An Improved Spectrometer, No Lasers Required

Here at Hackaday, we love it when someone picks up the ball from a previous project and runs with it. That’s what we’re all about, really — putting out cool projects that just might stimulate someone else to extend and enhance it, or even head off in an entirely new direction. That’s how the state of the art keeps moving.

This DIY spectrometer project is a fantastic example of that ethos. It comes to us from [Michael Prasthofer], who was inspired by [Les Wright]’s PySpectrometer, a simple device cobbled together from a pocket spectroscope and a PiCam. As we noted at the time, [Les] put a lot of the complexity of his instrument in the software, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement.

[Michael]’s goals were to make his spectrometer a little easier to build, and to improve the calibration process and overall accuracy. To help with the former, he went with software correction of the color filter array on his Fuji X-T2. This has the advantage of not requiring a high-power laser and precision micropositioner to ablate the CFA, and avoids potentially destroying an expensive camera. For the latter, [Michael] delved deep into the theory behind spectroscopy and camera optics to develop a process for correlating the intensity of light along the spectrum with the specific wavelength at that location. He also worked a little machine learning into the process, training a network to optimize the response functions.

The result is pretty accurate spectra with no lasers required for calibration. The video below goes into a lot of detail and ends up being a good introduction to some of the basics of spectroscopy, along with the not-so-basics.

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Your Fuji Digital Camera Is Hackable

There was a time when a digital camera was a surprisingly simple affair whose on-board processor didn’t have much in the way of smarts beyond what was needed to grab an image from the sensor and compress it onto some storage. But as they gained more features, over time cameras acquired all the trappings of a fully-fledged computer in their own right, including full-fat operating systems and the accompanying hackability opportunities.

Prominent among camera manufacturers are Fujifilm, whose cameras it turns out have plenty of hacking possibilities. There’s something of a community about them, with all their work appearing in a GitHub repository, and a cracking April Fool in which a Fujifilm camera appears able to be coaxed into running DOOM.

Correction: We’ve since heard from creator [Daniel] who assures us that not only was the DOOM hack very much real, but that he’s released the instructions on how to run the classic shooter on your own Fujfilm X-A2.

Fujifilm cameras past 2017 or so run the ThreadX real-time operating system on a variety of ARM SoCs, with an SQLite data store for camera settings and some custom software controlling the camera hardware. The hackability comes through patching firmware updates, and aside from manipulating the built-in scripting language and accessing the SQLite database, can include code execution.

Don’t have a Fujifilm? They’re not the only hackable camera to be found.