Thursday, September 29, 2011

555 Timer Driven KiteCam

The objective was to put a camera on a kite and have it take a picture every 15 seconds on so.

We started with a Vistaquest VQ1005. It's a very cheap, small, light, 1.3 megapixel camera that is easy to take apart and hack. It also has a SD card expansion slot and can function as a webcam. BTW, you can see our LauchPad MSP430 uC hack of this same model camera here.
Time to void the warranty. The Vistaquest VQ1005 comes apart easily with four small screws. We found a node on the circuit board that triggered the camera to take a picture when connect to the "-" lead of the battery; GROUND. We soldered a "trigger wire" from a 555 Timer to this node.
We then needed a way to connect the trigger wire to GROUND automatically. We used a 555 timer chip to provide this function. A low power CMOS 555 can be purchased for about one dollar. If the Vistaquest VQ1005 does not take a picture in 60 seconds it will shut off, so we designed a RC network for the 555 timer that would trigger a picture about every 20 seconds. The circuit looked like this:
Then we breadboarded a prototype.
After cleaning up the prototype, the rig was cleaner, smaller, lighter.
Here is the finished rig protected and ready for some kite crashing.
Here are a few vids taken with the setup:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AntCam Project

Document the several week long tunnel building process of the ants with a time lapsed video.

July 29, 2008: Just press "play" in on the pic above to watch the video. Have your sound on. 119 hours and 29 minutes are compressed down to less than 100 seconds. No ants were harmed in the making of this video.

July 28, 2008: The ants have bored about as many holes as possible. Only a few ants have died.

July 23, 2008: 39 harvester ants are placed into the AntWorks to toil away.

July 18, 2008: The ants arrived today, but they were all dead :(. We're working on getting fresh ones.

July 11, 2008: Antworks arrives. Ants on order.

July 03, 2008: Antworks ordered.

July 01, 2008: Setup testing begins.

The setup is simple. We have an old slow HP desktop running Windows XP. For a camera we have a standard $20 LogicTech wecam. We are running a fantastic free open source program called Dorgem that FTPs the images to our web host and saves the images to our hard drive. Very simple and very low cost.