Archive for November, 2009

Camera Axe 3.0

Purchase the Camera Axe at this store.

I’ve done a lot of refinement since releasing the original version of the Camera Axe.

The Camera Axe is a tool for photographers to trigger cameras or flashes based on signals from various sensors. In this version there are two ports for sensors such as a microphone, a motion detector, or light sensor; and there are two ports for camera/flash devices. The Camera Axe is useful for stop motion photography where an action happens too quickly for human reflexes (photographing a popping balloon, lightning, or a milk droplet splash). Other uses can be to catch things photographers don’t want to wait around for such as birds flying to a bird feeder or surveillance of people walking down a hallway. The possibilities are endless. The hardware and firmware for this device are all open source under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License meaning that it’s possible to adapt this platform for specialized uses.

Below are a few links important links for this project:

  • Build Guild – Detailed step by step information on how to build your own Camera Axe (includes full BOM and suggested part suppliers).
  • User Manual – Describes how the software menu works, lists sensor/accessors, and gives some example use cases.
  • Image Gallery – Pretty pictures taken with Camera Axe Hardware.
  • Dreaming Robots Store – My online store where I sell Camera Axe kits, sensors, and other accessories.
  • Firmware Source – Source code that controls the Camera Axe (designed to be loaded via Arduino bootloader).
  • Camera Axe PCB Eagle Files – Circuit board source files.

List of improvements for this version:

  • Decided to use smart sensors. This means instead of having a special port on the Camera Axe for a Microphone that has the amplifier built into the Camera Axe, I’ve decided to put the amplifier on the sensor. This gives maximum flexibility in sensor combination, reduces the number of ports, and makes it simpler to use the Camera Axe.
  • Flash and Cameras use the share 2 ports. This means you could use 2 flashes, 2 cameras, or one of each. In the original version you only had the option to use one of each.
  • Removed the active port LEDs. These didn’t seem too useful and I was running out of pins.
  • Added power transistors to control whether the sensor ports are receiving power. This is useful to turn off things like a laser beam sensor just before taking a photo. A way of controlling this was also added to the software.
  • A reset to factory default and a way to control LCD back light brightness were added to software.
  • Large clean up of software source to make using it and modifying it easier.
  • Left out the remote control option since it was expensive and had little demand.
  • Lots changes to the electrical components used to reduce cost and make assembly easier.
  • Much better documentation (Builders Guide and User Guide).
  • Added a store to sell it because of a demand for this from the original version.

Feel free to discuss this or other topics at my forum.

Some of those following this project might be asking what happened to version 2.0. I got to the point of ordering a batch of PCBs and I even built one. I had gone with the mentality that more is better. This monster had 6 ports and each port had a different task. While I was writing the software for this version I decided that it was going to be too confusing to use so I stopped working on 2.0.  A simplified 3.0 version was born which tried to add new functionality while keeping it simple to use.

Comments (36)