Sunday, March 21, 2010

Timelapse cam setup

...CHDK is the software...I mentioned that earlier...this is the hardware.

This is a SportsPack waterproof camera housing. It has slide in mounts for a variety of camcorders...and is designed to electronically integrate with Sony camcorders (controls on top run camcorder)...

...obviously I am only using the housing...but I was able to use one of the extra slide in mounts to build a mount for my just barely fits...I don't think a DSLR would fit at all...we will see about that some time in the future.

Front view...I have the camera so the lens is almost touching the front glass...and is as centered as I can get it.

The camera mount slid out...showing the hacked together bracket and battery pack.

Another view showing the camera on its mount with the battery pack.

...this is the result...this attempt was with the mockup of the current mount...the lens was too far from the front glass in that setup...

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I always assumed you had to buy a lot of expensive hardware, and sit outside all night pushing a cable remote shutter control to take pictures of the stars.

Thanks to modern can if you want to...or just let the camera do the work.

There are websites and books dedicated to this I won't bother...however.

...unfortunately just as I was figuring all this out and getting my setup ready...a winter storm came to I won't be able to test my theories for a few days.

Here is what I know...
CHDK will let you make repeated shots at a set interval. will let you set the shutter speed (and or aperture)

I have read that up to about 20-30 second exposure times will not show star streaking (from the earth movement)
There is free software that will 'stack' exposures (sort of like what the HDR software does)
I built a large battery pack to keep the camera running all night.

So my plan is to set the exposure to 20 sec, take pictures a minute apart all night long and see what happens.

Then from there change the exposure time until just below the streak threshold.

Not only can I get movies...I can stack the shots for more detail (hopefully).

Now this camera will only shoot for about a minute shutter open time. If I want more, I will need a new camera...and some way to keep the camera in position as the earth moves...

Some robotic...VR...etc links...

So one ongoing project is the ROVIO...well some third party applications have been written for it (as well as an iPhone app). Here are a couple that I haven't tried yet, but look interesting... ...basically use this to build a VR world with your ROVIO as the input, and your computer as the world generator. software to allow your robot to use its camera(s) as vision...think the DARPA autonomous vehicles...ROVIO specific software here... a multi blade helicopter...microprocessor controlled...and seems like an easy (relatively) way to make an autonomous vehicle ($1000 for the basic unit)

Now back when I was a kid...I wanted one of these...Big can get them n0w on ebay for not much money...and of course some folks are hacking on them...
replace the Big Trak controls with OOPic (site only on Wayback Machine)

How about a iPhone controlled hexapod?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

HDR Time Lapse Video

This is something I didn't realize people were doing...or that I would be able to do with my little camera.

But thanks to Owen Scharlotte at I learned a ton...

I previously mentioned CHDK and bracketing photos for HDR. Well here is how to install a script that will direct your camera to take a series of pictures...

And here is a tutorial on how to take that series of pictures into Photomatix for batch processing...

...and hopefully soon I will have a demo of my own from the back yard...

Other than loading the script, you still have to go into the CHDK menus and set up the bracketing in continuous mode. Other than that, it is point and shoot.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

HDR - High Dynamic Range Photography


I have been looking at the photos for a while, and wanted to try it...but couldn't make that first step...

A quick summary is- a normal photo averages out the exposure based on what the center of the picture is...if it is something dark, then everything else will be washed out...if it is light (like the sky) everything else will be dark.

HDR photography allows you to capture the details from both those extremes, glue them together via software, and you get a picture as real as you looking at it...or can even be super real...

If you search for HDR on google you will find plenty of good websites.

This is all I needed to know...

...previously I had put CHDK on my Canon A530 to give me control over the camera (actually specifically to do this)

...but the key was what to set where...CHDK has a submenu of its own, and that is where most of the settings go.
--here is the summary...
>Extra Photo Operations
>>Bracketing in continuous mode
>>>TV bracketing value [2EV] ...AV bracketing would be preferred, but my camera doesn't have it.

now to the normal camera menu, select continuous mode, 5 shots...and I use a 2 sec delay for the first shot.

Now sit back while the camera takes shots.

Now that you have the 5 shots, there are many ways to digitally glue them together...I use Photomatix ( haven't bought it yet...hence the watermark.

Here is one of my shots, with my camera sitting on a coffee cup in my hotel window.

Friday, March 12, 2010

iPod Touch

Well, I figured it was time to join the Apple cult...Actually there were some apps that I wanted to run, I don't want to use At&t for cell, and I need a windows phone anyway.

But the Touch has all the functionality of the phone...minus the camera/microphone/gps

The first step is to jailbrake the Touch. That allows you to add software that Apple doesn't sell etc.

There are two types of jailbroken iPods...tethered and untethered. Tethered means, whenever you turn on the device from a cold start, you need to be hooked to your computer...not very useful for most people.

Untethered means that even on a cold start, the iPod stays jailbroken, and will boot normally.

So knowing that...I found out that there is no untethered jailbrakes for OS 3.1.3, or higher, nor for the 32 and 64gb 3rd generation Touch.

Also the 8gig version for the 2nd gen and 3rd gen are identical, and they can be jailbroken/untethered.

So I got a 8gig 2nd gen Touch from Newegg. Downloaded iTunes, and a 3.1.2 OS , updated the Touch using 'shift'-RESTORE on the iTunes screen, and installing the 3.1.2 that I downloaded.

After a sucessful reboot of the Touch, I closed iTunes and started the latest version of 'redsn0w'.

I pointed the program to the same 3.1.2 that I had installed on the Touch, and let it do its thing. I installed Cydia...which is an apt-get type program, and you can define the you can install your own software.

Using Cydia, I installed 'RoqyGPS' which is supposed to allow your Touch to access a bluetooth GPS. (the OS 3.0 and later for the Touch enabled bluetooth for headphones). My bluetooth GPS puck seems to not be compatible, so I am getting one that should be...