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Gadget Freak Case #211: High-Speed Photography Circuit
4/19/2012

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James Hartnett's high-speed circuit can trigger a flash when movement or sound is detected.
James Hartnett's high-speed circuit can trigger a flash when movement or sound is detected.

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Beth Stackpole
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Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
Beth Stackpole   4/19/2012 6:18:57 AM
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Looks like a pretty interesting solution and likely a lot cheaper (and much more fun) than buying some sort of expensive high-speed lens. I'd love to see the fruits of Hartnett's labors in terms of how his gadget actually performs vis a vie picture quality.

naperlou
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Re: Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
naperlou   4/19/2012 9:19:59 AM
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It's amazing how few components are required sometimes.  Good project.

Charles Murray
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Re: Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
Charles Murray   4/19/2012 7:35:58 PM
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I agree, Naperlou. The article doesn't say how much he spent, but the bill of materials indicates that the most expensive component was the breadboard at $20.19. There's no price listed for the camera, but it's probably no more than that. Amazing.

NadineJ
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Re: Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
NadineJ   4/19/2012 11:16:00 AM
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This is intersting.  Because the shutter has to stay open, the applications are limited.  But, could this be used for deep-sea underwater photography?  Imagine what we haven't seen because sea creatures are avoiding the bright lights used now.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
Rob Spiegel   4/19/2012 11:35:08 AM
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That's a really good question, Nadine. With some modifications, I would imagine it could be used for deep sea. You already have the dark, so it's just a matter of a quick flash for illumination. So you can shoot the fish (so to speak) before it scares.

dajjhman
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Re: Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
dajjhman   4/19/2012 12:35:09 PM
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I haven't scanned most of my high speed negatives (I'm still a film guy for a lot of things and I make my own prints when I do things like this)

I may dig up more negatives later, but a few of my first shots from the initial testing can be found on my website's gallery page (can't post a direct link at the moment): jhartnett.gawsolutions.us

As well you can find details on other projects

 

-Jimmy

And @ Rob, thanks for the feature!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Cheaper alternative to a high-speed lens
Rob Spiegel   4/19/2012 3:25:53 PM
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Thanks for submitting a cool gadget, Jimmy. I thought the comment about underwater photography was interesting. Since the flash only occurs at the moment of the shot, there is no light to scare away deep-sea creatures. 

txhamguy
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Schemat
txhamguy   4/19/2012 5:29:48 PM
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There is no ground connection to the SCR in the schematic but the breadboard shows the black lead from the flash connected to the ground of the circuit. Looks like a fun project!

dajjhman
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Re: Schemat
dajjhman   4/19/2012 5:43:34 PM
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Whoops! There is supposed to be a ground symbol there.

my bad

-Jimmy

Mydesign
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Shutter speed.
Mydesign   4/20/2012 3:26:14 AM
James, normally digital cameras have a shutter speed for 1/500 to 1/5000 of a second. Moreover in a second we can capture maximum of 15 shots. What I understood is that, the mechanical parts/components required a minimum time to complete the process; irrespective of the shutter speed. I mean the system introduce a minimum delay between the frames for completing the capturing process.

I appreciate your effort, can you justify the need for such a fast response system.

ervin0072002
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Re: Shutter speed.
ervin0072002   4/20/2012 7:12:15 AM
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I think the Shutter Speed he is talking about is that single use camera. I am pretty sure there is some DSLR's out there that can capture 5-30 frames a second at full resolution, limiting factor being the buffer for the data coming from the light sensor. If you degrade resolution you can theoretically go as fast as your shutter.

Tool_maker
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Re: Shutter speed.
Tool_maker   4/20/2012 9:07:46 AM
Sometimes no real justufication is needed other than the obvious desire to create. Now if the inventor was looking for a government grant, you might have a legitimate complaint, but in this case just wanting to take a picture of a bursting balloon is reason enough.

On the other hand if he was going after government money all he would have to do is hang the word "GREEN" in front of it and he might have gotten millions. I applaud people who tinker, "just because." It looks like a fun project.

cdwpatch
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Re: Shutter speed.
cdwpatch   4/20/2012 10:35:01 AM
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I built a microphone triggered circuit like this when I was at high school age.  It was a lot of fun to use.  I took pictures of balloons popping, lightbulbs smashing, firecrackers exploding, etc. with a traditional film camera at the time.   Digital would make this a lot easier...if you have a camera with really long exposure capability.  I should go through my junk box and see if I still have the trigger unit I built.

Yes, modern digital cameras can take several shots a second, but the images will still have motion blur.  To really stop motion well, you need an exposure speed upwards of around 1/50,000 second, which is about the duration of many flash units.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Shutter speed.
Rob Spiegel   4/26/2012 3:31:35 PM
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Cdwpatch,

This sounds like it could be a good Gadget Freak entry. Send me your email address and I'll send out sheet of requirements.

rob.spiegel@ubm.com


dajjhman
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Re: Shutter speed.
dajjhman   4/20/2012 2:20:54 PM
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The shutter speed on modern cameras is good, but I was talking about shutter response time. Canon and Nikkon professional cameras are HORRENDOUS in responding to high speed events, with a response time of between .1-.5 ms (when I last looked at their specs a year or two ago, may be better now).

The only camera on the consumer or professional markets with a fast enough response time for real high speed events, but still not as fast as a flash exposure notheless, are the casio EX-FH20 and EX-f1. The EX-FH20 doesn't have external shutter control though, so it would need to be modified. The repsponse time on these is around 0.01ms last time I looked into it.  

The shutter speed means nothing if the camera is too slow in activating it from a signal. 

On top of that, when operating in video moe you have no way of syncing the event with a frame of video on those cameras. if you watch my video embedded you'll notice that sometimes you see the flash go off when I trigger it, and sometimes not. This is because the flash came between frame grabs by the digital image sensor.

To top things off, the high frame rate capture mode on those cameras is always at reduced resolution form a normal still capture, and with this method it works on any camera as long as it has Bulb mode or multi second exposures, which oens the door to using the superior resolution of Medium and Large format cameras.

 

As for the cost, and I think the video stated it, you just need a used disposable camera and most placeswill just give you one if they still process them. If not, then around $5-10.

The rest of the circuit should be around $5, minus a breadboard if you want to go that route but I only used that for demonstration purposes and for the build instructions.

-Jimmy

rick oleson
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Gold
Interesting, but as news....
rick oleson   4/20/2012 9:23:48 AM
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It's an interesting project to do, but the technique goes back nearly 80 years now:

http://luag.org/pages/viewfull.cfm?ElementID=473&nplang=EN

 

jhankwitz
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Platinum
An old fashion method, but cheep and simple
jhankwitz   4/20/2012 4:59:21 PM
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Back in the early 70's I used to take strobe photos synced using a coffee can, balloon, nickel, and a few wires.

 

1. Remove both ends of the coffee can. 

2. Cut the balloon and stretch it over one end of the can and securely tape with duct tape.

3. Solder a 20 gage wire to a nickel, and glue the nickel to the outside center of the stretched balloon.

4. Wrap a length of insulated 8 gage solid wire around the can and extend the end over the ballooned end and form it so the stripped wire tip almost touches the nickel.

5. Connect a strobe sync cable to the nickel and 8 gage wires. 

6. Clap your hand near the open end of the can and watch the strobe fire.

 

Sync delay is adjusted by moving the can closer or further away from the sound source.  Sound sensitivity is adjusted by bending and adjusting the 8 gage stripped wire closer or further from the nickel.  

I took many a great photo using this simple setup.  This was used to capture the rifle bullet destroying a Master Padlock in the late-70s advertisement.  It took over a dozen Polaroids to get the sync just right, and then several dozen locks to get one to look just right.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: An old fashion method, but cheep and simple
Rob Spiegel   4/26/2012 3:28:20 PM
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Jhandwitz,

This sounds like it could be a good Gadget Freak entry. Send me your email address and I'll send out sheet of requirements.

rob.spiegel@ubm.com

cdwpatch
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Iron
Re: Nice project
cdwpatch   4/26/2012 3:41:38 PM
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I didn't learn electronics in a high school class, I learned from DIY electronics magazines to start with, then formally at college.   I did take an electronics elective in high school, but it was all tube circuits, and that was in 1980, LOL.

Ironically, I have recently taken up tinkering with tube-based amplifiers as a hobby.

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