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: