Self-contained time-lapse rig braves elements from thirty feet

self-contained-rpi-camera-rig

Perspective is a bit hard to grasp in this image, but all of this hardware is mounted thirty feet above the ground. This time-lapse photography box makes use of the sun and a Raspberry Pi to document the goings on. The rig is one of three that were built by [Patty Chuck] to record progress on a seventy acre construction site over the course of eighteen months. The gallery linked above shows off the project well, but a much more in-depth text description is found in his Reddit thread.

What’s not shown in the image is a solar array which powers the box. When they were installed there were no utilities on site. To guard against power-loss there’s a hardware RTC that keeps ticking. The Raspberry Pi uses GPIO pins to switch the Nikon D7100 camera on once every five minutes during the work day. It snaps a photo before powering it down again. It also monitors a temperature sensor and actuates circulation fans if necessary.

He’s planning to post the videos once the project’s done in 18 months. If you see them and remember this post, send us the link and we’ll post the update.

Nikon WU-1a WiFi dongle hacking

Here’s a pretty tricky piece of consumer electronics reverse engineering. [Joe Fitz] came across the Nikon WU-1a. It’s a dongle that plugs into a Nikon D3200 camera, producing a WiFi connection which can be picked up and controlled from a smart phone. The app shows you the current image from the viewfinder, allows you to snap the picture, then pulls down the picture afterwards. The problem is that the same functionality for his D800 camera will cost him $1200, when this dongle can be had for $60. That’s a powerful incentive to find a way to use the WU-1a with his camera model. This is more than just rerouting some wires. It involves sniffing the USB traffic and drilling down in the datasheets for the chips used in the hardware. We’re not certain, but he may have even rolled new firmware for the dongle.

Details are a bit scarce right now. Your best bet is to watch the video embedded after the break. There is also a set of slides which [Joe] put together for a talk at this weekend’s BsidesPDX. It will give you a general overview of the process he went through. But he also started a forum thread and we hope to learn much more from that as the conversation gets going.

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TV-B-Gone can double as a camera remote control

[Christopher] found a way to get a bit more mileage out of his TV-B-Gone kit. The little device is intended to turn off every television in range with the push of a button. But at its core it’s really just a microcontroller connected to some infrared LEDs. Instead of sending codes to shut of televisions, you can rewrite the firmware to send a camera remote shutter release code.

It doesn’t take too much to pull this off. You need a way to flash new firmware to the device, and you need to know the new code timing that you want to send. Since the firmware is open source it’s easy enough to make code changes, and there are several easy methods of flashing AVR devices (like the tiny85 used here), including using an Arduino as an ISP.

But [Christopher] did more than just add the Nikon code for his camera. He realized that there’s a jumper to select between European or American television codes. Since he wasn’t using the foreign option, he replace that pin header with a switch that selects between normal TV-B-Gone operation and camera shutter release modes. Nice.

Tiny hardware-based DSLR intervalometer

diy_dslr_intervalometer

Most DSLR cameras have the ability to take pictures at set intervals, but sometimes the menu system can be clunky, and the options are often less than ideal. [Achim] is a big fan of time lapse photography and has been hard at work creating a hardware-based intervalometer to suit his needs. He has just finished the second revision of the controller which is just about small enough to fit inside the housing of a 2.5mm stereo plug. The timer is not 100% universal, but so far he has confirmed it works on Nikon, Canon, and Pentax cameras.

Based on a PIC10F222, the circuit’s operation is quite simple. Once the dongle is connected to your camera, you simply need to take two pictures anywhere from 0.4 seconds to 18 minutes apart. The intervalometer “watches” to see how long you waited between pictures, and proceeds to take shots at that interval until the battery dies or your memory card fills up.

As you can see in the video on his site, the timer works a treat. If you want to make one of your own, swing by his site to grab schematics and code – it’s all available for free.

*Whoops, it looks like we’ve actually covered this before. Our apologies.

Macro lens and image stacking

[Samuel Sargent] built his own lens for making stacked macro images.This project, which was completed as part of his senior thesis, utilizes a Zeiss enlarger lens. The aperture ring was broken, making it difficult to tell how much light was being let into the camera. Instead of scrapping the whole thing he turned it around, making it a macro lens when combined with a few other parts. He’s used a Nikon PB-5 belows, a PK-13 extension tube, and a body cap to provide a way to mount the lens to his camera. A hole was added to the body cap using his Dremel, and a liberal dose of epoxy putty seals all of the gaps.

After the break you can see a couple of photos that [Samuel] made of bismuth. He estimates the sharpest focal length by taking a few test shots. Next he captures a series of images, moving the bellows slightly between each shot. Finally, this set is combined using Helicon Focus image stacking software. Maybe for his graduate thesis he can build a mechanized platform to move the subject automatically.

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If you’re photographing and you know it clap your hands

If you’ve ever tried to take pictures of yourself you’ll know that it can be a pain. It’s especially hard to get that perfect shot of your godly features when you’re out of breath from sprinting across the room. OK, yes, they have remote controls for that. But what if you lost your remote or you just don’t want to have to carry it? [LucidScience] put together a sweet, um, “hands free” alternative.

Essentially this hack emulates the IR signals sent by a Nikon remote, either to take a picture right away or to take time lapse photographs at regular intervals. We’ve seen a similar time lapse remote using an arduino before and a really thorough one using an AVR, but they don’t take the same approach as [LucidScience]‘s design in terms of monitoring a microphone input for triggering. The project includes several status LEDs and adjustments for ambient noise and triggering, and it can be mounted to the camera body. We wonder how many of the Nikon’s features could be controlled using clap encoding, and how detailed your timing would need to be to have a kind of hand-made (get it?) pulsetrain syntax.  You’d probably need to have world record clap skills.

Check out the demo vid after the break.

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Smart flash synchronization

[Max] designed this circuit to add smart flash synchronization to his photography arsenal. He did this because ‘dumb’ TTL based flashes won’t play nicely with more sophisticated systems like the Nikon Advanced Wireless Lighting. By building a microcontroller into the mechanism, he’s added functionality for several different scenarios, ensuring that he’ll never again have problems with early flash triggering. Now that the kinks have been ironed out in the prototype, the code and hardware can be migrated over to whatever microcontroller suits you.