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Over the last few years, the price of a good digital picture frame has dropped to the point that we don’t often see DIY versions anymore. As much as we might hate to admit it, it’s hard to justify building something yourself when the economies of scale have made it so you can buy the final product for less than the cost of the parts themselves. But of course, there are always fringe cases where building it might be the only way to get what you need.

Granted we’re not sure that [Tony Liu] actually needs a 1.8-inch digital picture frame, but we’re sure somebody out there does. The ST7735R display used in this project is a real TFT, so the color and refresh rate is pretty good; but with a resolution of just 128×160, we’d recommend keeping your expectations low in regards to visual fidelity.

What’s really interesting about this project is how low the part count is. All you need is the ST7735R display and the ESP8266 itself (or the development board of your choice, naturally). Even the 3D printed frame is technically optional. The display is driven by SPI, so with the power added in, that’s only eight wires that need to be soldered between the two devices. If you’re looking for an easy way to add a photo slideshow to a small device, say a conference badge, this is about as easy as it gets.

But where are the images coming from? You might think SPIFFS, but in this case [Tony] has converted the images to bitmaps and is loading them into the Arduino Sketch as a header file with PROGMEM. Helpfully, he provides the link for the tool he uses to convert the images into an array the graphics library can understand. This makes adding new images slightly time consuming, but we imagine if you have the need for something like this, it’s probably only showing a pretty specific set of images anyway.

If you’re looking for something bigger, or maybe just an excuse to put that dusty Raspberry Pi to use, you might be interested in one of the more substantial builds we’ve seen over the years.

If you want to take beautiful night sky pictures with your DSLR and you live between 15 degrees and 55 degrees north latitude you might want to check out OpenAstroTracker. If you have a 3D printer it will probably take about 60 hours of printing, but you’ll wind up with a pretty impressive setup for your camera. There’s an Arduino managing the tracking and also providing a “go to” capability.

The design is over on Thingiverse and you can find code on GitHub. There’s also a Reddit dedicated to the project. The tracker touts its ability to handle long or heavy lenses and to target 180 degrees in every direction.

Some of the parts you must print are specific to your latitude to within 5 degrees, so if you live at latitude 43 degrees, you could pick the 40-degree versions of the parts. So far though, you must be in the Northern hemisphere between 15 and 55 degrees.

What kind of images can you expect? The site says this image of Andromeda was taken over several nights using a Soligor 210mm f/4 lens with ISO 800 film.

Not bad at all! Certainly not the view from our $25 department store telescope.

If you’d rather skip the Arduino, try a cheap clock movement. Or you can replace the clock and the Arduino with yourself.

Just a few years ago, had someone asked you how much a digital camera with WiFi would cost, you probably wouldn’t have said $6. But that’s about how much [Bitluni] paid for an ESP32-CAM. He wanted to try making the little camera do time lapse, and it turns out that’s pretty easy to do.

Of course, the devil is in the details. The camera starts out needing configuration on the USB interface and that enables the set up of Arduino integration and WiFi configuration. Because it stores each frame of the image on an SD card, the board can’t take rapid-fire pictures. [Bitluni] reports a 3-second delay was about the shortest he could manage, but for most purposes, he was using at least ten seconds.

The program has a live preview window to help you set up the shot, but before you recordings start that should be turned off so as not to overload the little processor and the I/O busses. The result is a bunch of JPG images that you can easily convert that to a video on a PC if you wish.

This might be a good way to fit a camera on a 3D printer, especially if the time lapse effect was desired. Otherwise, you might sync to a layer change. Now all [bitluni] needs is an orbital rig.

It’s a well-known fact in capitalist societies that any product or service, if being used in a wedding, instantly triples in cost. Wanting to avoid shelling out big money for a simple photo booth for a friend’s big day, [Lewis] decided to build his own.

Wanting a quality photo output, a Canon DSLR was selected to perform photographic duties. An Arduino Nano is then pressed into service to run the show. It’s hooked up to a MAX7219 LED matrix which feeds instructions to the willing participants, who activate the system with a giant glowing arcade button. When pressed, the Nano waits ten seconds and triggers the camera shutter, doing so three times. Images are displayed on a screen hooked up to the camera’s USB port.

It’s a build that keeps things simple. No single-board PCs needed, just a camera, an Arduino, and a monitor for the display. We’re sure the wedding-goers had a great time, and we look forward to seeing what [Lewis] comes up with next. We’ve seen a few of his hacks around here before, too.

Have you built a 3D scanner yet? There’s more than one way to model those curves and planes, but the easiest may be photogrammetry — that’s the one where you take a bunch of pictures and stitch them into a 3D model. If you build a scanner like [Brian Brocken]’s that does almost everything automatically, you might consider starting a scan-and-print side hustle.

This little machine spins objects 360° and triggers a Bluetooth remote tethered to an iPhone. In automatic mode, it capture anywhere from 2-200 pictures. There’s a mode for cinematic shots that shoots video of the object slowly spinning around, which makes anything look at least 35% more awesome. A third mode offers manual control of the turntable’s position and speed.

An Arduino UNO controls a stepper that moves the turntable via 3D printed-in-place bearing assembly. This project is a (vast) improvement over [Brian]’s hand-cranked version that we looked at over the summer, though both are works of art in their own right.

Our favorite part aside from the bearing is the picture-taking process itself. [Brian] couldn’t get the iPhone to play nice with HC-05 or -06 modules, so he’s got the horn of 9g servo tapping the shutter button on a Bluetooth remote. This beautiful beast is wide open, so fire up that printer. You can watch the design and build process of the turntable after the break.

Want to scan some really tiny things? Make a motorized microscope from movie machines.

[JBumstead] didn’t want an ordinary microscope. He wanted one that would show the big picture, and not just in a euphemistic sense, either. The problem though is one of resolution. The higher the resolution in an image — typically — the narrower the field of view given the same optics, which makes sense, right? The more you zoom in, the less area you can see. His solution was to create a microscope using a conventional camera and building a motion stage that would capture multiple high-resolution photographs. Then the multiple photos are stitched together into a single image. This allows his microscope to take a picture of a 90x60mm area with a resolution of about 15 μm. In theory, the resolution might be as good as 2 μm, but it is hard to measure the resolution accurately at that scale.

As an Arduino project, this isn’t that difficult. It’s akin to a plotter or an XY table for a 3D printer — just some stepper motors and linear motion hardware. However, the base needs to be very stable. We learned a lot about the optics side, though.

Two Nikon lenses and an aperture stop made from black posterboard formed a credible 3X magnification element. We also learned about numerical aperture and its relationship to depth of field.

One place the project could improve is in the software department. Once you’ve taken a slew of images, they need to blend together. It can be done manually, of course, but that’s no fun. There’s also a MATLAB script that attempts to automatically stitch the images together, blending the edges together. According to the author, the code needs some work to be totally reliable. There are also off-the-shelf stitching solutions, which might work better.

We’ve seen similar setups for imaging different things. We’ve even seen it applied to a vintage microscope.

Before going into the journalism program at Centennial College in Toronto, [Carolyn Pioro] was a trapeze performer. Unfortunately a mishap in 2005 ended her career as an aerialist when she severed her spinal cord,  leaving her paralyzed from the shoulders down. There’s plenty of options in the realm of speech-to-text technology which enables her to write on the computer, but when she tried to find a commercial offering which would let her point and shoot a DSLR camera with her voice, she came up empty.

[Taras Slawnych] heard about [Carolyn’s] need for special camera equipment and figured he had the experience to do something about it. With an Arduino and a couple of servos to drive the pan-tilt mechanism, he came up with a small device which Carolyn can now use to control a Canon camera mounted to an arm on her wheelchair. There’s still some room for improvement (notably, the focus can’t be controlled via voice currently), but even in this early form the gadget has caught the attention of Canon’s Canadian division.

With a lavalier microphone on the operator’s shirt, simple voice commands like “right” and “left” are picked up and interpreted by the Arduino inside the device’s 3D printed case. The Arduino then moves the appropriate servo motor a set number of degrees. This doesn’t allow for particularly fine-tuned positioning, but when combined with movements of the wheelchair itself, gives the user an acceptable level of control. [Taras] says the whole setup is powered off of the electric wheelchair’s 24 VDC batteries, with a step-down converter to get it to a safe voltage for the Arduino and servos.

As we’ve seen over the years, assistive technology is one of those areas where hackers seem to have a knack for making serious contribution’s to the lives of others (and occasionally even themselves). The highly personalized nature of many physical disabilities, with specific issues and needs often unique to the individual, can make it difficult to develop devices like this commercially. But as long as hackers are willing to donate their time and knowledge to creating bespoke assistive hardware, there’s still hope.

[Thanks to Philippe for the tip.]

Taking pictures in the 21st century is incredibly easy. So easy in fact that most people don’t even own a dedicated camera; from smartphones to door bells there are cameras built into nearly electronic device we own. So in this era of ubiquitous photography, you might think that a very slow and extremely low resolution camera wouldn’t be of interest. Under normal circumstances that’s probably true, but this single pixel camera built by [Tucker Shannon] is anything but normal.

At the heart of his unusual camera is the TCS34725 RGB color sensor from Adafruit which receives a tightly focused beam of incoming light by way of a 3D printed enclosure and a 3mm OD aluminum tube. This allows an Arduino Uno to determine the color of this tiny slice of light, making up a single pixel of the final color image. [Tucker] notes that you could even swap the color sensor out for a simple photocell if you don’t mind a black & white image at the end of the process.

In either event, once the light has been analyzed the sensor is repositioned autoturret-style by way of dual BYJ-48 stepper motors. This process continues on, spiraling outwards until the whole image is stitched together from these individual readings

Now compared to the camera in your phone, the resulting image might be a bit underwhelming. We’d say it’s a bit like looking at a digital picture on an 8 bit computer, but in truth even that might be overly generous. But even if it isn’t as crisp as modern eyes would like there’s no question that it’s certainly a recognizable image, which is all [Tucker] was shooting for.

Of course if your optical frugality is such that even this low-resolution camera is too sharp for your tastes, we’ve seen a similar concept  using a roof-mounted solar array.

Light painting: there’s something that never gets old about waving lights around in a long exposure photo. Whilst most light paintings are single shots, some artists painstakingly create frame-by-frame animations. This is pretty hard to do when moving a light around by hand: it’s mostly guesswork, as it’s difficult to see the results of your efforts until after the photo has been taken. But what if you could make the patterns really precise? What if you could model them in 3D?

[Josh Sheldon] has done just that, by creating a process which allows animations formed in Blender to be traced out in 3D as light paintings. An animation is created in Blender then each frame is automatically exported and traced out by an RGB LED on a 3D gantry. This project is the culmination of a lot of software, electronic and mechanical work, all coming together under tight tolerances, and [Josh]’s skill really shines.

The first step was to export the animations out of Blender. Thanks to its open source nature, Python Blender add-ons were written to create light paths and convert them into an efficient sequence that could be executed by the hardware. To accommodate smooth sliding camera movements during the animation, a motion controller add-on was also written.

The gantry which carried the main LED was hand-made. We’d have been tempted to buy a 3D printer and hack it for this purpose, but [Josh] did a fantastic job on the mechanical build, gaining a solidly constructed gantry with a large range. The driver electronics were also slickly executed, with custom rack-mount units created to integrate with the DragonFrame controller used for the animation.

The video ends on a call to action: due to moving out, [Josh] was unable to continue the project but has done much of the necessary legwork. We’d love to see this project continued, and it has been documented for anyone who wishes to do so. If you want to check out more of [Josh]’s work, we’ve previously written about that time he made an automatic hole puncher for music box spools.

Thanks for the tip, [Nick].

Photography turntables are made for both the precise and lazy. Whether you are concerned about the precision of consistent angles during a photo shoot or you simply do not want to stand there rotating a plate after every picture — yes, it does get old — a lazy susan style automatic photography turntable is the ticket. This automatic 360° design made over at circuito.io satisfies both of these needs in an understated package

The parts required to make this DIY weekend project are about as minimal as they get. An Arduino Uno controls it all with a rotary encoder for input and a character LCD to display settings. The turntable moves using a stepper motor and an EasyDriver. It even takes care of controlling the camera using an IR LED.

The biggest obstruction most likely to arise is creating the actual laser cut casing itself. The circuito team avoided this difficulty by using Pololu‘s online custom laser cutting service for the 4 necessary laser cut parts. After all of the components have been brought together, all that is left to do is Avengers assemble. They provide step by step instructions for this process in such a straightforward way that you could probably put this sucker together blindfolded.

We have seen some other inspired photography turntables on Hackaday before. [NotionSunday] created a true turntable hack based off of the eject mechanism of an old DVD-ROM drive. With the whole thing spinning on the head assembly of a VCR, this is the epitome of letting nothing go to waste. We also displayed another very similar Arduino Uno controlled turntable created 2 years ago by [Tiffany Tseng]. There is even a non-electronic version out there of a DIY 360° photography turntable that only uses a lazy susan and tape measure. All of these photography turntable hacks do the job wonderfully, but there was something that we liked about the clean feel of this one. All of the necessary code for this project has been provided over at GitHub. What is your favorite photography turntable?


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, digital cameras hacks


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