Game controller repurposed for flea market find


A jarring pan with your tripod can ruin a shot in your film, and tilting up or down usually requires some loosening and tightening kung fu to keep gravity from taking over. The “Power Panner” is a remote-controlled device that fits between the tripod and the camera, handling pans and tilts with ease. When [NeXT] found one at the Capitol Flea Market for $5, he didn’t care about the missing remote. He bought the Panner, dragged it home, and hacked together his own remote with a Sega Master Pad.

After researching similar devices online, [NeXT] had determined the original remote’s pinout: essentially a D-pad with adjustable speed control. He decided to ignore the speed pins and to instead search for a suitable replacement controller. A Sega Master Pad offered the most straightforward solution, so [NeXT] went to work separating out the wires and soldering them to a DIN connector. He couldn’t find the right plug to fit the Panner’s DIN-7 jack, so he substituted a DIN-8 with the extra pin snapped off.

Rather than use the remaining two buttons for speed control, [NeXT] chose to feed them directly into his camera to drive the focus and shutter, but the Master Pad’s wiring posed a problem: the camera would have to share the Power Panner’s ground, and the Panner plugs into the wall via a 6V adapter. Fingers crossed, he decided to push ahead and was relieved that everything worked. We suspect the shared ground won’t be a problem as long as one device uses a floating power supply, which the Panner can provide either through the proper wall wart or by using its 4 AA battery option.

If you’re in the mood for more camera hacks, check out the sound-dampening and waterproofing build from last week.

Priceless Paintings – Scanned and Printed in 3D


When we think of works by Van Gogh and Rembrandt, most of us remember a picture, but we aren’t accustomed to seeing the actual painting. [Tim Zaman], a scientist at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, realized that the material presence of the paint conveys meaning as well. He wanted to create a lifelike reproduction in full dimension and color. While a common laser-based technique could have been used for depth mapping, resolution is dependent on the width of the line or dot, and the camera cannot capture color data simultaneously with this method. In his thesis, [Tim] goes into great detail on a hybrid imaging technique involving two cameras and a projector. He and his team eventually used two 40-megapixel Nikon cameras in conjunction with a fringe projector to capture a topographical map with in-plane resolution of  50 μm, and depth resolution of 9.2 μm.

We can’t find a lot of information on the printing process they used, other than references to high-resolution 3D printers by Océ (a Canon company). That said, [Tim] has provided a plethora of images of some of the reproductions, and we have to say they look amazing. The inclusion of depth information takes this a big step further than that gigapixel scanning setup we saw recently.

Check out the BBC interview with Tim, as well as time lapse videos of the scanning and printing process after the break.

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Sound blimp makes camera quieter and waterproof


The D-SLR “crunch” sound can be pretty satisfying. Your camera has moving parts and those cell-phone amateurs can eat your shutter actuation. If you’re a professional photographer behind the scenes on a sound stage or at any film shoot, however, your mirror slapping around is loud enough to get you kicked off the set. [Dan Tábar] needed his D800 to keep it down, so he made his own sound blimp to suppress the noise. As an added bonus, it turns out the case is waterproof, too!

[Dan] got the idea from a fellow photographer who was using a prefab Jacobson blimp to snap pictures in sound-sensitive environments. Not wanting to spend $1000, he looked for a DIY alternative. This build uses a Pelican case to house the body of the camera and interchangeable extension tubes to cover lenses of various sizes. [Dan] took measurements and test-fit a paper cutout of his D800 before carving holes into the Pelican case with a Dremel tool. One side got a circular hole for the extension tubes, while the other received a rectangular cut for the camera’s LCD screen and a smaller circle for the viewfinder.

Lexan serves as a window for all of the open ends: LCD, viewfinder, and the lens. [Dan] snaps pictures with a wireless trigger, saving him the trouble of drilling another hole. You can hear the D800 before and after noise reduction in a video after the break, along with a second video of [Dan] trying out some underwater shots. If you’d rather take a trip back in time, there’s always the 3D printed pinhole camera from last week.

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Stealth peephole camera watches your front door


In this week’s links post we mentioned an over-powered DSLR peephole that purportedly cost $4000. So when we saw this tip regarding a relatively inexpensive digital peephole, we thought some of you might be a bit more interested.

The hardware is quite simple; a decent webcam, a Raspberry Pi, and a powered USB hub. The camera gets stripped down to its PCB and hidden inside the door itself. Even if you see this from the inside it’s just a suspicious-looking wire which wouldn’t make most people think a camera was in use.

On the software side of things, [Alex] set up his Raspberry Pi as a 24/7 webcam server to stream the video online. Unlike using a cheap wireless CCTV camera, his video signals are secure. He then runs Motion, a free software motion detector to allow the camera to trigger events when someone comes sneaking by. It can be setup to send you a text, call you, play an alarm, take a picture, record a video… the list goes on. His blog has a full DIY guide if you want to replicate this system. We just hope you have a stronger door!

We covered a similar project back in 2011, but it had made use of real server instead of an inexpensive Raspberry Pi.

[Thanks Alex!]

Digital camera becomes video transmitter


In the arena of high altitude balloons, Canon’s PowerShot series of digicams are the camera du jour for sending high into the stratosphere. There’s a particular reason for this: these cameras can run the very capable CHDK firmware that turns a $100 digicam into a camera with a built-in intervalometer along with a whole bunch of really cool features. It appears this CHDK firmware is much more powerful than we imagined, because [Chris] is now transmitting pictures taken from a Canon a530 to the ground, using only the CHDK firmware and a cheap radio module.

These PowerShot cameras have an ARM processor inside that runs VxWorks, a minimal but very capable OS for embedded devices and Mars rovers. By tying in to the Tx and Rx lines of the camera, [Chris] can issue commands to the OS, change settings, and even install his own code.

With the help of [Phil Heron]‘s SSDV encoder written in C, [Chris] was able to get the camera to transmit images  with a small radio transmitter that fits in the battery compartment. Right now, [Chris] has only built the CHDK + SSDV for the Canon a530, but with how useful this build is, we expect to see an improved version very shortly.

Four Meter Light Paintings


We’ve seen some light painting before – waving a microcontroller and LED strip in front of a camera is a very interesting project after all. [Saulius]‘ light painting stick is unlike anything we’ve seen before, though. It’s huge – four meters high, and is also very flexible in the field, drawing images served up from a smart phone.

To get his pictures onto his light painting stick, [Saulius] used the very cool Carambola, an exceedingly small board that also runs Python. The images were converted to a 128xWhatever .BMP file served to the Carambola over WiFi with a smart phone, Since the Carambola runs Linux, sometimes a kernel interrupt would mistakenly restart the drawing process. [Saulius] found a way around that by writing the drawing code in C and wrapping that in a Python module. The speed of C and the flexibility of Python, who could ask for more.

On the project page, you can see [Saulius] pulling off some very cool light paintings. Even though the Hackaday logo is the best way to get on the front page here, this pic is probably the most impressive

Use your new-timey printer to make an old-timey camera


Here’s something to show people who don’t realize the power of 3D printing. This pinhole camera has one moving part which reveals the pinhole, letting in light to expose the 4×5 film inside.

It’s a near perfect roundup of all the qualities a 3D printer has to offer. The build centers around a 4×5 film holder which can be acquired used or as surplus. This drives home the concept of having the power to replace parts (in this case the entire camera) that fit with existing pieces (the film holder). The picture above is big enough that you can see the layers on the pyramid shape, but the structural pieces around the frame also let the uninitiated see that you can print more than just solid blocks. And finally, since it’s up for download on Thingiverse its a good example of how the printing community shares and builds on each others’ work.

Does it take quality photos? We have no idea. So far we didn’t see any example pictures. But really, if you’re looking for top quality you might want to build your own digital camera. Here’s one that uses a 14 megapixel sensor.