Enjoying The Sunrise Every Single Day


[Andy] wanted to take a few at sunrise, but waking up before sunrise has obvious problems associated with it. Instead, he built a device that calculates the local sunrise time, snaps a picture, and goes to sleep until the next morning.

The camera used for the project was an old Canon point and shoot, chosen for the ability to load CHDK firmware. Other electronics included an Arduino pro mini, a LiPo battery and charger board, real time clock, and an old Nokia LCD for the user interface.

There’s quite a bit of code that goes into figuring out when the sun will rise each day, but once that’s figured out, all [Andy] has to do is take the camera somewhere pretty, point it East, and record a few days worth of sunrises. When put into a ‘game camera’ enclosure, its rugged enough to stand up to everything except a thief, and has enough battery power for a few weeks worth of sunrises.

Video demonstrating the local sunrise time below.

21 thoughts on “Enjoying The Sunrise Every Single Day

    1. The problem with CHDK scripting is that the camera’s power savings mode doesn’t engage when using scripting. As a result, the camera’s battery efficiency goes out the window.

    2. I have a Canon of this vintage and was quite interested in CHDK when it came out. I never did much with it other than time lapse but I did have a ‘shoot the sunset’ script I downloaded a while back. Maybe this script didn’t do what he wanted, but there’s this: http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Sunrise_and_Sunset_Time_Calculation_Script. That said, I love the hack and it reminded me of a timelapse I shot with an 8mm movie camera years ago up in VT. A Model 100 computer was programmed to know sunsire and sunset calculations and used its cassette control cable to trigger the single frame mode of the movie camera. It simply waited until sunrise and then shot one frame every (some number) of seconds until sunset. After a month, the roll of film was used up and I developed it. A hurricane had blown through the area that month so I have footage of the leaves slowly changing from green to about half peak. The window got wet from the hurricane and when it dried, the leaves were gone. Despite it being not much of a hack, it made for a cool movie. I love the idea of controlling the Canon with the Arduino and I’ll have to try that.

        1. This rig will do timelapse or shoot stills, or do HDR, or bracketed images… or pretty much anything that CHDK allows. The rig is simply a fix for the need for a large battery for long periods of unattended camera shooting. It allows the camera (any camera in fact) to be switched off completely until a particular time. How or what it shoots is down to how you configure your CHDK script.

  1. This is an interesting idea – putting together a CHDK project has been on my bucket list for some time. BUT

    Why has Hackaday decided to obscure this and other posts behind the “Projects” wall rather than a direct link to the project? (Plus the Bitbucket code is inaccessible – not HAD’s fault). Hackaday’s real value is timely descriptions and information of other people’s projects – essentially an online journal of tinkering/hacking/making/projects. Complicating that will only diminish it.

  2. If you were to utilize the system of blooming flowers, you might get more accurate results with less code.

    Simply note the change of light intensity vs time, near estimated sunrise. Like as little as a couple minutes before the sun crests. Peak rate of change would cause the system to memorize that 24ish hour period and take an image. That time period would dictate when to prepare for next image (estimate sunrise).

    1. That is quite a neat idea, but I’m not sure how you could do it, and meet the low power consumption requirements… also I don’t know how precise it would be, since light levels vary from one sunrise to the next.. a flower simply wants to open in time for the bees, it isn’t too concerned about watching the sunrise…having said that it might be do-able with some cunning use of an LDR as part of a wheatstone bridge…

  3. a retarded hack. arduino and shit? wtf. 1) calculate sunrise, loads of apps or internet takes 1 second. 2) program chdk to take pic at that time. 4 seconds.
    total. 5 seconds.

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