A positive thing with being on vacation is that you have more spare time than usual. A negative thing with being on vacation is that you are far away from your lab and tools. Luckily, creativity is not confined to any particular place and there is always something that you can use to build something. During one of my spare time moments, my eyes fell on an egg timer, and I remembered seeing someone using an egg timer to make a time lapse panning rig. This seemed like the perfect vacation project! Two plastic bottles, a board, a screw, a few minutes work and the time lapse rig was finished.
How to build it
- An Oval egg timer
- A plastic bottle
- A knife and a pair of scissors
- A piece of string
- A marker pen
- An iPhone with the app iMotion or any other time lapse app.
Optional, for a make shift camera support.
- Another bottle
- A board
- A screw
Step 1, fitting the bottle on the egg timer.
Use the string to find the circumference of the egg timer by wrapping it around the the egg timer and cutting it so the ends of the string meets. Now wrap the string around the neck of the bottle and mark the spot to cut, then cut the bottle’s neck at the mark. You might have to use the scissors to trim the size a bit to make it fit snuggly on top of the egg timer.
Step 2, cutout to fit the phone.
Cut the bottom of the bottle. Place your phone on its long side in the center of the bottle, then mark the thickness of the phone. Next, use your phone to mark its breadth to know how far to cut. Once you have made the marks, use the scissors to cut the bottle to the right shape.
Step 3, Setting up the shot
Launch the iMotion app and set the timer to take at least one picture every 2nd second. If you use less frequent shots the footage will be a bit choppy and not the fluid motion we want. On the 360 degrees shot at 1:09 in the video I set iMotion up to take one picture every third second and that turned out a little choppy. Wind up the egg timer and place the phone in the bottle, start the iMotion and wait.
Step 4, Optional, the camera support board.
I quickly realized that you often want to tilt the camera a bit, or that the wind knocked the camera over. To remedy this, I built a camera support. The camera support is just a piece of board with the bottom of a bottle screwed on to it. The bottle was cut to fit the bottom of the egg timer. This makes it more easy to place the rig on an uneven surface or to tilt it to take a shot at an angle.
When I first saw this instructable by Yoshinok on how to make a microscope using a lens from an old laser pointer, I knew that I had to build one. The first attempt turned out pretty well, but I did learn some things from the build.
If I was to build another one, I would make sure that I positioned the lens between the two threaded rods that holds the sample tray, rather than towards the edge of the plexiglass. The only structural support the sample tray has are the two wing-nuts that is used to adjust the focus with. This makes it sensitive to weight distribution and if the sample it self is heavy, then the sample tray will tilt outwards due to the skewed weight distribution. It´s hard to find focus when the tray is tilted. This weight distribution problem could perhaps be improved with some washers on top of the wing nuts and in the original instructable Yoshinok uses washes on top of the wing nuts. I would also have made the plexiglas the phone is placed on slightly bigger to allow for different positions of the phone.
The second thing I found was that the nuts I used to hold the plexiglas the phone is placed on, are too thick. The laser lens has a very short focal length, so the sample has to be very close to the lens to get a clear focus. If the sample is small and flat, it will still be out of focus even if the sample support tray is raised as high as it goes before it is stopped by the nuts. I solved this by using a plastic lid that I had laying around, which fit between the supports to raise the sample of the sample tray so that it could be put into focus. I used M8 size rod and nuts but I would say that M6 would be enough and those nuts are much thinner.
It is a very fun and useful little thing and it is very simple both to build and to use.
The First fly
Coin and rollerball pentip
Screen comparison between Sony Xperia ZR and iPhone 5. Max magnification of a white area.
The second fly
Yesterday I received some EL-wire I had ordered. If you don’t know what EL-wire is it is a plastic coated flexible wire about 1 mm thick that glows with a neon glow and runs of a small battery pack. I have not figured out what to use it for but I was curious about it and decided to get some and figure out what to do with it later. I took some nice long exposure photos of it to start with.
Almost all digital cameras are sensitive to both visible light and infrared light. To prevent images to be contaminated with IR-light camera makers install an infrared blocking filter in front of the sensor in their cameras. The filter blocks out almost all IR-light but since it doesn’t filter out 100% of the IR light it is possible IR photographs with a normal digital camera. This is done by using another filter that blocks out as much visible light as possible but lets IR-light through and then shooting with long exposure time to let enough IR light though to go through the IR-blocking filter and be registered by the cameras sensor. The IR-images looks almost like a black and white shots and often has a ghostly feel to them. Since I like to experiment with what I have I decided to build my own IR filter using the magic substance Sugru (like play-dough that sets and becomes rubber in 24 hours) and some old film and I got some decent results I think.
Making the IR-filter
I started by making a frame for the filter that would fit on the camera lens of my Panasonic Lumix LX-3. This camera normally has no filter threads so I molded the frame with Sugru and let it set over night.
The material that make up the actual filter is old celluloid film that has been exposed to light and developed. The end bits of old rolls usually become exposed to light when you insert it in the camera. To block enough light is it not enough with just one layer, I used three layers.
After stacking the sheets of celluloid on top of each other I fixated them in place by applying some more Sugru, I also improved the fit of the filter on the camera lens with some more sugru on the camera side of the filter frame.
To prevent the Sugru from sticking to the camera lens during the fitting of the filter I used some wrap to create a barrier between them, I removed the wrap after I had finished fitting the filter to prevent the Sugru from sticking to it while setting.
The finished product does its job as can be seen on the spectrum photo below. It is by far not as good as a commercial IR filter but it is good enough to play around with and it is practically free. A big disadvantage with using celluloid as filter is that is is sensitive to moisture, at least one side of it is. I now have some permanent water drops engraved in my filter after dropping it in the snow, learning by doing.