Retrotechtacular: Kodak Built World’s First DSLR… Using a Canon Camera Body

worlds-first-dslr

It has been far too long since we’ve seen an installment of Retrotechtacular, and this is a great one to start back with. It’s always a treat to get the story from the horse’s mouth. How about the tale of the world’s first Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera? [Jame McGarvey] shared the story of how he developed the device in 1987.

That’s it shown above. It’s not surprising to see that the only real modification to the camera itself is the back cover. The difference between an SLR and a DSLR is really just the D, which was accomplished by adding a CCD in place of the film.

The entire story is a treat, but there are a couple of nuggets the we enjoyed most. The possibly-clandestine purpose of this device is intriguing. It was specifically designed to pass as a film camera which explains the ribbon cable connecting the CCD module to the control box which would be stored in a camera bag. It is also delightful to hear that the customer who tasked Eastman Kodak with developing the system preferred Canon camera bodies. So this Kodak DSLR indeed used a Canon F-1 body.

Once you get done looking this one over you will also enjoy learning how a CCD actually works.

[Thanks Ben]

Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.

Using Echoes of Light to Turn Walls into Mirrors

using a wall as a mirror

 

[Matthias] recently published a paper he worked on, in which he details how his group managed to reconstruct a hidden scene using a wall as a mirror in a reasonably priced manner. A modified time-of-flight camera (PMD CamBoard Nano) was used to precisely know when short bursts of light were coming back to its sensor. In the picture shown above the blue represents the camera’s field of view. The green box is the 1.5m*1.5m*2.0m scene of interest and we’re quite sure you already know that the source of illumination, a laser, is shown in red.

As you can guess, the main challenge in this experience was to figure out where the three-times reflected light hitting camera was coming from. As the laser needed to be synchronized with the camera’s exposure cycle it is very interesting to note that part of the challenge was to crack the latter open to sniff the correct signals. Illumination conditions have limited impact on their achieved tolerance of +-15cm.

Pwn Your GoPro: Scripting, WiFi, and Bus Hacking

naked-gopro

GoPro cameras come out of the box with a huge set of features. Most people will be satisfied, or possibly even overwhelmed by the available options, but if you’re able to do some of these hacks, you’ll be able to expand your camera’s capabilities even more. They can, however, void your warranty, so as with most hacking, do these at your own risk.

[Read more...]

Cheap-Thermocam Gets an Impressive Rehaul

thermocam

[Max Ritter] is a 21 year old student of information technology at the University of Applied Science at Weingarten, Germany. Three years ago he brought us the DIY Cheap-Thermocam, a tool for thermal imaging that cost <$100. Since then he’s made a few upgrades.

The original Cheap-Thermocam made use of an Arduino, the sensor from a thermometer gun and a few XY servos. In about 2 minutes the XY servos can scan and measure 1344 points using the thermometer’s sensor, creating a heat-vision map of 42 x 32 pixels — not amazing, but it worked — and it was cheap!

The new version (V3) has its own ARM Cortex M3 processor, it measures 3072 points in 2 minutes from -70°C to 380°C with an accuracy of 0.5°C, and it exports its images at a resolution of 640 x 480 –close to commercial offerings! It’s not capable of real-time scanning, but for the majority of purposes you need one of these for — it’s really not that necessary.

[Read more...]

Sense & Spray Air Freshener Says Cheese

manual-release

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

headless

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...]

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