[Ben Krasnow] Rolls Old School Camera Out For Photolithography

In a time when cameras have been reduced to microchips, it’s ironic that the old view camera, with its bellows and black cloth draped over the viewscreen for focusing, endures as an icon for photography. Such technology appears dated and with no application in the modern world, but as [Ben Krasnow] shows us, an old view camera is just the thing when you want to make homemade microchips. (Video, embedded below.)

Granted, the photolithography process [Ben] demonstrates in the video below is quite a bit upstream from the creation of chips. But mastering the process on a larger scale is a step on the way. The idea is to create a high-resolution photograph of a pattern — [Ben] chose both a test pattern and, in a nod to the season, an IRS tax form — that can be used as a mask. The camera he chose is a 4×5 view camera, the kind with lens and film connected by adjustable bellows. He found that modifications were needed to keep the film fixed at the focal plane, so he added a vacuum port to the film pack to suck the film flat. Developing film has always been magical, and watching the latent images appear on the film under the red light of the darkroom really brings us back — we can practically smell the vinegary stop solution.

[Ben] also steps through the rest of the photolithography process — spin coating glass slides with photoresist, making a contact print of the negative under UV light, developing the print, and sputtering it with titanium. It’s a fascinating process, and the fact that [Ben] mentions both garage chip-maker [Sam Zeloof] and [Justin Atkin] from the Thought Emporium means that three of our favorite YouTube mad scientists are collaborating. The possibilities are endless.

Continue reading “[Ben Krasnow] Rolls Old School Camera Out For Photolithography”

The Drone That Can Play Dodgeball

Drones (and by that we mean actual, self-flying quadcopters) have come a long way. Newer ones have cameras capable of detecting fast moving objects, but aren’t yet capable of getting out of the way of those objects.  However, researchers at the University of Zurich have come up with a drone that can not only detect objects coming at them, but can quickly determine that they’re a danger and get out of the way.

The drone has cameras and accompanying algorithms to detect the movement in the span of a couple of milliseconds, rather than the 20-40 milliseconds that regular quad-copters would take to detect the movement. While regular cameras send the entire screens worth of image data to the copter’s processor, the cameras on the University’s drone are event cameras, which use pixels that detect change in light intensity and only they send their data to the processor, while those that don’t stay silent.

Since these event cameras are a new technology, the quadcopter processor required new algorithms to deal with the way the data is sent. After testing and tweaking, the algorithms are fast enough that the ‘copter can determine that an object is coming toward it and move out of the way.

It’s great to see the development of new techniques that will make drones better and more stable for the jobs they will do. It’s also nice that one day, we can fly a drone around without worrying about the neighborhood kids lobbing basketballs at them. While you’re waiting for your quadcopter delivered goods, check out this article on a quadcopter testbed for algorithm development.

Hackaday Links: March 22, 2020

Within the span of just two months, our world of unimaginable plenty and ready access to goods manufactured across the globe has been transformed into one where the bare essentials of life are hard to find at any price. The people on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 are suffering supply chain pinches too, often at great risk to their health. Lack of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), especially face masks, is an acute problem, and the shortage will only exacerbate the problem as healthcare workers go down for the count. Factories are gearing up to make more masks, but in the meantime, the maker and hacker community can pitch in. FreeSewing, an open-source repository of sewing patterns, has a pattern for a simple face mask called the Fu that can be made quickly by an experienced threadworker. Efficacy of the masks made with that pattern will vary based on the materials used, obviously; a slightly less ad hoc effort is the 100 Million Mask Challenge, where volunteers are given a pattern and enough lab-tested materials to make 100 face masks. If you know how to sew, getting involved might make a difference.

As people around the world wrap their heads around the new normal of social distancing and the loss of human contact, there’s been an understandable spike in interest in amateur radio. QRZ.com reports that the FCC has recorded an uptick in the number of amateur radio licenses issued since the COVID-19 outbreak, and license test prep site HamRadioPrep.com has been swamped by new users seeking to prepare for taking the test. As we’ve discussed, the barrier for entry to ham radio is normally very low, both in terms of getting your license and getting the minimal equipment needed to get on the air. One hurdle aspiring hams might face is the cancellation of so-called VE testing, where Volunteer Examiners administer the written tests needed for each license class. Finding a face-to-face VE testing session now might be hard, but the VEs are likely to find a way to adapt. After all, hams were social distancing before social distancing was cool.

The list of public events that have been postponed or outright canceled by this pandemic is long indeed, with pretty much everything expected to draw more than a handful of people put into limbo. The hacking world is not immune, of course, with many high-profile events scuttled. But we hackers are a resourceful bunch, and the 10th annual Open Source Hardware Summit managed to go off on schedule as a virtual meeting last week. You can watch the nearly eight-hour livestream while you’re self-isolating. We’re confident that other conferences will go virtual in the near-term too rather than cancel outright.

And finally, if you’re sick of pandemic news and just want some escapist engineering eye candy, you could do worse than checking out what it takes to make a DSLR camera waterproof. We’ve honestly always numbered cameras as among the very least waterproof devices, but it turns out that photojournalists and filmmakers are pretty rough on their gear and expect it to keep working even so. The story here focuses (sorry) on Olympus cameras and lenses, which you’ll note that Takasu-san only ever refers to as “splash-proof”, and the complex system of O-rings and seals needed to keep water away from their innards. For our money, the best part was learning that lenses that have to change their internal volume, like zoom lenses, need to be vented so that air can move in and out. The engineering needed to keep water out of a vented system like that is pretty impressive.

Getting 1000 FPS Out Of The Raspberry Pi Camera

The Raspberry Pi camera has become a de facto standard for many maker projects, making things like object recognition and remote streaming a breeze. However, the Sony IMX219 camera module used is capable of much more, and [Gaurav Singh] set out to unlock its capabilities.

After investigating the IMX219 datasheet, it became clear that it could work at higher bandwidths when configured to use all four of its MIPI CSI lanes. In the Raspberry Pi module, only two MIPI lanes are used, limiting the camera’s framerate. Instead, [Gaurav] developed a custom IMX219 breakout module allowing the camera to be connected to an FPGA using all four lanes for greater throughput.

With this in place, it became possible to use the camera at framerates up to 1,000 fps. This was achieved by wiring the IMX219 direct to an FPGA and then to a USB 3.0 interface to a host computer, rather than using the original Raspberry Pi interface. While 1,000 fps is only available at a low resolution of 640 x 80, it’s also possible to shoot at 60 fps at 1080p, and even 15 fps at 3280 x 2464.

While it’s probably outside the realm of performance required for the average user, [Gaurav] ably demonstrates that there’s often capability left on the table if you really need it. Resources are available on Github for those eager to delve deeper. We’ve seen others use advanced techniques to up the frame rate of the IMX219, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Getting 1000 FPS Out Of The Raspberry Pi Camera”

Divvy Out The Crypto With This Physical Bitcoin Faucet

For those unfamiliar with the term, a “Bitcoin Faucet” is usually used as an incentive in software that wants your attention. Complete a captcha or look at and advertisement and you get one millionth of a BTC, that sort of thing. You’re never going to get rich off of one of them, but most people aren’t going to turn down free money either. The latest project from [TJ Bruno] follows that same concept and brings it into the physical world. But you still aren’t going to get rich off of it.

The hardware used for this corporeal Bitcoin Faucet is pretty simple. All you need is a Raspberry Pi, a camera module, and a 2.8″ touch LCD. Naturally you could use a larger screen if you wanted, but then it wouldn’t fit inside of the very slick 3D printed stand that [TJ] developed. We might consider upgrading to a slightly speedier Pi though, in the demonstration video it looks like the Zero is struggling pretty hard to handle the GUI.

Using the Faucet is straightforward enough. You tap the screen and place a QR code representing your Bitcoin wallet on the device’s tray, where it’s scanned by the camera. In a few seconds the Faucet shows a QR code on its own screen that will point your phone’s browser to the transaction details so you can verify your digital coinage is on the way.

You might be wondering why you’d want to have a device that sits there waiting to pay out fractions of a BTC to anyone who’s willing to flash their wallet at it. We’re not entirely sure, though it might make for an interesting way to raise awareness about cryptocurrency. In this particular case though, [TJ] says he was just looking for a project that would give him an excuse to hone his Python skills. Nothing wrong with that around these parts.

Watching the growth of cryptocurrency from our unique vantage point, we can see how the hacker’s interest in Bitcoin as changed over the years. Where we once saw people excited about building custom mining rigs, we now see counters that tick down as the last coins are put into circulation. Looking at projects like this, it seems hackers are happy enough to just give the things away in an interesting way.

Using IR LEDs To Hide In Plain Sight

Getting by without falling under the gaze of surveillance cameras doesn’t seem possible nowadays – from malls to street corners, it’s getting more common for organizations to use surveillance cameras to keep patrons in check. While the freedom of assembly is considered a basic human right in documents such as the US Condition and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not a right that is respected everywhere in the world. Often times, governments enforcing order will identify individuals using image recognition programs, preventing them from assembling or demonstrating against their government.

Freedom Shield built by engineer [Nick Bild] is an attempt at breaking away from the status quo and giving people a choice on whether they want to be seen or not. The spectrum of radiation visible to humans maxes out around 740nm, allowing the IR waves to remain undetected by normal observers.

The project uses 940nm infrared (IR) LEDs embedded in clothes to overwhelm photo diodes in IR-sensitive cameras used for surveillance. Since the wavelength of the lights are not visible to humans, they don’t obstruct normal behavior, making it an ideal way to hide in plain sight. Of course, using SMD LEDs rather than the larger sizes would also help with making the lights even less visible to the naked eye.

The result doesn’t perfectly obscure your face from cameras, but for a proof-of-concept it’s certainly a example of how to avoid being tracked.

Continue reading “Using IR LEDs To Hide In Plain Sight”

ESP32-Cam Does Time Lapse

Just a few years ago, had someone asked you how much a digital camera with WiFi would cost, you probably wouldn’t have said $6. But that’s about how much [Bitluni] paid for an ESP32-CAM. He wanted to try making the little camera do time lapse, and it turns out that’s pretty easy to do.

Of course, the devil is in the details. The camera starts out needing configuration on the USB interface and that enables the set up of Arduino integration and WiFi configuration. Because it stores each frame of the image on an SD card, the board can’t take rapid-fire pictures. [Bitluni] reports a 3-second delay was about the shortest he could manage, but for most purposes, he was using at least ten seconds.

The program has a live preview window to help you set up the shot, but before your recordings start that should be turned off so as not to overload the little processor and the I/O buses. The result is a bunch of JPG images that you can easily convert to a video on a PC if you wish.

This might be a good way to fit a camera on a 3D printer, especially if the time lapse effect was desired. Otherwise, you might sync to a layer change. Now all [bitluni] needs is an orbital rig.

Continue reading “ESP32-Cam Does Time Lapse”