Extracting Lightning Strikes From HD Video

Lightning photography is a fine art. It requires a lot of patience, and until recently required some fancy gear. [Saulius Lukse] has always been fascinated by lightning storms. When he was a kid he used to shoot lightning with his dad’s old Zenit camera — It was rather challenging. Now he’s figured out a way to do it using a GoPro.

He films at 1080@60, which we admit, isn’t the greatest resolution, but we’re sure the next GoPro will be filming 4K60 next. This means you can just set up your GoPro outside during the storm, and let it do it what it does best — film video. Normally, you’d then have to edit the footage and extract each lightning frame. That could be a lot of work.

[Saulius] wrote a Python script using OpenCV instead. Basically, the OpenCV script spots the lightning and saves motion data to a CSV file by detecting fast changes in the image.

graph of lightning

The result? All the lightning frames plucked out from the footage — and it only took an i7 processor about 8 minutes to analyze 15 minutes of HD footage. Not bad.

Now if you feel like this is still cheating, you could build a fancy automatic trigger for your DSLR instead…

The Raspberry Pi Action Camera

Action cameras like the GoPro, and the Sony Action Cam are invaluable tools for cyclists and anyone else venturing into the great outdoors. These cameras are not really modifiable or usable in any way except for what they were designed for. [Connor] wanted a cheaper, open-source action camera and decided to build one with the Raspberry Pi.

[Connor]’s Pi action cam is built around the Raspberry Pi Model A+ and the Pi camera. This isn’t a complete solution, so [Connor] added a bluetooth module, a 2000 mAh battery, and a LiPo charger.

To keep the Pi Action Cam out of the elements, [Connor] printed an enclosure. It took a few tries, but eventually he was able to mount everything inside a small plastic box with buttons to start and stop recording, a power switch, and a USB micro jack for charging the battery. The software is a script by [Alex Eames], and the few changes necessary to make this script work with the hardware are also documented.

This was the most intensive 3D printing project [Connor] has ever come up with, and judging by the number of prints that don’t work quite right, he put a lot of work into it. Right now, the Pi action cam works, but there’s still a lot of work to turn this little plastic box into a completed project.

Third Person Skydiving

GoPros were invented for a few reasons, and skydiving is right at the top of that list. You’ll be hard pressed to find a regular skydiver that doesn’t own at least one of the little cameras, and there are a few examples of helmets with three or four GoPros tacked on.

This is an entirely new application. Yes, you can now film yourself skydiving with a third person view.

[Jason] hacked together this camera rig in an hour by strapping a GoPro on a Nerf Vortex football, tying a length of paracord to the camera mount, and connecting the other end to a hip ring on the parachute harness. It took three flights to get the canopy in the camera’s field of view, but the results are spectacular. It’s a tad bit unstable when turning, but the fins on the Nerf football make for a very, very stable shot.

[Jason] isn’t jumping out of a plane with this contraption already dangling underneath him; the football, camera, and paracord rig isn’t launched until the canopy fully deploys. It’s perfectly safe, but we’ll expect someone to get the idea of strapping a keychain camera to their pilot chute soon.

Unorthodox GoPro Camera Rigs Produce Unreal Videos

For a workshop at the ECAL University of Art and Design in Switzerland, students were asked to come up with new unorthodox ways to capture video using a GoPro camera. The results are pretty awesome.

Lead by the Dutch designer [Roel Wouters], students in the Media & Interaction Design program worked together with Industrial Design students to create these fascinating camera rigs. From “the eye”, a water based stabilizing ball, to a silly bobble hat can be spun around the user, the results are super fun and unique to watch. The workshop was one week long and produced five different camera rigs as featured in the following video.

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Pwn Your GoPro: Scripting, WiFi, and Bus Hacking


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.

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Underwater GoPro Hero 2 Sees Clearly Again

go pro hack

GoPros are great action cameras for snagging photos and videos places where you can’t normally bring real camera gear. The problem is, even with the waterproof GoPro case for the Hero 2 — the underwater videos tend to be blurry and out of focus. Unsatisfied with his videos, [Mitchell] decided to make his own lens for the case!

The waterproof case has a removable concave lens, but for whatever reason it’s not very good underwater. Lucky for [Mitchell], it’s quite easily removed with 6 screws, revealing a nice thick gasket and the lens. Instead of trying to go fancy with some glass element from a broken camera, he’s just taken some 1/4″ plexiglass and cut out a piece to fit the case. It was a bit too thick for the original configuration, so he’s actually flipped the retaining ring upside down to space the lens away from the actual camera. A bunch of silicone later and the case is waterproof again with a new lens!

The resulting footage with the new lens looks awesome underwater — take a peek after the break.

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Panning GoPro Mount Catches Bad Drivers On Video


[Chris] must live in a neighborhood with a lot of bad drivers. He built this motorized panning GoPro mount so he can record and share his neighbors’ mobile misadventures with the world. He started with a custom machined aluminum frame. The frame clips onto a suction cup mount grab bar. The stock GoPro mount sits on a machined HDPE puck, which is rotated by a NEMA 11 stepper motor. [Chris] used a Pololu A4988 stepper motor driver to handle the coils. Initially he used an Arduino to generate pulses for the stepper driver. A true Hackaday fan though, he decided that an Arduino was overkill, and broke out a 555 timer. A DPDT switch powers up the 555 and controls the stepper driver’s direction input. The electronics all fit neatly in a small project box which doubles as a hand controller.

While setting up for a test drive [Chris] found that he could only lock down one suction cup on his car’s curved sunroof. Considering the light weight of the GoPro, one suction cup is probably enough. Just to be safe, [Chris] added a rope leash down through the sunroof.

We think the stepper motor was a good choice for this project. Since the motor is direct drive, there are no gears to strip. The stepper’s holding torque also keeps the camera pointed in the right direction at highway speeds. With no wires directly connecting the GoPro to the car, [Chris] can spin the camera 360 degrees without worrying about tangles. Verifying the camera’s direction is just a matter of looking up through the car’s sunroof. Click past the break to see [Chris’s] camera mount in action. 

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