your purposes.

From your specification I assume you just want the sensors for object/person avoidance, so any which will detect something or someone when they are 2 foot from the robot. Path planning I assume should be completely random to get the best range of shots from all angles.

What I'm thinking is for the robot to slowly move around, then sit still for a few seconds while the camera spins and shoots and does it's thing, then off for another little joyride to another location, rinse and repeat. That would be a very simple script which read the ping or IR sensor(s) when the robot is moving so it doesn't accidently bump in to anyone.

I can imagine there will be a lot of chairs and tables at these functions so detection would need to be a narrow cone, but again, Robotmaker will advise there I'm sure.

If the camera has a remote input to start looking for faces and taking photos this could also be wired in to the EZB for the EZB to tell it to start when it stops moving and then stop before it moves again to save any crazy blured photos or too much confusion for the face recognition in the camera.

Hell, go one step further and add an MP3 module with a sound bite of "say cheese" or "smile for the camera" to add come fun and comedy to it.

To add manual, joystick control to it would be a 2 minute job and cost only as much as a wireless joystick too if ever you wanted to add the feature.

One other slight issue to overcome is the bluetooth module on the EZB has about a 10 meter range at best, mine only reaches around 6 meters before it disconnects. It may be worth looking at adding an on board PC (which could also be used to instantly save the cameras photos, using a mobile wifi dongle upload to the internet or add a printer for instant prints... add a screen and have it display a slideshow of the days photos... the possibilities are endless (and what did I say about over complicating things in my first reply? See how easy it is).


"I assume you just want the sensors for object/person avoidance, so any which will detect something or someone when they are 2 foot from the robot. Path planning I assume should be completely random to get the best range of shots from all angles."

Yep you described my goals perfectly. I might use an Eye-Fi card in the camera to transmit images wirelessly to a slideshow computer.

I'm going to go ahead and order the ezboard and distance sensor and then hopefully get my hands dirty:) :)

Thanks for the support.

Also @ robot maker, I can get very thing aluminum tube around 0.040" thick so it is very light, even lighter than PVC. Plus I like to weld stuff!

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A little tip, wait 3 days before ordering the EZB;) A little birdy tells me the price may be about to drop but shhh it's a secret:)


RICH is right will be tables and chairs so narrow cone sonar is your best bet,3 in front center and one on each side at a angle

NOW 2 ways to ways to get a narrow cone sonar,buy one at about $30 or make one using a low cost sonar witch is hard mazsonar has narrow cone sonars,plus each sonar you should have IR sensor ,they are about $10 each

SONAR only picks up some materials and same with IR,so having both will pick up everything in its path

second not so easy to add a computer,plus adding extra w eight and bigger battery,so great sloution is using a WIFI in place of the bluetooth module,there is a example on how to add it easy

Another item can be added ,sound detector so when someone is talking it turns the roomba near it and takes a picture


on ALUMINIUM i love using it alot too,most of my projects use it,and from the forum you posted

For light welding a MIG welder with a spool gun looks good, 1/4 inch angle aluminium is most i am going to weld,mostly make aluminium frames for my robots using rivets ,still going to use rivets only spot bead a few spots.

One example is my omnibot 2000 project USING ALUMINIUM in base ,arms ,frame,and more

I hate using hot-melt glue,many problems using it or fiberglass like others use

i MADE a very big machine shop with almost every type of machines and tools in it

I did by mistake buy a small MIG welder,so i guess i will sell it and get a higher amp rating with spool gun thats needed


I did a google search for mazsonar, but couldnt' find the source you are referencing. Can you give me a link to buy these sonar/IR sensors?

Most of these social events have loud music I dont' think a sound detection sensor would be all that effective due to ambient noise levels.

I would like to add a small LED light on top to aid in cameras focusing.

For hobby welding I like the Longevity sx160. It's $620 at, plus you will need filler rod and a steady hand and some argon gas!


Sorry i meen maxsonar

mb1030 maxsonar narrow cone On that welder is it better then MIG WELDER at 175 amps with spool gun for $449 ,plus i need argon gas too

AND easy to use then a MIG welder,since i welded before with a MIG welder i know you have to prime the aluminium ,by sanding the oxidation off

Never used a TIG WELDER ,arc welding and gas yes

what i am welding is 1/4 inch to 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch angle aluminium ,and just a few spot welds


thanks I'll order 5 of those, . I'm assuming they are much better at about $30 each than the distance sensors available for around $10 at the EZ robot store?

now how about the ir sensors which ones do you recommend for that?

from reading the forum it looks like the Sharp GP2D12 is recommended. They are $9 each here. Is there a better place to buy them?


yes thats the one and JUNUN is where i get mine too,cheapest i found is there

sonars AT EZ-ROBOT has wide cones,and you would need a tube plus foam material to have a narrow cone

at the same time they are 5 ma current draw ,compare to sonars like the ones robot store sells at 35 ma current draw,plus higher accuracy second you need 2 in the back in case a person walks in back of the robot or the robot bumps into something.

When you get them its little different pins to hook it up.but still works the same as EZ-ROBOT types

On IR if you want narrow detection you set it on top of sonar vertical laying it flat or horizontal you get wide detection or wide cone pattern


thanks, I guess I'll spend the extra money and get the narrow cone ones even if they are 3x the price, looks like I need a total of 7! 3 in front 2 on the sides 2 in the back.

I guess building robots is an expensive hobby! $300 bucks in sensors right off the bat. Not sure my $600 budget is going to take this abuse.

as far as welding 1/4" aluminum, you're gonna have a tough time getting full penetration at only 175 amps, aluminum is a great heat sink, and you need around/over 200amps to do 1/4 aluminum well. And you'll also need a 220v power source so hopefully you know how to do residential wiring. the 200dx might work for you @ $900.00


can buy a 5 pack for $124.75 and add 2 more at about $30 each or buy 10 at $219.50


yeah I'll probably just get the 10 pack, but by the time you add S&H and buy 7 IR sensors, i'm up to $300 easily.


last time shipping was very cheap,i always buy 10 at a time i think i am up to $10,000 easy on my robot designs and machine shop

second what i see about TIG welder there are a lot of controls ,compare to a MIG WELDER with only 2 controls,looking for a cheap welder since very little use of it

ALSO dont need it for strengh .only it doesnt go side to side with one rivet in the center

it is 1/2 inch wide angle aluminium most are 1/8 thick ,but some 1/4inch with 1/8 inch made into a frame design,like aluminium 4 sided box shape


I kinda made a big mistake ,i am not using 1/4 inch aluminium as much its 1/8 inch to 1/8 inch and some 1/8 inch to 1/16 inch angle aluminium 1/2 inch wide,and just a few spot welds to help it from moving instead of using 2 rivets.

need my frame as very light as possible


the 160sx will do that easily then, it is a harder learning curve than mig from what I have read, but also makes a very nice weld.


not too much worried about a nice weld since it wont be seen,problem with me is learning curve.i think is way over my head and looks very hard to use.

so need to ask around for cheapest way,easy to setup and still do a fair job ,only a tack weld is what i really need

So far what i found is a $400 mig welder 175 amps with spool gun and gas regulator,plus free shipping and says it does welds up to 3/8 inch thick aluminium( lotos MIG175)


if all you want to do is tack and you are only doing it a few times a month just buy a rosebud propane torch (do NOT use the older style torches they do not get as hot) and some aluminum brazing rods at harbor freight watch the first few videos.

Here's the thing about brazing, it works best on small pieces less than a foot in length. Large pieces of AL simply act as a heat sink and move the heat away from the brazing zone. If you have to do large pieces you can put the pieces on top of a stove with burners on to give the pieces heat or put insulation around the pieces so the heat keeps the metal hot.

also don't heat the brazing rod, you heat the base metal and when it gets hot enough the rod simply melts when it touches the hot AL.

search for aluminum brazing in the TITLE ONLY and there is a lot of good tips as well.


Well I figgured out that you have to have a pc for ez robot to work so I've modified my design so that the pc is part of the robot.

And since I have to have a pc, I might as well use the screen to play a slide show of the images that the robot takes via a wifi SD memory card. Furhtermore I might as well add a small battery powered dye sub pritner so that guests can take home a print. Might as well add a professional quality flash on top so the pictures look good too.

Luckily I have all of these things, other wise the cost to make this would of just quadroopled.

User-inserted image



The camera you are using does it have a hotshoe or sync output,thats another place you can make a tap point to turn on MP3 file using a digtal input and script.

you what the mp3 say cheese or smile before the flash not when it flashes.


Wow, now that's some good thinking. When I first read this thread a few days ago I thought it would be kinda creepy having a robot moving around the room snapping pictures of people. However now that your've given the subjects of the roving photographer a way to interact with the robot snapping their pictures and a way for them to benefit it seems less invasive. Could I suggest that you include a "Opt Out" button that a subject could press before their picture is taken? Some may consider it a invasion of privacy if not given the choice. sick

Other then that I think this is a very cool concept. Please keep posting on your build and progress.


i have seen this design been done before on a irobot platform,thaey wasent using EZB need to find the link

here is one link i found

robotic photographer


check the video it says cheese and smile for the camera and then takes a picture then uploads to to flicker or i guess you can use a wireless (wifi) printer


Actually that's pretty cool. I can see this being used at wedding receptions and office parties. Of course it really takes out the human factor of choice and angle. The artistic and stealth elements of photography are gone. For example; how can this little machine capture the loving first kiss and that look in the eyes of a bride and groom as they dance their wedding dance at the reception. It could be a nice addition to a human photographer at one of these functions or even at an entrance of a amusement park like Six Flags or Disney Land.


yes you are correct,i bought so many digital camera's and i have a pro slr digital camera and another for underwater, so it is hard to capture the right photos ,plus able to set the F stop ,aperture,ISO setting and more on point and shoot its a lot easy. \i think at parties and some wedding photos would be ok,it wont give you professional photos


Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 (RDS 4) looks interesting, It looks like you need to know how to program C# in order to use it though?

I really do like how the kinetic sensor can track down people and go to them for photos. Wonder what the robot does when it is surrounded by many people?

Darn there are soo many choices Ez-robot, Axion, Arundio, and now Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 4 (RDS 4). I'm guessing ez-rob0t is still the easiest to use. too bad it doesn't support the kinetic sensor, that is what makes the robot in that video work so well.

The camera height is wayyy too low.

Also Unless I learn how to hack into the sony party shot robot , having the robot say something BEFORE It takes the pictures will be hard to do.

Lastly I like that platform in the video, wonder how much it costs and weighs?


you dont need the EDDIE platform,on camera height you can add tilt to get more height.

what i see they are using remote port to first say cheese and then trigger the camera to take a picture with flash

I been thinking about you design for awhile and i have a sensor i use in my designs its a small IR people sensor,called PIR SENSOR AMN22111,ABOUT $15 AT DIGIKEY now you can get PIR SENSORS made mostly for alarms ,but you cant set the trigger point

Since it analog you can set many trigger points for one person or many,then first trigger mp3 and then a delay and take a photo,also have a blinking light to let the person camera getting to take a photo and set it solid when photo is taken

here is a link to my project using that type of sensor,very tiny

my brookstone rover hack


that link on the paparazzi robot doesnt work here it is again and many photos of the robot on how it was made

paparazzi by ken rinaldo

i would may be latter make a design kinda like that ,but with adjustable pole tripod looks better then one pole,mainly it may fall over,no way to balance its self with out a gyro


thanks for that link, the photos look horrible. Even with the two side flashes the people look like stunned deer in the headlights look most of the time. Maybe the artist was going for that based on this paparazzi theme. The whole description is over the top esoteric. It's a robotic camera, not a baptism into the digital realm LOL. Guess you gotta hype it up somehow.

also found out about turtle bot and ROS platform. unfortunately this also requires programming skillz.


I see they are using a point and shoot camera,plus lighting it another problem,i dont think with that designs you can get a professional photo

best camera is a SLR DIGITAL,like my CANON REBEL 12.2 MEG ,can change any len attachments

I see on the on the sony party-shot they not making it any more ,plus the camera's that work with it.


YES i build my own turtlebot is uses LINUZ AND ROS software ,plus KINECT SENSOR Programming not too hard ,much info on the site to set it up AND me me my programming is bad,but not for turtlebot software plus they have a usb DRIVE with all software ,so it plug and play

I didnt know about the drive when i installed mine


So what do you think is the best/easiest platform for this task? Microsoft RDS, or Turtlebot ROS, or EZ robot?

I'm actually a photographer by trade, so I know a DSLR is "better", but honestly I'll be setting resolution down to 4MP or less so the computer can process and print files out fast and play them on the slide show monitor quickly......... 12MP is over kill for this situation. And the main reason the pictures are so "bad" is because the background at the "exhibit" is black.

Lastly I got the party shot and camera used off ebay for dirt cheap. The party shot robot takes care of camera firing, composition, face and smile recognition.

Having to reprogram that functionality into my robot would be a tremendous task for my first robot.

Maybe a future upgrade!


I would say EZB is the easest to use,best kinda hard to say until DJ has a interface to KINECT 4 mb is a file file size,i mostly use RAW OR 12.2 mb,plus i do a lot of underwater photography looking at making a robot soon for that using EZB

Scripts are easy even for a non -programmer like you or me.

only problem i see is tapping the firing of the camera,any remote input on camera or party-shot

looking at amazon i do see the party shot for $28 and looking to get it.

WHEN i do i can hack it and find the tap point to trigger the camera,mostly its where is connects to the camera,from there the rest is very easy to do and make scripts for


I should be getting my sony partyshot soon. I'll see how hackable it is.


I dont know yet,i just ordered one from amazon for $28.00, once i get it and troubleshoot it ,witch company i work for says i am one of the best they had.



I just got it today,so will start hacking it and will post the info,might need to buy a camera that goes with it to check the signals with my scope.


I had to get the camera to work out the wires to it,i found out that i got the camera monday,but i have to wait 10 days till i get back from my work trip in china

HAVE you done anything with it yet