Extending battery life while taking time lapse photos

msp430_camera_control

[Peter] loved using his GoPro HD camera, but he found the time lapse functionality a bit lacking. It wasn’t that there were not enough settings to satiate his needs, but that the camera would run through its batteries in just a few short hours.

He found that the camera did not turn off or enter any sort of sleep mode between shots, wasting precious battery life. He could have simply added a bigger external battery pack to the camera, but for the sake of portability, he had a far better idea in mind.

The GoPro has a pretty well documented interface called the “Hero Bus”, so all it took was a little bit of online research before [Peter] had all the information he needed. The camera has a neat feature that immediately snaps a picture when it is powered on, so he decided that he would use a microcontroller to turn the camera on and off at specific intervals, rather than using its built-in time lapse function. He chose a Texas Instruments MSP430 for the job, since it is very well known for being a power miser.

Once he had his code up and running, he connected it to his camera and found that it worked perfectly right off the bat. Now, he can take anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 shots before the batteries run out, instead of the measly 200 he was getting without the modifications – quite an improvement!

Comments

  1. Elnono says:

    This is HACK A DAY Worthy.

  2. ejonesss says:

    it looks like it uses the same connector as the ipods use so it may be possible to get an ipod charger or dock and wire that up

  3. fartface says:

    something is wrong with his goPro. without his hack I typically get well over 1200 images in a time lapse mode on a set of batteries. so with his setup I could get 12,000 of them.

    He needs to figure out what is wrong with his camera.

    • sawo says:

      You should state your interval. As is mentioned, the camera doesnt sleep. So with one battery you can shoot for a fixed time and do x photos, depending on the interval.

    • Peter says:

      As stated in the referenced web page, I get 1,500-2,000 pictures on a battery charge.

      Without the hack you get about 2 hours worth of pictures. How many depends that is depends on the interval.

      With the hack you get 1,500+ pictures and how long it takes depends on the interval.

  4. GG430 says:

    Nice job, I also like the power source for the MSP430 :-)

  5. Tom says:

    Brilliant

  6. Wolf says:

    I’d love to see more go pro hacks. I have one and it’s amazing.

  7. LF says:

    I like how, if you follow the link threads, you will eventually be able to find the docs for the GoPro Hero HD bus interface pinouts.
    I purchased a GoPro Hero camera recently, and sent their support team an email asking them for the specs on the bus. But they replied to me indicating that it is proprietary.
    Hacking rocks!

  8. Ryan H says:

    My method is probably the easiest, GoPro USB to 12v 1Amp USB cigarette lighter adapter to 12v 7Ah UPS sealed lead acid battery. Its plug and play and $40. Or is this only possible with HD Hero2?

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