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Controlling time-lapse photography (Long)

Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by L.A.T., Jun 28, 2008.

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  1. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    I am experimenting with time-lapse photography in the bush, leaving the
    camera unattended.
    I have had very satisfying results using a Canon G2 connected to a very old
    Toshiba laptop running XP and Breeze Systems "G2 Remote".
    Shooting every ten seconds and capturing the images directly to the computer
    works well until the Toshiba battery runs out after about ninety minutes.
    G2 Remote will not run on a Vista machine or on any Linux machine.
    The advantage of using the G2 over any of the impressive DSLRs is that the
    G2 has no shutter, and therefore no shutter noise. The other advantage is
    that the camera battery lasts longer each session because, I believe, the
    shutter mechanism in the DSLRs gobbles battery power.
    I have bought a second G2 (ebay) and I wonder if I really need to use a
    computer at all.
    The memory card in the G2 is adequate for a recording session, if I can find
    a way to trigger the exposures at the time interval of my choice,
    automatically, or with some kind of remote triggering.
    The first possibility is a bolt-on solenoid that pushes the button,
    controlled by a timer circuit that I could probably cobble together from
    circuits published over the years in S.C.
    A bit noisy and a bit violent, I imagine.
    The second possibility is something similar but a bit more delicate, pushing
    the button on the little IR remote control that comes with the G2.
    I don't think the IR remote is robust enough to withstand much of that kind
    of punishment.
    The third possibility is to butcher one of those remotes (available for
    about $20) and bypass the mechanical part of the switch with a similar timer
    The fourth possibility is to make a little box with its own IR transmitter,
    sending the appropriate sequence as recognised by the G2. I don't know how
    to discover what this sequence would be, but I am sure it is discoverable.
    The fifth possibility is that there is some product out there, affordable,
    that does the job already.
    It is interesting that the G3, and the G5, and perhaps other Canons of that
    series have the time-lapse facility built in.
    Has anyone any experience in this area?
    Has anyone any suggestions?
  2. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest


    ** This sounds like a nice project for SC magazine.

    All it takes is a small RC servo, a pulse position contol circuit ( can be
    as simple as one LM555) and an adjustable interval timer. The lot could be
    done with one of the simplest PICs.

    The whole caboodle then goes in a plastic box with the servo positioned so
    it can push the camera shutter.

    To make a waterproof version for weather photography, add a clear lid.

    Power could be from four AA size NiMH cells - go for months.

    DLJ - where are you ??

    ...... Phil
  3. Tom

    Tom Guest

    The other way is to buy something like Canon S2 IS, it has the ability in the firmware. You just specify time interval and number of pictures to take. I'm sure other Canon models have this ability as well.

  4. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    Speaking of SC, the June edition has an updated version of the Flexitimer.
    It is designed to energise a 12Volt relay.
    It seems to me that I could leave out the relay and replace it with two
    leads going to a butchered Canon IR remote with appropriate resistance to
    lower the voltage to the three volts required by the remote. These two leads
    would replace the shutter switch on the remote. The flexitimer could sit on
    the ground and the IR remote could be fixed up near the camera, pointing at
    the IR receiver.
    IR remotes claiming to be suitable for the G2 camera are available for less
    than $10. I am tempted to give it a try. I like the idea of a system that
    has no mechanical components and uses existing systems.
  5. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Phil Allison"

    ** I like idea of a dead simple, low cost method that will works with a huge
    range of budget priced digital cameras.

    Plus it involves no access to the insides of the camera or anything else.

    Be great for surveillance applications as well as time lapse imaging.

    ...... Phil
  6. IR would be the best solution.
    I know someone that got an IR kit (from China via eBay I think) for a
    G2, and I believe there are many circuits and PIC code etc around the
    I like the idea of no mechanical bits too.

    Why don't modern cameras have this function? Would be great if they
    could power up in the last mode, take a pic, then shut down until the
    next time period. It's just a bit of firmware.

  7. Dand

    Dand Guest

    Not only that, but most cameras have an external trigger, you just have to
    find the right pins, usually its not even mentioned in the manual either.
  8. In that case the OP is much better off simply getting one of these. No
    mess, no fuss, and best us of battery life.

  9. ReSiN8oR

    ReSiN8oR Guest

    Your only fault, and the OP too for considering it, a servo would
    introduce camera shake, resulting in blurry photos. Much better to use
    IR in this application, or by using the remote shutter release port on
    the camera, if the camera has one.
  10. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "ReSiN8oR" :

    ** Wot fucking bollocks !!!!!!!!!!!

    Do fingers on the button cause no such shake ?

    Does a hand held camera not shake ?

    The arrangement I outlined would not shake one tiny bit.

    **** off.

    You smug, anonymous fucking arsehole .

    ...... Phil
  11. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    Once again, thank you all for your comments and suggestions.
    Buying a new camera is out of the question, alas.
    I have decided to make the Flexitimer Mk4 from June's S.C. and use it to
    switch an I.R. remote.
    I have ordered a couple of remotes from a place in Hong Kong at, wait for
    it, $1.90 each. Postage $7.00
    It seems a very low price but I know of people who have dealt with them and
    they are legit.
    I imagine I will destroy the first one as I try to find out how to get
    inside it.
    My electronics expertise ended with the valve era, so I am uncertain about a
    few things. Has anyone seen the circuit for this flexitimer?
    It seems to me that the only reason it needs 12Volts is to actuate the
    relay. Anything else is on the other side of a 5Volt regulator.
    My question: If I use the device without the relay, would it work if its
    supply was 6Volts?
  12. Andy Wood

    Andy Wood Guest

    It doesn't look like anything other than the relay needs 12V. As it
    stands, the 5V to the PIC will start to droop if you go below about
    7.5V (drop across D8, and the requirements of the 78L05), but you
    might be hard pressed to notice the difference since the PIC should be
    happy with its voltage below 5V. The specification for the PIC used
    says it will run as low as 3V but it could depend on whether they have
    programmed "brownout reset" to be enabled.

    Andy Wood
  13. Chris Baird

    Chris Baird Guest

    The other way is to buy something like Canon S2 IS, it has the
    A number of last-generation Canon powershot cameras can be
    reprogrammed with free software firmware THAT LEAVES EVERYTHING ELSE
    FOR DEAD. See:

    With CHDK, there's motion-sensing triggering (fast enough to capture
    lightning!), BASIC scripting, arbitary ISO control, Exposure control
    (from infinity to ~1/50,000s), and about a hundred of other features.
    It's GPL software that turns a $100 camera into a $80,000 camera for

    I'm doing exactly the same thing the original poster is doing to
    capture noctural fuana in the act, but with a "$100" Canon Powershot
    A550, using the 'allbest' replacement firmware, and no modifictions to
    the camera at all-- not even to the onboard firmware. The only
    hardware you'd probably need is an external 3.15VDC power source--
    something that's trivial to provide.
  14. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    For the record, and for those interested, I have made the flexitimer without
    installing the relay.
    It runs well at nine volts and if I remove the LED and take two wires from
    its site, it seems to actuate the I.R. remote reliably.
    Next step is to see if I can find a simple, small, I.R. transmitter circuit
    1. discover what sort of sequence the Canon expects, and
    2. discover how to transmit such a sequence.

    Google (everybody's friend) tells me that many of the cameras with some sort
    of time-lapse built in are not versatile enough to do even the simple task
    we want.
    And that there is a $40 plug-in device already available from Hong Kong that
    does exactly what we want for the Canon 350D and 450D.
    It is called the Phottix C1.
  15. L.A.T.

    L.A.T. Guest

    Once more, for those interested, I have finished my timer/remote
    It is called the iThumb.

    I have used one of the IR remotes from Hong Kong.

    The PCB is covered by a stick-on plastic cover with membrane switches and
    can be peeled off..
    The box in the middle has the switches for the Canon camera, and the top
    left "S" is the shutter release.
    Shorting this switch actuates the shutter.
    The add-on block of white domestic terminals is held in place by one screw
    and Araldite.
    The outer two terminals are soldered to appropriate places on the PCB and
    the two centre terminals are soldered to the site of the 3Volt button
    battery so that a battery-holder with 2 AA batteries can be connected.
    The IR LED is removed and soldered to the lugs on a RCA plug.
    The PCB lugs where the IR LED was sited are connected to a RCA socket in the
    jiffy box.
    The IR LED can be plugged directly into the box
    or attached to the box via a short RCA cable with a plug at one end and a
    socket at the other..

    The device works reliably with the box sitting at the base of the tripod,
    pointing up to the camera, best with a piece of cardboard at an angle over
    the IR receiver in the camera as a deflector.
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