Sunday, 30 November 2008

Gadget Corner

For ages I've been meaning to modify a cheap digital camera into a time lapse camera - I'd even bought the camera, and a timer board, but just because I can build something doesn't mean I ever actually get around it - and now I don't have to, because someone's made one, at a reasonable price, too (I've seen digital cameras with a time lapse function hidden away, admittedly, but this is purpose-made for the job).

For £40, Maplin are selling a 2"x3" box that records a 1.3Mb picture repeatedly after a set interval. It records to SD card; the settings can not be changed on the until but are recorded on a data file on the card by the [PC only] set up software; however the results are recorded to an AVI file and can be viewed on any computer with a card reader. This really is quite exciting; it's designed for car use (and comes with a 12v power supply in a cigarette lighter plug), supplied with a couple of different holders, one of which has a standard 1/4" whitworth tripod thread on it - I have a g-clamp that has this thread on it, so a good start (although I'd like to build it into a non-descript and weatherproof box that can be solidly fixed to the boat, really.

This of course will allow the user to make time-lapse canal videos very easily - I wish I'd found this in July & August. I know these already exist on youtube by other people, but this would be my journey, memories, lock delays and mooring stops.

Images captured are 1280x1024 (a strange 5:4 aspect ratio), it's a basic CMOS sensor so not great quality, but that doesn't matter much, I don't think. It works. The still above is from playing with it on Alnwick this morning, as I hitched a lift from Thrupp to Heyford after a quite marvellous boaters banter (thanks Bones for the event & the sofa, Graham & Jane for the ride on Alnwick, and everyone else for company & putting up with my drunken rantings). I need to do a bit of research on programs to edit & resize/crop the output videos, but I think this gadget's going to be fun.

(Maplin are also doing a 12v (takes 3A, not too bad if just on for half an hour to warm the bed) electric blanket for a tenner - certainly tempting this time of year.)

Also discussed was my dubious pedal powered sound system, (the website includes info on how to build a 50w 12v battery charger that will run from a bike) and 12v guitar amps from Germany (albeit made in China, inevitably):

£23 for 'CG-5 street' basic mains & AA battery model

£23 for 'CG-15' a louder one with the same EQ board but no battery option

£47 for 'CG10x street' a swisher one with chorus & delay,

CG-10x - cheaper (£30) version with the same effects but no battery option)

I bought the last option, and modified it myself (putting the preamp in a bigger box with bigger amp & speaker). The battery option is just a battery compartment for 10 AA batteries - although converting this for a 12v input connector would be quicker and easier than with the mains only version, it didn't seem worth the extra money. ;-)

(for £80 they do a 30w 2-channel amp with built in 12v battery - a copy of the Crate busking amp at a third of the price.)

Ooh, and a few people admired my Moo cards, link included for completeness.


Carrie said...

Thanks for the virtual hug, Simon x
Now if Maplins stocked a Hug-O-matic, I'd pay good money for that!
By the way, did your Small Stawbale book arrive? And did you like? I've got a snail-shell design in my head for a part-indoor/part-outdoor community meeting space I'd love to build from stawbales. Ho hum...

Maffi said...

That picture is quite good is that me on the bank?

Simon said...

Carrie - I did, and liked it so much I bought another as a present... ;-)

(maplins do do a heated gilet, which is as good as it would get...)

Maffi - indeed it is you, although you don't get to claim a £5 prize... I shoudl have uploaded the picture full size - not fantastic quality, but having pictures taken automatically anyway will be great...

PAV said...

Hi Simon, Thanks for your comment regards our mysterious power drain. Appreciate your offer of help. We have a chap calling next week to investigate and hope he sorts it out.....We haven't a clue what we are looking at or for! Hope you are well.
Best Wishes, Pav.

Halfie said...

Simon, how are you getting on with the timelapse camera? I've been thinking of getting one myself: it sounds a lot easier than my current method of doing it on a video camera (not that I've filmed canal timelapse since 2005 - because of the difficulty!)