7 hours of engineering pit from New Hampshire GSR FIRST Robotics competition compressed to 83 seconds

March 2nd, 2013

As soon as they opened the door at 8am this morning, I put the camera, tripod + arduino hack at the very top of the seating in the Verizon Wireless Center pointing down at the pit where the robots are prepped for competition.


*BEST* GSR (NH) FIRST Robotics time lapse in the pit (10fps)


GSR (NH) FIRST Robotics time lapse in the pit (5fps)


GSR (NH) FIRST Robotics time lapse in the pit (20fps)

After nearly seven hours (the length my camera’s battery lasted taking photos every 30 seconds) there were 835 photos which were converted to an AVI using:

mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mjpeg -o timelapse-10fps.avi -mf type=jpeg:fps=10 mf://*.JPG

and then converted to a much smaller M4V file using ghb aka the very handy Handbrake tool.

Sony Alpha-100 DSLR shutter control using an arduino and reed switches

February 9th, 2013

This is a follow up to my “time lapse photography using an arduino to drive a Sony Alpha-100 DSLR” post — basically I fixed it to ‘do it right’ instead of it being a horrible hack.

Here is the improved circuit diagram:

BetterCamera_bb

This uses two Reed Switches from Radio Shack for about $3 each — sure I could have used other types of switches or a transitor, but they use magnetism which is cooler ;-)

  1. Buy a cheap (~$7.00) shutter release cord to sacrifice to the project.
  2. Carefully cut and strip the wires from release cord. Shorting the green and blue wires causes the camera to focus. Shorting the green, blue and red wires after focusing causes the camera to shoot.
  3. Remember that my soldering days are long ago (hey, it was only an EE minor) and have one of the kids at our FIRST Robotics do it for me. Here is the result. Note that blue->white.

    Shutter release cord mapping

  4. Then connected the wires from the shutter release cord to pins as follows: (see the above Fritzing image)
    Green -> First Reed Switch
    Red -> Second Reed Switch
    Blue/White -> shared line with the other side of the switches (not this isn’t tied to ground or anything else)

  5. Now the improved code: I call it BetterCamera.ino


    /*
    * A better camera control for a Sony A-100 DSLR
    * marc@nozell.com
    */

    // Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards.
    // give it a name:
    int led = 13;
    int relayA = 2;
    int relayB = 3;

    // the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
    void setup() {

    Serial.begin(9600);

    if (Serial.available() )
    Serial.println("-- Starting ---");

    // initialize the digital pin as an output.
    pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(relayA, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(relayB, OUTPUT);

    }

    // the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
    void loop() {

    Serial.println("-- Focusing ---");

    // first focus -- short white & green

    digitalWrite(relayA, HIGH);
    delay(2000); // 2 sec
    digitalWrite(relayA, LOW);
    delay(1000); // 1 sec

    Serial.println("-- Take Photo ---");

    // then take a photo -- short white, green & red

    digitalWrite(relayA, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(relayB, HIGH);
    delay(1000); // 1 sec
    digitalWrite(relayA, LOW);
    digitalWrite(relayB, LOW);

    Serial.println("-- Sleep for 30s ---");
    delay(23000); // 2 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 23

    for (int i = 0; i < 3; i++) { // 3seconds
    digitalWrite(led, HIGH);
    delay(500);
    digitalWrite(led, LOW);
    delay(500);
    Serial.print(".");
    }
    Serial.println("!");
    }

  6. If you connect the release to the camera while the camera is on, even if here is no power to the arduino, it will take a couple photos. That is the kink. Just connect it up with the camera off and it will be fine.
  7. Consider setting the photo size to ‘standard’ — it saves a lot on disk space.
  8. Now find something interesting to point your camera at and come back later. In my case it was our backyard the day after the Nemo Blizzard of 2013 (we got all the snow overnight, so it isn’t riveting content).
  9. Download all the photos to a directory and use this linux command to convert the JPG images to an AVI file.

    mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mjpeg -o timelapse-30fps.avi -mf type=jpeg:fps=30 mf://*.JPG
  10. Before uploading to youtube, I ran it through Handbrake to knock down the size from 260M to less than 70MB.

Installing owncloud on a Raspberry Pi

January 17th, 2013

Spoiler: Just follow the official installation guide and you’ll be fine. Although you’ll probably want to put owncloud data on external storage. Surprised? It is just another linux server!

Below are the commands I used. Those in bold are where I did something slightly different in order to change the location where files are stored. In my case I have a powered USB disk mounted on /mnt.


$ sudo -i
[sudo] password for marc:
# apt-get install apache2 php5 php5-gd php-xml-parser \
php5-intl php5-sqlite php5-mysql smbclient curl \
libcurl3 php5-curl
...a bunch of packages installed...
# cd /var/www/
# tar jxf ~marc/owncloud-4.5.5.tar.bz2
# chown -R www-data:www-data owncloud/apps
# chown -R www-data:www-data owncloud/config
# mkdir /mnt/owncloud-data
# chown www-data:www-data /mnt/owncloud-data
# ln -s /mnt/owncloud-data/ /var/www/owncloud/data

Then point a browser to http://raspberrypi.local/owncloud and take all the defaults. That is leave the file location as /var/www/owncloud/data

Finally go download the sync clients from http://owncloud.org/sync-clients/ and drag-n-drop files in your ~/owncloud.

For testing I had ~180M of files in my ~/owncloud directory and the apache2 process hammered the RPi cpu for a while for the first sync from my desktop.

time lapse photography using an arduino to drive a Sony Alpha-100 DSLR

December 28th, 2012

Finally I got around to working out most of the kinks of having the an arduino control the shutter release of a Sony Alpha-100 DSLR camera.

  1. Buy a cheap (~$7.00) shutter release cord to sacrifice to the project.
  2. Carefully cut and strip the wires from release cord. Shorting the green and blue wires causes the camera to focus. Shorting the green, blue and red wires after focusing causes the camera to shoot.
  3. Remember that my soldering days are long ago (hey, was only an EE minor) and have one of the kids at our FIRST Robotics do it for me. Here is the result. Note that blue->white. The blue wires I have all seem to be a bit flakey.

    Shutter release cord mapping

  4. Find someone who has done something similar: http://ujwal.shrestha.me/arduino-intervalometer-for-sony-dslr/ and leverage their code. I’m not sure that is the right solution, but it worked for me. Something with MOSFETs I think, but that was years ago…

  5. Then connected the wires from the shutter release cord to pins as follows:
    Green -> Ground
    Red -> Digital pin 8
    Blue/White -> Digital pin 9

    Ardiuno pin mapping

  6. Now the code. I named it aifs30.ino:

    /*

    Heavily based on:

    http://ujwal.shrestha.me/arduino-intervalometer-for-sony-dslr/

    For complete writeup, see http://nozell.com/blog/

    The shutter release has 3 wires: green, red, blue which I had soldered
    to green, red and white (my blue wires are flakey)

    green - ground
    red - digital 8
    blue/white - digital 9

    green + blue/white => focus
    green + blue/white + red => take photo

    */

    void setup(void)
    {
    Serial.begin(115200);
    }

    void loop() {

    if (Serial.available() )
    Serial.println("VVVVVVVVVV");

    pinMode(8,OUTPUT);
    delay(100);
    pinMode(9,OUTPUT);

    if (Serial.available() )
    Serial.println("Sleep for 1/2 seconds");

    delay(500);

    if (Serial.available() )
    Serial.println("wake up and take photo ");

    pinMode(8,INPUT);

    delay(100);

    pinMode(9,INPUT);

    if (Serial.available() )
    Serial.println("ZZZZZZZZ Sleep for 30s");

    delay(10000);
    delay(10000);
    delay(10000);

    if (Serial.available() )
    Serial.println("^^^^^^^^^^");
    }

  7. If you connect the release to the camera while the camera is on, even if here is no power to the arduino, it will take a couple photos. That is the kink. Just connect it up with the camera off and it will be fine.
  8. Consider setting the photo size to ‘standard’ — it saves a lot on disk space.
  9. Now find something interesting to point your camera at and come back later. In my case it was our backyard chickens.
  10. Download all the photos to a directory and use this linux command to convert the JPG images to an AVI file.

    mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mjpeg -o timelapse-10fps.avi -mf type=jpeg:fps=10 mf://*.JPG
  11. upload to youtube and enjoy the results

Anti-Obama sign does not have the intended effect

November 8th, 2012

Whie the sign has been up on Baboosic Lake Rd, Merrimack, NH for a few weeks, it was only on election day I stopped and took a photo. Oddly that was the first time I noticed the typo. Who misspells “YOU” as “YOE”?

IF YOE HATE YOUR GRAND KIDS VOTE OBAMA


Today my wife noticed someone had updated the sign.


I VOTED FOR OBAMA BECAUSE OF THIS SIGN

President Obama (w/ President Clinton) Rally in Concord, NH (2012)

November 8th, 2012
Clinton, Lynch, ObamaSeamus the Romney Dog?It was a bit nippy (pre-time change)DSC06504.JPG4 city block line!Veterans for Obama
Crowd photo releaseGene Robinson Patricia J. Lee OFA_NHObama for America NH  Patricia J. Lee NH Senator Jeanne ShaheenNH Governor John Lynch w/ Dr. Susan Lynch
NH Governor John Lynch w/ Dr. Susan LynchNH Governor John Lynch w/ Dr. Susan LynchDSC06572.JPGSecret Service with his violin caseSecret Service with their guitar casesDSC06592.JPG
President ClintonPresident ClintonPresident ClintonPresident ClintonPresident ClintonPresident Clinton

President Obama (w/ President Clinton) Rally in Concord, NH (2012), a set on Flickr.

This was a *huge* rally 2 days before the election. Over 14k people, the largest ever in NH. While Kids #4, #5, #6 & I got there around 6:15am, there was already a long line and we didn’t get a great viewing spot. Before they opened the gates, the line serpentined up and down Main Street four times.

Senators Ayotte, Talent, Thune; Gov Jindal; Congresswoman Blackburn

November 8th, 2012
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Senators Ayotte, Talent, Thune; Gov Jindal; Congresswoman Blackburn, a set on Flickr.

It would be a crime *not* to take a look at all the national political figures making their way through NH every four years. Regardless of your political persuasion.

TIL Senator John Thune is really tall.

Keene Pumpkinfest 2012

November 8th, 2012
Ernie, Burt, Elmo and Cookie MonsterBest use of stemKeene Pumpkin Festival#YOLOLots of jack'o lanternsLots of people
redditDSC06197.JPGMust be a scary pumpkinDr WhoBugged out!SuperPumpkin!
Another SuperPumpkinWicked was a popular themeCan I get an upvote?Got Ovaries? Avoid Ovide!Lots and lots of pumpkinsDSC06176.JPG
That was a huge pumpkinhead!

Keene Pumpkinfest 2012, a set on Flickr.

Sadly Keene, NH did not win back the world record for most jack-o-lanterns…

Springfield College Home Show

November 8th, 2012
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Springfield College Home Show, a set on Flickr.

Kid #3 is looking at Springfield College for next year, specifically because of the Mens’ Gymnastics program.

Every year the students perform a gymnastics-based show for Home Coming.

Amazing performances!

1850 Wallace Farm (Merrimack, NH)

November 8th, 2012

1850 Wallace Farm (Merrimack, NH)