29 October 2009

Smashing Pumpkins

Combine hobby electronics, photography and fruit and vegetables dropped from a second floor balcony, what do you get?

My brother does fun stuff with cameras for a living - see www.seesawphoto.com.au - but we decided to combine his photography skills and equipment and some gear from Sparkfun and the PicPack library to see if we couldn't smash a few things up.

What could be more fun than smashing eggs, watermelons and pumpkins all in the name of a good photo?

The trick of course is to capture the image just at the right moment. We rigged up a microphone to a Pic demo board (which rather nicely has buttons, an LCD display, and a relay to trigger the flash. We grabbed a wired connection to a camera-mounted flash - wired that to the relay output from the board and then used that to trigger Paul's top knotch professional studio flash gear. The microphone was wired to the analogue input and sampled as quickly as the Pic could manage it.

Knocking together the Pic application didn't take long with the library functions. The buttons allowed a configurable delay in milliseconds between hearing sound and triggering the flash, and sound sensitivity. Of course some experimentation was required here - more things to smash! In the end we built an audible delay in so that we had a chance to "arm" the system, then get out of the way before the pumpkins came down.

I think you'll agree the photos are pretty fun. Source code will be published in the next drop of PicPack.