Prototype number one

One step closer.

580EX flash

Last night I successfully fired a strobe with a microswitch hooked up to my Arduino.  I’m aware that at this point, the setup is a needlessly complicated and expensive version of just pushing the “test” button on the back of the flash, but hey, progress is progress!  Now all I need to do is replace the microswitch with a break-beam or sound trigger, build a variable delay into the program, and viola, I should be up and running!  Hit the jump for a photo of the jury rigged mess of wires. More >

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Age and treachery vs youth and skill

KodachromeWhen I was home for dinner at my parent’s house last weekend, my dad and I got to talking about the last roll of Kodachrome ever manufactured, which was just recently shot by photographer Steve McCurry (best known for his photo of the Afghan girl with the beautiful eyes).

McCurry was given the roll by Kodak themselves, and it was developed at Dewayne’s Photo, in Parsons, Kansas, the only place left IN THE WORLD that can process Kodachrome.  Dewayne’s will only be offering processing through December 30th of this year, so if you’ve got any Kodachrome around, you’d better get shooting!

At this point, my dad mentioned that he had some sitting in the fridge from years ago, sealed and unexposed.  Cue me running to the kitchen and digging through a shoebox of expired film, and coming up with two rolls of 24 exposure, ASA 64 Kodachrome color slide film. More >

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Some assembly required.

My "workbench"

My "workbench"

My order from Maker Shed arrived today, some wiring, a mini breadboard, and a protoshield kit.  From the product description, it’s not super apparent that it comes unassembled, but when I opened the box I found that was indeed the case.  I’d been planning to learn to solder eventually, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but this did accelerate my learning a bit!

I had to run to my parent’s house for dinner anyways, so I took the opportunity to pick up my dad’s old soldering iron, solder, and third hand, and proceeded to learn to solder by watching various YouTube videos on the subject.  Once I felt I had the gist of it, I broke out the protoshield and got to work, following the instructions here.

Solder ConnectionsAt the start of the project, all those pins seemed pretty intimidating, but once I’d soldered in the first couple without incident, I gained some confidence and was able to chew through them pretty quickly.  I was surprised by how nice (at least to my untrained eye) most of my connections turned out!  I tested a few with my multimeter just to make sure everything went as planned.

When the moment of truth arrived, I fit the protoshield on top of the Arduino, plugged in a couple LEDs, since the controller was still programmed with my scrolling LED sketch, and plugged it in.  Sure enough, all three LEDs worked as advertised, blinking merrily away.  With the protoshield stacked on the Arduino, you have a nice, compact package to prototype circuits, without needing to wire up a separate breadboard.  Now that I’ve cleared this hurdle, my next step will be to work on making the controller send a trigger signal to my Paul C. Buff Cybersync CST flash trigger, which I can then use to fire my strobes wirelessly.  After that, I’ll work on hooking up my sensors and making them fire the flash.  Progress is being made!

Protoshield and Arduino

The newly assembled protoshield atop my Arduino

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Lightning over the San Juans

Timing is everything

I was on an 11-day, 3500 mile road trip last week, and at one point in Colorado I got the opportunity to try and capture some really amazing lightning over the San Juan Mountains.  I set my Canon 7D up on the deck railing, attaching it with the Lightning over the San JuansGorillapod Focus I bought for the trip (which I’ll be reviewing later), set a small aperture to give me a longish shutter speed to increase my chances of catching a flash, and started snapping away.  After about 300 photos, I’d caught maybe 6 strikes, with this being by far the best of them.

If it had been darker, I would likely have had more success, since I’d be able to have a longer shutter speed (this was taken at 1 second or so), which would give me a better ratio of shutter open to shutter closed time.  The split second timing and blind luck required to get these lightning photos reminded me of another photographic adventure I had a while ago, shooting water drops. I just used a ziploc bag with a pin hole in it, and relied on reflexes and luck to fire the lights at the right time, but after seeing work like the photo below by David Pearson (fpsurgeon on flickr), I’ve been interested in setting up a more automated solution to both increase the percentage of keepers, and to allow me to shoot more complex things like the droplet collision below.


To this end, I just went ahead and ordered up an Arduino Duemilanove, the book Getting Started with Arduino, and some accessories so I can put together a DIY trigger that will allow me to shoot stuff like this, along with other types of high-speed photography.  This will also serve the dual purpose of improving my knowledge of programming and basic electronics, so I like to look at it as killing three birds with one stone.  I’ll be chronicling my progress here at NerdsIRL, so keep an eye out for an update sometime after the Arduino and book arrive Wednesday!

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30K In the Air

Technology is pretty amazing.  I remember when I first experienced in flight entertainment.  It was amazing.  Now, I will write this post and publish it all while sipping on a diet coke 30000 feet in the air.

I’m not sure exactly how they do it, but I assume they are using cell towers.  I could probably figure it out by searching the internet (yea, we get everything up here!), but I’d like to see if I can get WoW to work.


The only down side to flying on the Boeing 737 or Airbus 319/320 class of planes is that they don’t have power outlets.  I believe the 757 and 747 have power outlets.  That would be amazing!

The reason I’m writing at the moment, is that weather in Atlanta caused around half of the flights out of LGA (Laguardia, NY) to be canceled yesterday.  Some negotiations with Delta representatives got me on an 11:30am out of EWR (Newark, NJ).  The upside is that I am now flying first class.  I would like to add that if you are ever in Jersey City, the Westin there is a fantastic hotel.  Very comfortable and fairly spacious amenities.  The shower is a dual headed shower, which was also amazing.

Ok, battery life is precious on this monster of a computer.  I may have to switch over to my work computer depending on how fast WoW drains the battery life.

These have been random thoughts from 30k In the Air.

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Holy stop-motion/time-lapse!

The scale of this video blows my mind.  What an awesome mashup of stop-motion and time-lapse photography!  If you think the video is great, make sure to check out the making of to see how they did it.  You can also view a Google map of the trip here.

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Your week in Lego

I had a crazily busy weekend, so I’ll make it short and very sweet!  Some awesome creations came out this week, and here’s a few.

Larry Lars put together this compilation of his Star Wars cubedudes.  The creative use of various parts for the details on these guys just blows me away!  CubeDudes also made an appearance at ComicCon last week, although these were limited edition sets sold by creator Angus McClane.

My Star Wars CubeDudes

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