Introduction: Time-Lapse Photography

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

Hacking an old digital camera to take time-lapse picture sequences is fun and easy. All you need is some basic electronics skills and a little bit of patience.

I am using an Arduino (Atmel168 development board) as the time-lapse controller, but you can use any micro controller.

This was originally made for Day 5 of Thing A Day.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff.

You will need:

1 - digital camera
1 - small 2-pin socket
1 - 5V relay
1 - Arduino (or other micro controller)

(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)

Step 2: Open the Case.

Carefully open the case. Be sure not to break or unplug anything.

Step 3: Press My Buttons

Locate the button you press to take a picture. Notice the little metal tabs to each side of it. Begin connecting these tabs with a short piece of wire until you take a picture.

Step 4: Socket to Me.

Once you determine which two pins will take a picture when connected, connect a wire to each pin. Then connect these two wires to your socket. It is important to leave enough wire so that your socket can reach to the edge of the case.

Make sure when placing your socket that you have enough room for both the case to close and to rip a hole in the side of the case to poke the socket through.

Step 5: I'm Sticking With You

Carefully glue the socket in place. Make sure not to glue down anything that should not be. Also, don't get glue in the socket.

Step 6: Close the Case.

Yes, close the case. If you have done everything right it should close and you should still be able to get to your socket to plug wires into them.

Step 7: Relay

Take your relay and solder wires to each pin. The color doesn't matter too much.

Step 8: Plug and Play

Now is the time to plug it all in.

Plug the relay coil pins to Pin 7 of the Arduino and ground on the Arduino. The relay coil pins are the two pins that aren't towards the ends of the tube.

The two pins towards the end of the long tube go into the socket pins in the camera. It does not matter which wire goes in which socket pin.

Step 9: Programming

Now is time to program the Arduino and test your setup.

Follows is my code:

/* Time-Lapse Camera Controller

  • ------------------


  • Hits a camera shutter at a set interval
  • for time-lapse photography. The rate of the
  • delay can be manipulated for unique effects.



int camPin = 7; // sets the camera shutter pin
int stupidvar = 30000; // sets the delay between pictures

void setup()
pinMode(camPin, OUTPUT); // defines pin as an output

void loop()
digitalWrite(camPin, HIGH); // presses the button
delay(5000); // waits
digitalWrite(camPin, LOW); // release the button
delay(stupidvar); // delay between pictures

// stupidvar = stupidvar + 1000 // increments delay by one second for unique effect.


Step 10: Try It Out

Take a couple of pictures in sequence and see that it works.

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