Sense & Spray Air Freshener Says Cheese


What happens when you take a remote controlled tarantula, an automatic air freshener, some PVC tube and a mechanical trigger release for a camera? Well, it’s definitely a hack, that’s for sure — you get a remote camera shutter release!

[Michael] loves his Panasonic LX7, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have a trigger release! It does however except a hot shoe adapter to use with a manual release. All [Michael] had to do now was make it remote controlled.

If you’ve ever taken apart an automatic air freshener you know that they are a treasure trove of parts, ripe for the hacking. Specifically, they have a very nice linear actuator which can be used for all kinds of fun things. In this case, it works great for pressing the manual shutter release cable. The next step is controlling it. To do this, [Michael] found a cheap RC toy, a $10 stuffed tarantula oddly enough — By taking it apart he was able to make use of its controller to turn on the air freshener, effectively turning his contraption into a remote controlled shutter release.

[Read more...]

Smile Meter Reacts to Your Expressions With Pharrell’s Happy

MIT's Smile Meter

Here’s a clever use of a webcam and some facial recognition software — They call it Happy ++ and it will DJ [Pharrell's] Happy according to how much you’re smiling (or not at all!).

It’s another project to come out of MIT’s Media Lab for a spring event this year by [Rob, Dan & Javier]. The facial tracking software was re-used from an older project, the MIT Mood Meter, which was a clever installation that had several zones on campus tracking the apparent “happiness” of the students walking by.

To create the program they’ve split up the song Happy into its various components. Drums, vocals, band, and the full mix. As the webcam recognizes a smile, it records the intensity, which in turn turns up the vocals and band. If no smiling is present there is only a drum beat.  [Read more...]

Repairing a Nikon D3


There are few products out there as electronically and mechanically complex as a modern DSLR. Between the sensor, shutter, various LCD screens, and Flexible Printed Circuit boards (FPC) running everywhere, it’s enough to make even the most organized DIY repair person quake in fear. [TiN] over at the EEVblog forums wasn’t scared off though, as he bought a broken Nikon D3 on eBay in hopes of repairing it.

The D3 was Nikon’s top of the line professional camera in 2008. With a 12 Megapixel Full frame sensor and a host of other features, used models still command a good portion of the original $5000 USD price. [TiN's] camera was described as having been dropped, and was dead on arrival, exactly as it had been described on eBay. The battery door was destroyed, so [TiN] connected an external supply. The camera was still dead, so it was time to dig in. Thanks to the internet, [TiN] was able to find a service manual for the camera. He decided to check the power supply board next. A TO225 package transistor with an obvious hole blown in the front was a good starting point.

[TiN] replaced the transistor and the camera sprang to life. The main LCD showed the live sensor view, and it would take pictures. All was not perfect though, as the two auxiliary LCDs were still dead, and the D3’s mirror would get stuck every other shot, leading to an error display.

Click past the break for the rest of [TiN's] story.

[Read more...]

Catching Drops of Water With LEDs

Ever wonder how they capture seemingly perfectly timed photographs of water droplets? Most of the time it’s done by using an optointerrupter whereby it detects the droplet falling and then triggers a light source a few milliseconds later with your camera ready and waiting.

This is typically done with something called an air gap flash, which is usually rather expensive or difficult to make, but [Michal's] figured out another easier way suitable for some applications — using an array of LEDs to illuminate the scene.

He’s got a IR diode, a photo-resistor, a few spacers, some plastic and  a bunch of hot glue to make up his optointerrupter. When the droplet passes through the IR beam it breaks the signal from the photo-resistor which then triggers his ATmega48P. It waits 80 milliseconds (he timed it out) and then turns on the LEDs for approximately 50 microseconds. Meanwhile his camera is watching the whole event with a shutter-speed of a few seconds.

This works because LEDs have rise and fall times that are much shorter than a traditional camera flash — normal flashes light up for 1-2 milliseconds, as opposed to this 50 microsecond LED flash. Just take a look at some of the pictures!

[Read more...]

Hyperspectral Imaging With A DSLR


It’s a relatively simple task to find evidence of helium by just looking at the sun; all you need is a prism, diffraction grating, and a web cam. DIY spectrometers have been around for ages, but most of them only produce a spectrum, not a full image complete with spectral data. Now it’s possible to take an image of an object, complete with that objects spectra using a DSLR, some lenses, a PVC pipe, and the same diffraction grating from your DIY interferometer.

The idea behind a hyperspectral imager is to gather the spectral data of each pixel of an image. The spectral data is then assembled into a 3D data cube, with two dimensions dedicated to the image, and the third dimension used to represent wavelength. There are a surprising number of applications for this technique, ranging from agriculture and medicine to some extremely creepy surveillance systems.

The authors of this paper (freakin’ huge PDF) used a piece of PVC pipe, three camera lenses, a diffraction grating, and a small paper aperture to construct their hyperspectral imager. Images are captured using a standard, multi exposure HDR method, assembling the raw data from the camera into a hyperspectral image with MATLAB.

There’s a ton of awesome info in the PDF, covering how the authors calibrated their system for different lighting conditions, interpreted the RGGB Bayer sensor in the camera, and a few examples of what kind of image can be constructed with this kind of data. That’s a recommended read, right there.

Thanks [Yannick] for the tip.

Samsung NX300 Gets Rooted


[Ge0rg] got himself a fancy new Samsung NX300 mirrorless camera. Many of us would just take some pretty pictures, but not [Ge0rg], he wanted to see what made his camera tick. Instead of busting out the screwdrivers, he started by testing his camera’s security features.

The NX300 is sold as a “smart camera” with NFC and WiFi connectivity. The NFC connectivity turns out to be just an NXP NTAG203 tag embedded somewhere in the camera. This is similar to the NFC tags we gave away at The Gathering in LA. The tag is designed to launch an android app on a well equipped smartphone. The tag can be write-locked, but Samsung didn’t set the lock bit. This means you can reprogram and permanently lock the tag as a link to your favorite website.

[Ge0rg] moved on to the main event, the NX300’s WiFi interface. A port scan revealed the camera is running an unprotected X server and Enlightenment. Let that sink in for a second. The open X server means that an attacker can spoof keystrokes, push images, and point applications to the camera’s screen.

In a second blog post, [Ge0rg] tackled attaining root access on the camera. Based on the information he had already uncovered, [Ge0rg] knew the camera was running Linux. Visiting Samsung’s open source software center to download the open source portions of the NX300 confirmed that. After quite a bit of digging and several red herrings, [Ge0rg] found what he was looking for. The camera would always attempt to run an from the SD Card’s root folder at boot. [Ge0rg] gave the camera the script it was looking for, and populated it with commands to run BusyBox’s telnet daemon.  That’s all it took – root shell access was his.


[Image via Wikimedia Commons/Danrok]

Making Manual Lens Flares With A Few Simple Parts

DIY Lens Flare

If you’re an aspiring film maker hoping to be the next [J.J. Abram] with a mild (severe?) obsession with lens flares, then this Instructable is for you!

Modern camera lenses are designed to prevent lens flare, but sometimes, just sometimes, you want a cool lighting flare in your video. Of course you could add them in post production, but that’s kind of cheating, and if you don’t have expensive video editing software, not very easy to do either.

Now you could just throw a super bright LED flashlight on set and hope for the best, but you’ll never get that cool Star Wars or Star Trek blinding purple line… unless you add something on your camera to help scatter the light! [Jan Henrik] has figured out just how to do that. [Read more...]