Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Photoduino variation

Well, I'm sure someone has heard of the Photoduino. A DIY controller for cameras and flash units based around the Arduino.

The Photoduino has a bunch of sensors such as audio, light, pressure and can control various devices such a camera, flash units, laser, LED, solenoid and whatever you can plug in to it.
I  built mine based on the photoduino website and made a few changes, mostly software. The biggest difference is the screen, wich originaly is a small LCD with a parallel interface. I had this lovely VFD display lying around and it ended up in the project.

Now the VFD is a serial device so that meant changing the code and making the software play nice with it. While doing so I decide to do some modifications with the buttons, menus, configurations, multiple languadge support, volume control, extra control ports and provably other minor changes.
The software is based on version 9 and hence the ALT meaning alternative version.

A small mishap (or rather, a string of bad luck) meant burning:
2 Atmega328
1 Atmega8u2
1 USB to serial adapter
1 Disconfigured VFD
If you include the eBay shenanigans, other things breaking, burnt fingers, having to travel 200km for parts and forget something then you could say it was a pretty depressing week!

I never really figured out what killed the Arduinos. The VFD used to share the serial TX from the Arduino so when I programmed the sketch I had to remember to turn the display off or garbage would be displayed on the device. But worse than garbage is changing the configuration parameters of the VFD and it's subsequent lack of functionality, hence the 200km trip to pick up the original VFD wires, install a virtual windows XP (the software only works on XP or previous), setting the configuration and getting everything back up and running.
During this proces the USB adapter and Arduinos died. All 5V TTL signals, current limiting resistor on the serial lines, working in a ESD safe area, verifying the dead microcontrollers with AVRDude, all grounds connected... No idea of what happened.

The photoduino now runs on a damaged arduino with a dead Atmega8u2 programmed via ICSP and the VFD runs on a sofware serial pin with an apropiate current limiting resistor (even the atmega8u2 had resistors on the serial lines and died)

I finally got around to labelling the conectors, a great improvement in functionality! Well... more like less wasting time guessing which conector does what.
Another change is an extra IO used exclusively for IR remote control of the camera.

The cheapest enclosure I found is a storage box from a hardware store. Such a waste of space...

Actually it doubles as a container for the sensors, cables and power supply!

Did I mention L.A.S.E.R.? Everything is better with mighty lasers!

Oh, yeah! And a sample shot that left me with a very oily kitchen and popcorn everywhere!

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