Instructables
Picture of Intervalometer

I decided to make a quality DIY intervalometer for my DSLR Pentax camera so that I could do time-lapse photography. This intervalometer should work with most major brands of DSLR cameras such as Nikons and Canons. It works by triggering the shutter using the camera's remote trigger port. It can also auto-focus before each shot if so desired (or toggle this on or off at any time). The brains of this intervalometer is an Arduino chip. It may seem very complicated at first glance, but is actually a simple circuit and not that hard to make.

 
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Step 1: Go get stuff

Picture of Go get stuff

You will need:

(x1) Small wood box
(x1) 1/8" acrylic panel (see next step)
(x1) black acrylic paint and brush
(x1) Arduino
(x1) perfboard
(x1) 1K resistor
(x1) 100 ohm resistor
(x1) LM7805 5V regulator
(x1) 2-color LED
(x1) 16MHz crystal
(x2) 22pf capacitors
(x1) 10K potentiometer
(x1) 28 pin socket
(x1) DPDT toggle switch
(x1) SPST push-button switch
(x1) M-type socket
(x2) SPST 5V reed relays
(x1) shielded stereo cable
(x1) 3/32" (2.5mm) male plug
(x1) 6VDC power adapter with M-type plug
(x1) knob
(x1) toggle switch cover (optional)
(x4) 1" wood screws
(x1) red, black and green wire
(x1) soldering setup
(x1) multimeter
(x1) drill press (or hand drill) and misc. tools.

astroboy9073 years ago
Hey- Heres an EagleCAD version of your schematic. Im not sure i have all my pot pins mapped correctly, and i used inductor symbols for the relay coils. I couldnt really tell where to connect the toggle, but here it is anyway... I hope it loads through attach images....
trying to upload again...
randofo (author)  astroboy9073 years ago
This is great! Thanks for sharing this!
is there a way you could modify the circuit to increase the interval time? I've been trying to find a schematic that will go over 5+ minutes...
randofo (author)  humorless3491 year ago
Yes, you can do it in code. You can program it to trigger whenever you want. 5 minutes... 5 hours... 5 days...
astroboy9072 years ago
Hey Randofo- recently became interested in this project again. I'm trying to make a wireless remote for my FZ100 camera. I found some schematics for the remote- so thats not a problem. But I'm trying to fit it all into a 3x2x1" radioshack box. Could I use transistors rather than relays to save a bit of space? I have to fit the 9v battery, arduino (perfboarded), receiver, and camera resistors to the project- so using some 2904s would work really nice.

Also- do you think it is alright if I have the intervalometer combined into the receiver? Or should I just have an AUX input for it?

Many thanks- hope to enter my completed creation/guide into next weeks wireless contest :)
-Astroboy907
I just recently built a similar intervalometer based on a 555 for my Olympus E510 and I have successfully replaced the relay with a 2n2222 (or similar) transistor. I'm no electronics expert, but everything looks ok voltage wise and I haven't cooked anything in my camera yet.
I found some relays (eventually... my Electronics teacher had some) NAW5-K (i *think*) relays- they are about the size of three 3904 transistors back to back and run on 5v, so I was really happy with the size and they perform really well :)
astroboy9072 years ago
I think by relay, you mean potentiometer? :)
This is beautiful!! I've made a nearly identical circuit, with Arduino, potentiometer, relays...
At the end I've permanently removed the focus (I should never use it) and I've replaced it with the option to use a photoresistor wich interrupt the cycle in the night.
I used a logarithmic potentiometer so to choose with the same precision the small intervals and the bigger one. So my scale go approximately from 6 sec, through 15, 30, 60, 120 sec. Anyway a digital scale (also discrete) should work better, so my next project should be with a push-button and maybe a display or some leds to show the value.
Ciao :-)
randofo (author)  andrea biffi3 years ago
I considered using a log pot, but in the end decided it would be easier to use the linear pot.

I currently let it focus for one picture, but then turn it off. In retrospect, I probably should just set it all up myself in advance. Maybe it will be useful for something sooner or later...?

You are probably right about the digital delay :-)
Since it's all controlled by an arduino anyway, couldn't you just take the log of the input from the linear pot in software? That seems like a better solution anyway - less soldering if you want to change the behavior :)
randofo (author)  hardwarehank3 years ago
This is true. Will keep in mind for possible future version.
great! here is the first time-lapse I've made with my circuit (and an old Panasonic FZ20) http://vimeo.com/17430724
Remember that the mirror in SLRs is damaged after a lot of shots, usually 100.000 I remember, you reach that in a week with 10 shots per minute..
bye!
Most good quality SLR's have a mirror 'lock up' capability. ..which also makes it much more quiet.
Oh, it's right, I've completely forgot that... I've to try with my 40D. Thanks!
Goodhart3 years ago
I have GOT to get on board one of these days with my own Arduino and a decent book on the subject (for a noob like me as I'm used to building stuff like this with timers /555-556/, sequencial counters, flipflops, logic gates, etc.) A lot of wiring, a lot of room for mistakes.
Take a look at Nerdkits.com. I've been using them for two years - very happy. I've learned to program Atmega chips and built some nice projects.
Looks nice...I will have to look at it closer when I "get home" :-)
I came the same route as you - gobs of individual ICs wired together, with my bibles "TTL Cookbook" and "CMOS Cookbook" dangling off the edge of the desk. Voltage regulators running so hot that they would burn the skin (even with the big heat sinks). I took a microcontroller course 10 years ago, but never used it.
Two years ago I stumbled onto Nerdkits - a couple of MIT grads put the company together. For around $80 they will send you a serious Atmega microcontroller, programming environment for Mac and PC, USB cable, breadboard, 4-line LCD display, temperature sensor, speaker, switches, wire, leds and a CD full of theory and excellent example programs.
You will have to learn C language, but that's not so bad (I come from FORTRAN, PL1, BASIC, PASCAL, and assembly - C is better). You will also have to learn the logic of bitwise manipulation, so that you can change one bit of a byte-wide port - pretty easy once you grasp it.
What you get for your money is a complete, stand-alone industrial microcontroller with it's programming environment, plus lots of examples of how to put it to use.
Nerdkits site has continuous forums on anything you could want, with real newbies asking, and getting answers to all of their problems. The two owners of the site also respond in the forums, and even respond to email questions (I don't know how they handle the volume - but they do, quickly and with friendly help).
I've built several real-time clocks with different displays. One is a "one digit clock" - it uses one 7-segment LED to tell the time: at 2:35 it flashes the "2", then the "3" then the "5". Under the display is four regular leds - each one lights to let you know what number you're looking at: the 2nd one lights when "2" is displayed, the 3rd one lights when the "3" is displayed, etc. I love this project - I had to learn how to tell time with the microcontroller, and found that it wasn't accurate. Then I bought a second Real Time Clock chip with it's own crystal and battery backup, and had to learn how to interface that with the MCU using the MCU's serial port. (It has several - different modes, several analog-to-digital converters, etc, etc, etc). My other hobby is woodworking, so I built really nice cases for the clocks using spalted and curly woods. My parents and girlfriend each have one and love them. Of course, I don't have one for myself (of course), but I'm building another one very soon, using a larger, 2-1/2" LED, which, of course, needs higher voltage than the regular LED (which the MCU can drive itself) so now I'll have to learn how to switch higher voltages (8 volts) using transistors triggerd by the MCU's 5v outputs. It's been a wonderful learning experience.
Sorry for waffling on so much, but I think you owe it to yourself to buy a kit from Nerdkits - you'll curse me when you're learning the ins and outs (the included datasheet for the MCU is about 400 pages of fine print), but you'll thank me forever after you get over the learning curve. Their examples will have you up and running your first successful project within an hour - a digital thermometer that displays temperature on the LCD and on your computer's serial port. You'll thank me. Go buy a Nerdkit- no doubt about it. (No, I am not affiliated with the company - just a fumbling hacker who lucked onto their site.)
It sounds intriguing, but the $80 price tag will delay me for a bit. Probably a few months at the very least. :-)
Beekeeper3 years ago
This is very interesting and regretably electronically beyond my abilities. Recently there was a mechanical Instructable which I could probably manage, but my question is, how does one convert a series of still images to a video? I hope someone can tell me.
I use a program called JPG Video: http://www.ndrw.co.uk/free/jpgvideo/index.html

You could always use a program designed for stop motion, since there's quite a few out there for free.
Thanks for this very useful tip. It is this helpful exchange of information with no profit motivation that enriches our lives and makes Instructables so nice. David
theres a boatload of software for PCs. for mac ive had good results with time lapse assembler :)
there might even be a pc version...
do a google search for time lapse software, there are many free programs to create video from all your still images.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a Mac, simply open QuickTime Player 7, and choose "File --> Open Image Sequence..." and it will open all the still images in the folder you select and turn them into a movie.

Here's a sample from my Olympus OM-20, which had a built-in intervalometer that I sorely miss.

(It's a 142MB download. Be patient.)
Thanks for the suggestion but firstly I don't have a Mac and secondly my internet connection is very slow - certainly too slow for 142 MB. Another suggestion from another helpful instructable-er is to use a free download program http://www.ndrw.co.uk/free/jpgvideo/index.html. bfn, David
RedHotLama3 years ago
The files are showing up as tmp files. Doesn't seem right as they should be sch or brd files. What way do i open them
randofo (author)  RedHotLama3 years ago
If it is doing that, just rename them to the file name shown here once they are downloaded.
also be noted that the parts are not to scale or are just fakes... youre not going to get anywhere making an actual board off this without updating parts and/or making your own part libraries. I just finished my own version and added some different code and a pushbutton. The codes a bit buggy though so any help with it would be appreciated. Feel free to use this code (i did update it so it would work on an actual board, not the hackduino used in the actual project). I got it to run 10-60 seconds and an alternate 1-6 min mode. Thanks! Great project :)
VadimS3 years ago
Nice, a 555 timer would have done the trick as well.
Just wondering why you had it start at 10 seconds, I found 4 to be good for clouds and other relatively fast moving objects?
databoy VadimS3 years ago
A standard 555 timer is not a good substitute. Standard 555 timer chips have start up delay inaccuracies. The issue is well documented. There are a number of manufacturers that make a cmos version specifically for critical timing applications. Depending where you live they can be hard to obtain and expensive.
VadimS databoy3 years ago
I'm aware of the inaccuracy, but for this that would be of no consequence.
An Arduino is easier but more expensive.
randofo (author)  VadimS3 years ago
The Arduino was simpler with the auto-focus and required fewer external parts.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I figured that I probably wouldn't want to shoot anything faster than that.
mickeypop3 years ago
Nice idea.

Just a quick easier trick for the decal. Anyone that etches their own printed circuit boards should know this.

- Just print it in reverse on Bubble jet photo paper but on a laser printer.
- Place on the backing and iron on with an old clothes iron.
- Let cool.
- Soak in hot water for about 10 minutes till cooled down.
- While still wet paper will just about slide off. Rub slightly for remaining paper.

Presto label applied and ready
darkmf6663 years ago
@randofo
you might instead use a saw for the frontplate.
and use a piece of pcb instead of acryllic-glass.
in that case you could print the layout and etch it on the pcb.
this is eassier to do at home. you only need some sodium hydroxide, hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid. and prefereble an laserprinter for the print. dont forget to use parchment paper(im not shure this is the right translation for what i mean. i am refering to a kind of paper wich is fat-proof. a litteral translation would be fat-free paper.) instead of normal paper.
he MIGHT have done a lot of different things, but the average person CAN'T do their own circuit etching, as they have not the know how... AND while it is easy... MOST don't feel comfortable with the overly technical things...

I can say, in response to this kind of comment... go make your own and do it that way...

Heck... he COULD have just bought one
Jakeg3 years ago
Beautiful job! I like it... It looks professional and It's a good addition to anyone's camera bag... 5 stars!
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