Painting With Light And A Little G-Code

Most photographs are made in the fraction of a second that the camera’s shutter is gathering reflected light from the scene. But there’s fun to be had by leaving the shutter open and directing light into the camera. Called light painting, it can be as simple as a camera on a tripod in a dark room and a penlight spelling out dirty words – not like we’d know – or as complicated as this CNC dot-matrix light printer.

The first idea that [Jeremy S. Cook] had for this build didn’t go so well. He fitted an LED to the gantry of his 3D-printer, intending to send it G-code representing bitmaps. The idea would be to set it up in a dark place, open the shutter, and let the machine build up the image by rastering through the X- and Y- axes while blinking the LED on and off at the right time. But since the gantry only moves in one axis, he abandoned the printer in favor of his CNC router. He printed a collar to fit the dust collector shroud we previously featured, added a battery-powered LED, and affixed a pushbutton switch to the let the Z-axis turn on the light. It took some tweaking such as adding a translucent PLA diffuser, to get decent images, but in the end it worked. We like the soft look of the floating voxels, which were really helped by the later addition of a Nano and a Neopixel. Check out the build in the video below.

One thing we’d suggest is better reflection control. [Jeremy] used a black platen as a background, but it wasn’t quite enough. We suggest going none more black next time.

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Laser Light Show Turned Into Graphical Equalizer

The gold standard for laser light shows during rock concerts is Pink Floyd, with shows famous for visual effects as well as excellent music. Not all of us have the funding necessary to produce such epic tapestries of light and sound, but with a little bit of hardware we can get something close. [James]’s latest project is along these lines: he recently built a laser light graphical equalizer that can be used when his band is playing gigs.

To create the laser lines for the equalizer bands, [James] used a series of mirrors mounted on a spinning shaft. When a laser is projected on the spinning mirrors it creates a line. From there, he needed a way to manage the height of each of the seven lines. He used a series of shrouds with servo motors which can shutter the laser lines to their appropriate height.

The final part of the project came in getting the programming done. The brain of this project is an MSGEQ7 which  takes an audio input signal and splits it into seven frequencies for the equalizer. Each one of the seven frequencies is fed to one of the seven servo-controlled shutters which controls the height of each laser line using an Arduino. This is a great project, and [James] is perhaps well on his way to using lasers for other interesting musical purposes.

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Shutter Bug Goes Extreme With Scratch-Built Film Camera

Should a camera build start with a sand mold and molten aluminum? That’s the route [CroppedCamera] took with this thoroughly impressive camera project.

When we think of cameras these days, chances are we picture the ones that live inside the phones in our pockets. They’re the go-to image capture devices for most of us, but even for the more photographically advanced among us, when a more capable camera is called for, it’s usually an off-the-shelf DSLR from Canon, Nikon, or the like. Where do hand-built cameras fall in today’s photography world? They’re a great way to add a film option to your camera collection.

[CroppedCamera] previously built a completely custom large-format view camera, but for this build he decided that something a bit more portable might do. The body of the camera is scratch-built from aluminum, acting as the lightproof box to hold the roll film and mount the leaf-shutter lens. There’s an impressive amount of metalwork here — sand casting, bending, TIG welding, and machining all came into play, and most of them new skills to [CroppedCamera]. We were especially impressed with the shrink-fit of the lens cone to the body. It’s unconventional looking for sure, but not without its charm, and it’s sure to make a statement dangling around his neck.

It’s tough to find non-digital DIY camera builds around here — best we could do were these laser-cut plywood modular cameras. Then again, you can’t beat this wearable camera for functional style.

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Full SHTTTRRR Control Lets You Take Your Time…

[Glitchmaker] loves photography and wrote in to tell us about his newest project. He has a Canon 1000D camera but, unfortunately, it does not have time lapse capability. So, instead of shelling out a chunk of change for a new camera [Glitchmaker] decided to make an external shutter control device that can continue to instruct the camera to take photos at predetermined intervals. He calls his project: SHTTTRRR. You didn’t think that meant something else, did you?

You can see the unassuming box above, there is just enough stuff packed in there to get the job done, nothing extra or fancy. Luckily, the Cannon camera has a remote shutter input jack that only requires connecting one pin to another in order to take a photo. Inside the box is an ATTINY45 microcontroller. It reads the button pushes from the single panel-mounted button and calculates the time between two button presses. That time between button presses determines the frequency of the photos taken. At the appropriate times, the ATTINY45 signals a transistor to connect the two appropriate pins on the camera’s remote shutter input jack. The device continues to tell the camera to take photos until it is shut off. The result is a series of time-lapse photos that was previously not possible on that camera!

This is a simple project that solves a problem and gets the job done. What’s better than that? [Glitchmaker] is proud of the SHTTTRRR he made and also learned a bunch about programming the ATTINY45 along the way. Check a video of it working after the break.

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Arduino-Controlled Single-Leaf Shutter

Single-Leaf Shutter

[Kevin] has made an interesting camera shutter mechanism using an Arduino and a solenoid. To keep it extremely simple, he is only controlling a single leaf. In the linked video, you can see him take it through its paces from 1/125 seconds up to infinite. This is, of course, a proof of concept, and [Kevin] mentions using smaller components to make everything fit easily inside a Holga-like body. As he points out in the video’s comments, digitally controlling the flash would be a simple matter as well.

A basic camera is incredibly simple to make, and [Kevin’s] design certainly isn’t complicated. That said, if you look at the big picture, [Kevin] is demonstrating how feasible it could be to build an entirely custom camera with a standard microcontroller as the brain. We can’t help but think of all of the possibilities when you are able to control the entire photo taking process.

Interestingly, [Kevin] is also behind this twin lens reflex Kickstarter project from earlier in the year. It will be interesting to see what other camera-related hacks we will see from him.

Bluetooth Control For Your DSLR Or Just About Any Other IR Operated Device

Just the other day we were reading a Reddit thread asking about how to control a television with a smartphone. The conversation started by talking about adding an IR LED to the phone.  Then it was suggested that there should be standalone Bluetooth devices that convert commands to IR, and came around to the ideas that TV’s should ship with native Bluetooth hardware. We couldn’t agree more but we’re also not about to replace our TV just for this option. That’s why we were delighted to find this project waiting on our tip line. It’s a method of controlling a camera shutter from a smartphone using Bluetooth. But the technique will work for any device which uses an infrared remote control.

The video after the break shows two different devices controlling the camera shutter. As you can see in the diagram above, the iPhone is the master controller, connecting to a Bluetooth headset mounted on the camera. That headset was altered to feed the speaker connections into an IR LED pointed at the camera’s receiver. The iPhone plays an encoded audio track matching the IR remote command, resulting in the properly formatted message flashing on the LED. The watch doesn’t have the ability to playback audio, but it can send a message to the phone, which then plays the proper audio track through the headset.

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Laser-triggered Camera Rig Update: 2011 Version

[Fotoopa] keeps churning out new iterations of his laser-triggered camera rig. This is his latest, which he calls the 2011 setup. Regular readers will remember that we just covered a different version back in November; that one was the 2010 rendition. It had two DSLR cameras offset by 90 degrees with mirrors to face forward. This time around he has gone back to the single camera setup which was what he used on the first and second versions seen way back in 2008.

Whew, that’s a lot of links to specialty DSLR hardware. Let’s bring it back to this newest model (the link at the top). The biggest improvement is the shutter delay between when the laser beam is tripped and the image is take. [Fotoopa] reports that he’s managed to reduce that time down to 3.3 milliseconds. This is thanks to an external shutter replacement which improves on the stock shutter’s 52 millisecond delay.

For those that are seeing this for the first time. [Fotoopa] uses this rig to photograph insects in motion. A laser trip wire is responsible for triggering the shutter, and it does so with stunning results!