Using an MSP430 for time lapse photography

vistaquest_keychain_timelapse_msp430

Hackaday reader [onefivefour] had an old VistaQuest VQ1005 keychain camera kicking around, and wanted to do something useful with it. A while back he hooked up a 555 timer and did a bit of time lapse photography, but he wanted more control over the process. Specifically, he desired the ability to tweak the delay between shots in a more granular fashion, as well as way to prevent the VistaQuest from going to sleep after sitting idle for 60 seconds.

His weapon of choice to get this task done was an MSP430, since the microcontroller can be found quite cheaply, and because it is relatively easy to use. He added a few header pins to the LaunchPad board wiring them up to the camera’s trigger as well as the on/off switch. When the wire connected to the trigger is pulled low, the camera snaps a picture. The wire connected to the on/off switch is always held low, ensuring that the camera is on and ready to go whenever it’s time to take a shot.

It’s a relatively simple project, but definitely useful. While there are many ways to build an intervalometer, the MSP430 is a great platform to use, especially for beginners.

Stick around to see a quick video [onefivefour] put together, showing off his time lapse rig’s capabilities.

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Two-axis panning time lapse rig built from Lego

2_axis_lego_timelapse_dolly

[Jochem] wrote in to share a neat time lapse camera dolly he constructed out of Lego bricks. He is a big fan of the two-axis panning time lapse effect where the camera moves while recording images. He figured it would be easy enough to construct one of his own, so he dug out his pail of Lego and got to work.

The rig consists of a stationary motor platform which pulls a movable sled using a simple gear and string. The motor platform is controlled by an Arduino, which pulls the movable sled along every so often, snapping pictures along the way. [Jochem’s] Nikon D80 supports shutter release via IR, so he programmed the Arduino to send a quick IR pulse each time it has finished moving the dolly.

The rig looks like it works pretty well as you can see by the video below, but [Jochem] says that it still needs a bit of work. We just can’t wait to see what other time lapse movies he puts together once he finds an “interesting” time lapse subject.

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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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Time-lapse camera dolly

[Brian Grabski] was asked by a friend to design and build a dolly that would move a camera during a time-lapse sequence. Above you can see the product of his toils, and the videos after the break show off the parts that went into the design and showcase effectiveness of the build.

The dolly is designed to ride on a pair of tubular rails. These can be bent to match any desired path and the dolly will have no problem following it thanks to two features. First, the triad of skateboard wheels on each of the three corners are mounted on a swivel bearing that allows them to rotate without binding. The other piece of the puzzle is a set of drawer slides that let the third support move perpendicular to the other two sets of rollers. A motor drives a geared wheel to move the dolly along the track with speed adjustments courtesy of the motor controller. There’s also a failsafe that will shut the system down when it runs out of track, protecting that fancy piece of hardware taking the pictures.

We’ve seen timelapse equipment that moves the camera in the past, but those hacks usually involve rotating the camera along and axis. This track-based setup is a well executed tool useful at all levels of photography. We can’t wait to see the arch-based dolly that is teased at the end of the demo video.

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Full-featured AVR time-lapse

This time-lapse photo trigger was built [Lukasz Goralczyk]. It is controlled by an ATmega168 and we were surprised to read that it uses about 12k of code. Curious about what takes up that much space, we were impressed to see all the features demonstrated in the video after the break. The small device, running on two AA batteries, has a well-designed user interface displayed on a 3V character LCD that is navigated with a clickable rotary encoder.

It isn’t the smallest intervalometer we’ve ever seen, but it deserves respect for the features packed into a diminutive form-factor.

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Miniscule intervalometer

Calling this intervalomemter small would be a glaring understatement. It’s tiny enough to fit inside the plastic cover for a 2.5mm jack for use with a Canon DSLR camera. We should point out that the image we put together is a bit misleading. The picture of the jack is version 1 of this circuit and uses an 8-pin SOIC chip. The board in the oval is version 2, with a PIC 10f222 SOT23-6 package making it even smaller than the original version.

This is used for time-lapse photography. When plugged in the chip draws power from the camera. Get this: it learns the timing interval by listening for the first two images. Once you’ve snapped the first two pictures the PIC will continue to take images based on that initial delay. Amazing.

[Thanks AW via DIY Photography]

Hackaday links: July 25, 2010

Radio Receiver

If you never got the chance to build one as a kid [JoOngle] takes you through the steps to build your own radio receiver. Details are a bit scarce but it’s nothing your friend Google can’t help you out with.

Fixing a Blackberry trackball

If your Blackberry trackball stops working well you can try this non-technical fix. Remember when mice used to have a ball in them and you would need to clean out the gunk from time to time? Forcefully skidding your Blackberry across a piece of paper does a similar service.

Linux time lapse

Open source can be a great help to small businesses. Here’s a way to use a Linux machine to make time-lapse movies from surveillance camera feeds. We especially enjoy the use of a desktop wallpaper that has the terminal commands necessary to start recording.

Host a webpage with Dropbox

Here’s a way to host a simple webpage using Dropbox. It’s one of those easy ideas that you wouldn’t come up with yourself. When you place an HTML file in your Dropbox you can get a public URL which will be built as a webpage when visited with a browser.

Inline splicing

To round out the weekend here’s [Osgeld's] tips on inline wire splicing. We laughed as he recounted spearing himself with stray strands. This is pretty simple stuff but he’s explained it well and who’s to pass up a good tip?

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