Interested in High Speed Photography? What about wildlife photography? Or time lapse photography? If you are here is a gem of a DIY project for the brave among you..
This project is to build a computerised camera controller which you can use to photograph fast moving events such as water drop splashes or balloons bursting, capture wildlife automatically or take time lapse sequences such as flowers opening or a house being built!
Skills you will need to have (or learn!) are soldering, identifying electronic components, making coffee or suitable alternative, ability to donate loads a money to my paypal account – Well, last one is optional actually 😀
So, if you are interested read on, if not bog off and find something else to do..
If you want to check out my first set of photos taken with this controller have a look at My Flickr Set. All 20 photos were taken by setting the controller to take 20 shots and then hitting Run on the controller. You can see the first image in the set was out of sync, I found the bug in the program and corrected it 😉
The completed project will have the following features:
- Easy to use 5 button interface.
- A 4 line LCD display to select modes, enter settings etc.
- Works on any 9-12V dc supply (battery/ mains adapter)
- Interval timer – Set number of frames and interval between frames.
- Various sensor options – Sound activated, light activated, optical switches, laser trip wires etc
- Laser trip wire detector and laser emitter in one housing, just aim at reflective target to set up.
- Sensor sensitivity digitally adjustable with current, maximum and minimum values displayed.
- Single or dual sensor operation.
- 2 dual sensor modes:
- Cross Beam – Object must break both beams at the same time to trigger camera, using 2 laser trip wires crossing each other photo is only taken when something wonders into the crossing point
- Directional – Set up two laser trip wires and photo is only taken if beam 2 is broken within a set time of beam one being broken – Catch birds flying to the nest but not leaving.
- Measure camera shutter lag in milliseconds.
- Delay timers – Set a delay in milliseconds between object being detected and firing camera/ flash – Useful for water splash type photos etc.
- Offset Delay – Added to delay time for each frame – Allows you to create animations of water splashes for example.
- Trigger camera or external flash.
- Built in Nikon DSLR infra red remote – Trigger your D40X/ D80 etc without a shutter release cable.
- Works with almost any camera which has an electronic shutter release cable, or infra red remote release if you are willing to ‘Hack’ the remote.
- Its cheap, at current UK prices about £60 for the controller and about £10 for a laser trip wire.
Interested? then read on..
This project is built using a open source microprocessor board known as the Arduino. As it is open source you can get the development environment to program/ debug it for free, there are thousands of free downloads and projects you can build with it, there is a superb web community to draw on for assistance and most importantly it is cheap as chips 😉
The Arduino boards come in various flavours, even ones you can sew into clothes and build electronic gadgets into your favourite T shirt!
I will begin this DIY project using the Arduino Duemilanove and bread board, this is not best suited to a ‘Finished’ project though as it will not be exactly ‘portable’ When I have covered how it works I will finish up with details of how to build the project using the Arduino Pro Mini board to make a finished portable project you can stick in a box with a battery and take on the road with you.
Which version you go for depends on what you intend to do, if you have little or no interest in microprocessor controllers and just want to build this project then the Pro Mini is the way to go, the connections to the Pro Mini are the same as the Duemilanove except you have to solder the connections to the board and make up another circuit board from veroboard to house the other components. The Pro Mini does not include a USB interface on the board so you will either need to get a breakout board/ lead or get me to upload the program to it for you.
If you are interested in micro-controllers, and maybe want to play about with them making some other cool gadgets, then the Duemilanove is a development board with USB interface for uploading programs and female headers on all inputs/ outputs so you can quickly rig up circuits by plugging in jumper wires to a bread board. Using the Duemilanove and bread board means you can knock this project together without soldering, well almost without soldering as one or two things may still require it.
The Duemilanove also comes with a ‘Started kit’ which includes a slack handful of components such as resistors, LED’s etc and a small bread board. The bread board is very small however and only suitable for the simplest of projects so I would recommend buying the bare Duemilanove and obtaining the bread board (or two) and other components separately.
If there is enough demand for it I may put together kits of components needed for this project, if I get bulk purchases and split them up into kits I should be able to offer them at a better price 😉 If you are interested then please leave a comment on this page.
Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you would like me to email you as I add sections to this tutorial just ask in the comment. If you don’t want your comments shown to the public just use *PRIVATE* as the first line and I wont publish it 😉
Now I have whetted your appetite you should proceed to part two of this extravaganza where I will detail (most of) the tools, equipment and components you will need.