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phil

camera trigger for lighting pictures

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EDIT: nevermind I got it all figured out and all the parts ordered.

 

 

 

I am wanting to build this camera trigger I found to try and get some pics of lightning. ---> LINK <--- I understand what I am ordering with all the parts but the capacitors. I'm really confused as to what types I need and how to get them in the values I need. I've spent hours on the digikey website and all I got was more confused. Can anybody help me out and tell me what ones I need?

 

lightningR1.jpg

Edited by phil

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I've got the parts and a camera to use but I've never got around to putting it all together. I wish I would have cause we've had some heavy storms come thru in the past few weeks.

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One other method for lightning - you can make or buy a remote shutter trigger for an SLR. Then you just hold down the shutter button until you see a flash, release it, and you will have the entire lightning bolt.

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I finally got around to getting the circuit together and tested tonight. So far so good. Now all I need to do is hack the camera and wait around for some lightning.

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Looking forward to seeing how this works. I tried the other way, lightning in the distance made the sky all lit up like daytime while I wait for the right one.

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I'm still trying to get all the bugs worked out but I got it all hooked up, camera and all, and tested over the last few days. It works great in a dark room with a flashlight. Everything was looking good until the popup thunder storm this afternoon. The circuit seems to be too sensitive for daytime use or maybe I have the opening for the photo darlington to look out too big. It did a lot of false triggers without the transistor looking out the view finder. This might not be a problem if you are using a fast digital (I'm not even sure a digital would be fast enough) but with a film camera this is a problem. I'm glad I didn't put a roll of film in it to test. After the storm passed I put the transistor in a homemade assembly and attached it to the viewfinder. The false triggers didn't completely go away but they did get a lot less frequent.

 

I could use any suggestions you guys might have as to what could be done to make it a little less sensitive to daylight.

 

Also another thing to note incase you don't like reading all the information like me. The circuit doesn't like any kind of indoor lighting, flourescent or incandescent. The light will make it cycle on and off repeatedly.

Edited by phil

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Both flourescent and incandescent lights give it fits. I know why flourescent lights do but the incandescents I'm not so sure. My guess is it sees the 60 cycle stobe of the AC. Pure DC light sources don't bother it.

 

I'm using a 35mm camera not a digital because I don't think a digital camera will shutter a picture quick enough. The camera I'm using is an old point and shoot 35mm I had laying around with a rough shutter time (using a stopwatch several times) of under 1 second. I'm not sure if this is quick enough or not but I don't know how much quicker it could possibly be.

 

From what I've read about the circuit with a fast 35mm and slow speed film it has about a 50% success rate. You are counting on getting pictures of the return strikes of lightning not the inital strike so no return strikes mean no lightning pictures unless you get lucky.

 

Now here is where I show my ignorance of all things electronic. I was thinking that a transisitor or opto controlling the shutter instead of a relay would do away with a little more lag time. I'm not sure why he chose a relay to control the shutter, it has to take more time to close a mechanical contact than it does an electronic one.

 

I think I have it all worked out now so the next storm that comes thru will tell if I get any pictures of lightning or just dark sky.

Edited by phil

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If you wire the half shutter press to stay on and wire the lightning trigger to the full press, you will get FAST shutter times.

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Thanks I allready figured that part out. Shutter times this way are FAST, well under a second. The problem with this is if you just jumper out the half press on my camera the film won't advance after a picture is shuttered. I was going to connect a 555 set up as a one shot so that it would open the half press after a picture was taken long enough for the film to advance but I'm not sure if I can connect the output of the 4047 to the trigger of the 555. I'd like to have it set up this way with an on off switch controlling this part of the circuit incase I don't need it with another camera. But since I'm not sure if I can or not I'm thinking I might just connect the 555 separetly in astable mode so that it opens the half press momentarily every five seconds or so to let the film advance.

 

I'll probably just try it out without the half press connected first and see what happens. If it doesn't work out then I'll figure out how I'm going to deal with it.

 

There's my random ramblings for the day.

Edited by phil

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A daytime storm came thru a few minutes ago so I got all set up and had a go at some lightning pics. I tried it both ways, without the half shutter press and with it. I gotta say I think the half shutter press is going to be the way to go. For now I have two leads coming out of the connector I touch togeter and then release after a picture. Out of one 27 exposure roll of film I think I got maybe three good pictures but I was also moving the setup and tweeking different things most of the time. The movement and hands casting shadows over the view finder cause some pictures of nothing to be taken. I'm gonna try and get the roll developed tonight and I'll post any good pictures I might have.

 

I still think the trigger is too sensitive but after some tweeking of the position of the sensor I almost have it where I'd like it. At night I think you will get alot of pictures of a lit up sky from lightning in the distance. These pictures could be cool too, I've seen some pretty neat colors in the night sky from lightning strikes. Basically I think you don't want the whole sensor face exposed, only a small portion. I cut the hole for the sensor to see out of the same size as the sensor. Now I think that was a bad idea so I moved the sensor housing up alittle on the view finder so that only the bottom half or less of the sensor could see out of the viewfinder. This made it less sensitive to distant strikes but not completley. It would still trigger on some distant strikes where the change in light level was barely visible to me.

 

Here's some pictures of my setup so far:

 

 

P7130126__Medium_.JPG

P7130128__Medium_.JPG

P7130129__Medium_.JPG

P7130133__Medium_.JPG

Edited by phil

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Out of the 27 exposures I was expecting 3 pics but I got none. I do have 2 out of 3 of those pics that are brighter than the rest . I guess the lightning was just out of the frame. I was setup in front of my house which doesn't let you see alot of the sky. Next time I'll set up on a hill top so that I have a much better field of view.

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I'm just thinking of t-storms I've watched recently.

Usually when there was a lightning strike (even in the day), much of the sky would flash brighter all around.

This would happen even when no actual 'bolt' of lightning was seen.

I wonder if this might be enough to trigger your setup, reulting in false pics?

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That's what I'm thinking too. I setup the camera during a distant storm, paid attention to the sky, and most of the false triggers were caused by barely noticeable chages in sky brightness followed a few seconds later by distant thunder.

 

The trigger is just really sensitive to slight, rapid changes in light levels.

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