The camera axe


The Camera Axe is an open source system for doing high speed camera triggering. You know all those pictures people get of balloons popping or drops of water in mid splash? This is how they do it. The system has light sensors and sound sensors to help get the timing just right. It can trigger your camera and the flash to capture images at just the right moment. There are a lot of picture examples on the site as well as a full schematic and parts list. Not too bad for roughly $100.


  1. momotarosan says:

    here is another Arduino based sound/light flash trigger

  2. Etan says:

    Both of those rock!

  3. Alchemyguy says:

    Just wanted to be the first to get the “How is this a hack?” comment in.

    Srsly though, very cool stuff.

  4. nimrod says:

    hmm do u think it is possible to attach an flash sensitive optical sensor to it as well as a flash module? thus u trigger the flash of european speed cams while speeding on the highway. the module will then flash them back and render the picture useless. just a thought.

  5. Zagro says:

    Any one notice that this pcb seems rather simple?

    look at it…. it’s an instruction manual in itself if your familiar with the pic/propeller/whatever there using.

  6. Till says:

    flashing back is already used in special license tag holders but does not work at all – after scanning the chemical photography they can enhance the contrast easily and reveal the number.

  7. robocat says:


    For anyone with Canon cameras they can use CHDK for free to do some types of motion detection:

    The camera axe looks better for getting the timing exact, or for trigger multiple cameras.

  8. ribblem says:

    Thanks to everyone for your comments.

    robocat, chdk is a very slick piece of software. Chdk works on mostly point and shoot cameras like Canon’s powershot series. I really wish someone could get it working on higher end SLR cameras, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has. Even if it did work on SLR cameras it would not be solving the same problem. There is some overlap like timelapse. In general Camera Axe is more about extending your camera with new hardware which allows things to be very quick. Chdk modifies software and for things like motion detection is very slow in comparison. That said I really think chdk is nice software and would highly recommend anyone at all interested in trying it to do so.

  9. Dalton says:

    Long time reader, first time posting.

    Just wanted to add that there is an alternative for high-speed photography triggering systems:

    They sell kits that with a little mod, can achieve the exact same results at nearly 1/10 of the costs of the one stated by the OP.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  10. therian says:

    i like how buttons are done, simple and practical

  11. Curtman says:

    therian: Except it looks like right is on the left, and left is on the right. I wonder why.

  12. ribblem says:

    This is because the buttons are soldered to the opposite side of the board. This means you need to mirror the button positions because the board is getting flipped. The pictures on the blog show this and if you think about it works.

  13. Concino says:

    Ribblem, I guess the ghosting is happening because you are not using a strobe. If you trigger a strobe flash with camera I think you’d get much better results.

  14. ribblem says:

    Thanks concino, the 580ex used to produce good results. Then I dropped it and I damaged it. I know what’s wrong, but I can’t fix it at a reasonable price so I need a new flash. If you have a canon flash (or something similar) you should put it into manual mode and it’s lowest power setting (1/128th for the 580ex). This will normally cause a 1/40,000th second burst of light which is more than fast enough to freeze the motion of things I’m doing.

  15. srilyk says:

    Am I the only one disappointed by not finding a camera attached to the head of an axe???

  16. robocat says:


    CHDK can be used with an SLR or any camera: use a cheap point&shoot running CHDK to trigger the other camera.,3097.0.html

    CHDK hackers are working on making CHDK available for Canon DSLR cameras:,33.0.html

    I do love custom purpose hardware though!

  17. Quite Interesting Great post with Great stuff.That sounds pretty cool. Really helpful thanks for the Article, Great job, hope we can expect more articles. All the Best caleb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,449 other followers