High Speed Chronograph Looks Like Pro Gear

It can be hard enough to take a good photograph of a running kid or pet, and if we’re being honest, sometimes even stationary objects manage to allude our focus. Now imagine trying to take a picture of something moving really fast, like a bullet. Trying to capture the moment a fast moving projectile hits an object is simply not possible with a human behind the shutter button.

Enter the ballistic chronometer: a device that uses a set of sensor gates and a highly accurate timer to determine how fast an object is flying through it. Chronometers that operate up to a couple hundred meters per second are relatively common, but [td0g] had something a little faster in mind. He’s come up with an optical setup that he claims can capture objects moving as fast as Mach 2. With this chronometer tied into a high-speed flash rig, [td0g] is able to capture incredible shots such as the precise instant a bullet shatters a glass of water.

Because he couldn’t find any phototransistors with the sub-microsecond response time necessary to detect a small object moving at 1,000 m/s, [td0g] ended up using LEDs in a photoconductive configuration, where 27 VDC is applied backwards against the diode. Careful monitoring of voltage fluctuations across the diode allows for detection of changes in the received light level. To cut down on interference, [td0g] used IR LEDs as his light sources, reasoning there would be less ambient IR than if he used something in the visual range.

What really impresses with this build is the attention to detail and amount of polish [td0g] put into the design. From the slick angled bracket that holds the Arduino and LCD to the 3D printed covers over the optical gates, the final device looks like a professional piece of equipment with a price tag to rival that of a used car.

For the future, [td0g] plans on upgrading to faster comparators than he LM339’s he has installed currently, and springing for professionally done PCBs instead of protoboard. In it’s current state this is already a very impressive piece of kit, so we’d love to see what it looks like when it’s “finished”.

If you don’t need something quite this high end but still would like to see how fast something is going, we have covered chronometer builds to fit every budget.

Using an Arduino to measure inductance

Measuring an inductor is not something that most multi-meters can do. You usually need a high precision resistor (1% or better) in series with the inductor, a function generator to put a signal through the circuit, and an oscilloscope to measure the result. But what can you do if you don’t have these tools on hand? [Andrew Moser] has a method that lets you pull it off with an Arduino and an LM339 quad comparator.

The circuit works by feeding a signal in from the Arduino. This waveform is affected by the LC circuit, filtered by the comparator chip, then read back out the other side by the Arduino. That resulting signal is a square wave, which is an easy target for the Arduino to measure. That timing measured from the square wave can then be used to calculate the inductor’s value.

This is quite handy if you’re winding your own inductors. Now you can precisely tune that Joule Thief you’ve been working on.

[via Dangerous Prototypes and Adafruit]