Building a digital camera from scratch

Sure, [Stan] could have bought a nice full-frame DSLR like a Canon 5D or a Nikon D3, but where’s the fun in that when he could build his own digital camera? The build isn’t done yet, but [Stan] did manage to take a few sample pics.

The 14 Megapixel sensor [Stan] found was originally used for benchtop applications. There isn’t any reason it can’t be used for photography, so all that needed to be done was design a camera around this sensor.

[Stan] built his hardware around a DSP, an FPGA and a pair of ADCs, an amazing piece of engineering. Of course building a full-frame digital camera has as much to do with mechanics as electronics, so [Stan] used a 60mm cage system and a 3d-printed nylon enclosure.

Of course, [Stan]’s camera doesn’t look much like and off-the-shelf DSLR. There’s a reason for this; the sensor in the camera has a rolling shutter, much like the last few iPhones instead of a focal plane shutter. Not a bad piece of work, we only wish there were more build pics.

Halloween Props: Voice-changing Daft Punk costume

[Dr. West] shared his Halloween costume with us; a Daft Punk inspired voice-changing helmet. He stared with a motorcycle helmet, cutting out a hole in the back for a sub-woofer speaker. Inside there’s an old computer mic and the amp circuitry for a portable stereo system. An Arduino is used to pick up the wearer’s voice from the microphone and perform the digital signal processing. Once the alterations have been made the signal is sent to an R-2R resistor ladder to perform the digital to analog conversion, and onto the amp for broadcast. Hear the result in the video after the break.

The rest of the helmet is window dressing. He found some kind of auto-body repair product called flex-edging to use as metallic hair. Those fins are accented with strings of red and blue LEDs. The faceplate finishes the look using speakers from the stereo system and a tinted visor.

He wan’t going for a replica, but we think his creation would be right at home with the look of the original.

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QRSS: Radio amateurs’ slow-speed narrowband

qrss

Host of the Soldersmoke podcast, [Bill Meara], contributed this guest post.

While the rest of the world is moving toward high speed broadband, some hams—including one Nobel Prize winner—are going in exactly the opposite direction. Our ‘QRSS’ mode makes use of an unusual mixture of modern digital signal processing (DSP), ancient Morse code, and simple homebrewed transmitters. Very narrow bandwidth is desirable because this reduces the noise in the radio communication channel, greatly improving the S/N ratio.  But Shannon’s communication theory tells us that narrow bandwidth comes with a cost: slow data rates. In QRSS, beacon transmitters using only milliwatts churn out slow speed Morse ID signals on 10.140 MHz that are routinely picked up by DSP-based receivers on the other side of the globe. Many of the receivers, ‘grabbers’, have visual outputs that are available online in real time. QRSS has been getting a lot of attention on the Soldersmoke podcast and on the Soldersmoke Blog. For more information check out this overview and the hardware involved. Here’s a gallery of received signals.