High-speed Photography with Arduino and CHDK

Picture of High-speed Photography with Arduino and CHDK
This project uses an Arduino microcontroller and a laser break-beam trigger to fire via USB remote a Canon camera modified with CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) firmware.

Immediate influences are the high-speed flash photography triggered by sound or light project by Glacial Wanderer and the Laser Triggered High-Speed Photography instructable by Saskview. The first uses a laser break-beam and an Arduino to trigger a flash in a dark room and capture action while the second uses two 555 timer ICs to generate a signal to trigger the camera. The second method does not require a dark room.

The approach described here requires a Canon camera modified with CHDK, uses the Arduino to do the electronic heavy lifting, and does not require a dark room. My intention was to keep things relatively easy -- no etching circuit boards, no cramming stuff in to small spaces &c. That said, there is some careful soldering and fabrication required but nothing beyond that.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Blah Blah Blah

This step is here because the first step seems to appear below the Introduction. I don't understand why and I don't think it is a good idea.
ynze3 years ago
This i'ble got featured in this month's Wired magazine! Pretty cool!
LinemenOwn3 years ago
A Schematic would be very useful for this, so you could get a quick idea how it works without looking through every connection. It looks like a really neat project i would like to try if i get the time.
matthewpoage (author)  LinemenOwn3 years ago
That is a great suggestion. I added a step that has a PNG image and the EAGLE file of the schematic attached. I believe that the schematic is correct, but I have not put it to the test by laying out and testing a board.
Very nice! I did this same project about 30 years ago with a mechanical shutter and a 555 timer chip. Do you know what the delay is between the moment tripping the laser and the photograph being taken? That's where I think digital cameras are usually pretty slow.
maxovitsj3 years ago
Just a small note:

The 'light-sensitive resistor' is actually called a LDR: Light Dependent Resistor.
or photoresistor :)

Good instructable :)
Well done!

I should point out that for a while I had used a photo-resistor as the optical sensor in my 'ible, but found it to have a slow response, and may not trigger on fast moving drops.

I switched to a photo-diode (visible or IR should work with a red laser) which is MUCH bettor. It's super-fast, and can even be triggered by projectiles.

Keep this in mind if you find that the drops are moving too fast to be triggered.

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!