Adding to a Steenbeck ST1500

I am seeking a little advice from anyone who has set up Keyence reflective sensors for detecting sprocket holes and triggering a camera.

A while back I tried using a SI2K camera on the Steenbeck but due to the camera having a rolling shutter, I was forced to view the film through the prism shutter. The image was not all that good so I gave up on that path before I designed a timing wheel and arrangement for setting off an automotive hall effect sensor.

I have recently modded a Retroscan Universal with a FLIR Blackfly 4K camera, use Spinview for recording and use a hack to slow the film transport speed to about 7FPS for my PC and the USB3 path to be able to cope.

I want to move the existing 2K camera to the Steenbeck and trigger it with the Keyence units MC8P and FSN40, which were observed in the Retroscan when i had it apart for a lamp mod and took a look at other parts.

Beyond the Keyence units , in the Retroscan Mark 2, there is a custom mainboard interposed between the Keyence units and the trigger cable to the camera and a secret sauce which slaved the take-up motor to a reference to control film transport speed.

I do not need or want to try to emulate the Retroscan system downstream of the Keyence units nor have the ability to understand it. The slowest transport speed of the Steenbeck is slow enough for the original 2K camera, a FLIR Chameleon to work with Spinview.

My quest therefore is to find the means of directly triggering the camera or discover a product which can be interposed between the Keyence devices and the camera.

I have a spare PC which I would use with the Steenbeck for reviewing film.

While I had some successes in rescuing broken Blackmagic Ursa cameras. I know only enough about electronics to be a danger unto myself.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Which one is the ST1500? I don’t think I’ve seen that one. I used to have an ST1901 - it previously belonged to DA Pennebaker and he cut his film The War Room on it. Odd machine with stereo heads that caused me no end of trouble since 16mm stereo isn’t really a thing. Came to a sad end, unfortunately.

It had a digital frame counter that used a simple optical sensor on one of the motor shafts and there was a plug on the back of the machine for that to connect to. Since all the motors are belted together (assuming you have them all engaged simultaneously), you might look at doing something like this, or if you already have an encoder on the machine, somewhere under the hood, just tapping into that output to use as a camera trigger. Since the steenbeck is sprocketed it seems like it would be a simpler solution than trying to detect perfs, and would be more foolproof in cases where perfs are broken or missing.

The topic title should read ST1600. I am not sure how to fix that. This Steenbeck is an old four-plate 16mm machine I bought secondhand in the late 1980s. It had been used for TV news and is well worn.

oh yeah - the “portable” one.

I’m not familiar with that model specifically, but from what I’ve seen it’s a lot like my old 6 plate inside. First thing I’d do is look for a shaft you can attach an encoder to. You’d need to figure out how far the film goes in one rotation, which shouldn’t be too hard to do. Even a simple photo sensor with a disc that rotates through it and has punch marks or lines corresponding to each frame would be enough to activate a trigger.

A quadrature rotary encoder that you can attach to a shaft is even better, because you can derive both speed and direction from that as well. Then you know your absolute position even if you move around manually. Though that’s more complicated to set up. I’ve only used them in the context of hardware that has a dedicated encoder input, like a CNC control board, so I don’t really know what’s involved on the programming side with reading those signals, but I bet there are arduino or rpi libraries for that.