Vine app hack on iPhone makes time-lapse movies


The Vine app is all the rage these days. It lets you shoot six-second videos on your iPhone and easily post them on the Internet. The problem is that [Sean Hodgins] doesn’t find the time limit to be useful for traditional video. But you can cram a lot more info into a half-dozen seconds if you make it a time-lapse video. The rig above is his solution to making the Vine app act as a time-lapse recorder.

The trick is in how the app itself works. It only records video when you’re touching the screen. So you record one second of video, then remove your finger and it ‘pauses’ the recording until you’re ready for the next scene. [Sean] automated this by adding a servo motor and a stylus. An Arduino drives the servo, making quick taps on the screen to get as many different frames into the six seconds as possible. He had a bit of trouble registering quick taps at first. His solution was to inject 3.3V into the stylus he gutted for the project. Click through the link above to see some example videos, or watch this embedded video to see the hardware at work:


  1. Frank says:

    Looks like he used a hammer to begin with before switching to something softer.

  2. Rob says:

    I was also going to comment of the fubarred screen. Oh, I just have

  3. Mr.E says:

    Well you could have just replaced the screen for a couple of bucks and created an app to do this. The result would have been an app which everyone can enjoy and a phone which you yourself could enjoy…

  4. Jordan Earls says:

    I imagine that reverse engineering the app and creating your own timelapse app capable of posting to Vine would’ve had better results :/ (and you could’ve brought it to Android!)

  5. nelsontb says:

    what’s with people using servos for a solenoid job?

  6. Niek Blankers says:

    Couldn’t you just have the stylus on permanently and switch on and off the 3.3V?

    • Ted R says:

      ^– Best response. Others complain about using servo instead of solenoids etc, but they all are ignoring the simplest and best solution.

      (Even simpler would be to use one of the freely available timelapse apps for the iPhone – there are many)

  7. jpa says:

    Just connecting GND to the stylus would have probably had the same effect. It just increases the capacitance that the screen senses. Normally a finger has this huge blob of meat attached to it, while an unconnected stylus has just a few grams of conductive plastic.

  8. nyos says:

    I’m a bit puzzled.. if you have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. This guy apparently has a hammer (see 1st pic :) ), and probably a hardware-fan.

    On the other hand.. it’d be easier to just write an app that takes a picture every Nth milliseconds (configurable), and make a video of them. I’m sure it’s easy to do that on Android, and (if iOS API supports that) it’s also possible on an iPhone. Still pictures are usually better than a video (having higher resolution), so the result is better, and not limited to real-time video encoding – nor 6 seconds time. Apple Play (or whatever it’s called) might even have timelapse apps ready to use.

  9. hodginsa says:

    Hey guys!
    Wow, cool I got on here! It was just a fun little device I felt like making. I’m not even sure how you would go about uploading my own timelapses to vine through a different app. I’m not that advanced in app programming yet.

    As for just turning power on and off in the stylus. As others mentioned I’m sure ground would have worked as well. Didn’t really think of using it though. But the issue was only with slight taps. When held on the screen for a larger amount of time, it would register, even without more capacitance. So turning it on and off would not work, though I imagine some of you would be able to create a device of that sort to make it work. This was just stuff I had laying around and was what I was able to throw it together without too much digging. Plus I’m a sucker for mechanical things.
    Thanks for all the positive comments, and the negative ones! They keep me thinking.
    Keep an eye out for more time-lapse vines made by me. I know there will be more.
    -Sean H.

  10. Yes! says:

    ..This IS a hack.

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