High Speed Photography Help!

Hello everyone!

this is my first post so im pretty excited haha.

i want to know how to create something so i can shoot high speed photography.

an example of what i would like to do is of a water droplet hitting a bowl of water and snapping a picture when the "crown" (part of the water which gets drawn up from the result of disrupting the water bowl".

i was thinking about a laser activated "flash" which fires the flash of the camera after the beam is broken, but it should have a delay so i can fine tune it and get the perfect image.

or a sound activated flash, same concept but instead of a laser have it sound activated.

so far i found these two articles:



the problem is i dont know how to program, or what the code is for the "Picture Axe" (second link)

and i dont know if i need a code for the first one (dancing Droplets)


all in all i am COMPLETELY lost and need a great deal of help.


thanks in advance


If you check those two posts

If you check those two posts more carefully, you’ll see that Geir attached the code for his two Picaxe microcontrollers in text files.

yea but what do i do with

yea but what do i do with the code? like how do i upload them to the microcontrollers

Back up.

Both of these projects use microcontrollers (robot brains). These microchips have inputs that will need to be connected to things and outputs that will need to be connected to things --and connected in very specific ways. The microcontroller chip is then programmed with the code. However, it is not this simple. The code is not going to work out-of-the-box for either project. There are numbers you will have to change and add within the code. Sensors will have to be tested and more changes made. You will need a good understanding of how to write picaxe basic before you could build and code a project like this. Not to mention an ability to build circuits from a schematic.

Instead I would suggest the “Start Here” robot at the top of the page.

thanks chris the

thanks chris the carpenter.


but how do i upload them to the board? via USB cable and by what software?

The first project I ever did

The first project I ever did on a micro controller (after making the Arduino LED blink) was a trigging system for high speed photography. Maybe I should write up a post on that?
I’m using a laser pen pointing at a phototransistor. When the drop of water trip’s the laser an interrupt is sent to the Arduino and I can use an offset before the flash fires. It’s a great system and you can take the same shot over and over again.
Here is a picture from the breadboard setup


Ps. This could probably be made much simpler with a PICAXE instead of an Arduino, but back then I had never heard of PICAXE.

Upload method depends on the

Upload method depends on the chip you use. A raw chip can be programmed through its serial port, ICSP pins or by JTAG method. This then connects to either your computer serial or USB port. If you choose a blank chip how you program it is up to you, but if you buy a development board it usually has a programming cable. Programming software depends on the language you want to use.

For example the Arduino board is programmed with a USB cable from the software downloaded on its website.

I`m sorry if I sound rude, but you have obviously done no research into this at all. Did you want to simply skip to the finished product? If so maybe Geil will sell you his project. If you would rather learn something from it you will need to do a little thinking and a lot of research of your own. To start, choose picaxe or avr then google from there. That will lead you to companies selling development boards then on to programming cables, programming software, programming languages, example programs etc.

I do agree with ezekiel181

I do agree with ezekiel181 here. If you’re just want the product there are commercial products available to buy of the shelf like this http://www.universaltimer.com/home.html
But if you want to learn about electronics and microcontrollers you might want to start slow and build on that.

But believe me, it is a special satisfaction of building something from scratch and making it work.

ok, thanks for the tip

ok, thanks for the tip ezekiel181 but that link you sent me for the timer costs 165 dollars, which is way to much. I am currently a college student and dont have that kind of cash. i have programmed in C++ so im not completely clueless i just havent had a great background in C++, and plus the arduino/laser pointer way of creating photographs is way cooler than just a plug and play device, not to mention a lot cheaper!

so yea  i would appreciate it if Geir uploads his tutorial on his First arduino board with the laser beam because that would help me SO much.


thanks guys


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**C++ isnt suitable for small**<br><p>C++ isnt suitable for small microcontrollers but C works just fine. Most brands of micro have a free C compiler you can download and if you`ve done some C++ at least you will understand C syntax. Arduino uses a simplified C language and you can buy one for about $30 USD.

99% of the projects on this site are work logs or brag books not tutorials.

i have Visual Studio so i

i have Visual Studio so i think that will work.

yea but if im sure if i ask the person who wrote the tutorial will help me if i want to make the project.

thanks for your help

If you’re planning on

If you’re planning on using Visual Studio you probably have to go with C# and a .NET micro framework. Like a FEZ Panda http://www.tinyclr.com/hardware/16/fez-panda/ or a Netduino http://netduino.com/
And believe me, if your just starting out with embedded devises that is a good place to start.

i dont Have to use visual

i dont Have to use visual studio, i just thought it would be better to program with that software. but whichever is the best to program an arduino i will use since i really want to use an arduino. do you think you can post a tutorial on it? or message me the schematic and the code for the laser trigger high speed photography project that you said was your second “project”?


thank you

Ok, ok slow down

I gotta give it to you straigh here, and I appologize if I am harsh… This aint gunna happen, you are not going to build a timer for a camera, at least not for a long time. Right now, you are trying to build an engine and asking what is the difference between fuel injection and a carburator. You need to walk before you run.

This is what you need to do:

Buy an Arduino, the new Uno will do fine. You need a small breadboard, some 22g solid copper wire, a few resistors and caps and pots, maybe some 2n2222 transistors and some leds. When you get these parts, plug the led into the arduino and using code, get that led to blink. After that you could plug in the pot and use it to vary the speed of the blink. After it is blinking and you know what went into making it so, you will then understand why this timer project should not be your first.

I don’t mean to crap on your parade here but these folks will get nasty when you ask too many questions about step 487 when you are only on step 1,2 or 3. I wish you good luck, this is a great hobby but there is a lot of work and patience and learning.

In the meantime, you need to seek information! Google arduino, goto sparkfun and search there for parts and posts, read data sheets and google words you don’t know etc. etc. etc.

I will make a post on that

I will make a post on that project but it’s way down on my list of things to do.

As I said this was my first project on the Arduino, that doesn’t mean that I’m new to programming or hardware for that matter. The first program I wrote was on an AIM65 way back in 1979, probably before most of the LMR users where ever born. http://oldcomputers.net/AIM-65.html

After I finished the trigger project I felt that the Arduino was overkill for this simple task. I think a better way to go is using BCD thumbwheel switches for the delay offset and maybe a PICAXE as the controller.  http://www.surplussales.com/switches/swthumbw-1.html

Like Chris is saying below. Start small and work your way up. 

I suggest you make a robot

I suggest you make a robot first! (start here link in top teft) :slight_smile: can’t hurt… And it will open your eyes to microcontrollers.

At least you have to understand how a microcontroller works.

If you just need a picture of a drop really fast and cheap I suggest taking 300 images and hope for one good. Use rechargable batterys in camera and flash. Here is one pic I took using this method. :slight_smile:

renkkus drop

Im the inventor of Picture-Axe, and one year ago I didn’t know what a microcontroller was. Now I just don’t know what I’m doing, but it works. :slight_smile:

Here is a page I found

Here is a page I found useful when making the simple picture-axe. That gave me the idea of using a SCR for triggering the flash.

Good luck!

ok im not a complete n00b to

ok im not a complete n00b to all this stuff, i know what a micro controller is and what a digital circuit is since i am taking classes for becoming a computer engineer. i know what MOSFETS and XOR and NOT gates and all that stuff is so please dont shut me down on things i CANT do. Currently im taking classes on Circuits so this falls into play as to what im doing. I just need a schematic and list of parts thats it and im on my way and i will post the pictures from the project as well!

Please, PLEASE do a few smaller projects first!

Noones shutting you down. You asked for advice, and the best advice that people are trying to give to you is “learn to walk first”. It’s actually slightly frustrating for most of the people here when noobs like us jump online and say “hey, tell me how to make my project”…

People are much more likely to help you - or even talk to you, if you do a bit of effort and come up with a specific question “what’s a good way to trigger a laser?” rather than “give me the schematics for the robots that you have already worked hard on”.

What’s more confusing from my noob point of view is why you don’t want to follow the advice that has been given to you - start smaller, get familiar with the capabilities of your system, THEN think how to implement it. You can’t force your tools to do a job when you don’t know what jobs your tools can do. Seriously, go on to something smaller then come back in a 6 months.


** this triggers the camera**


this triggers the camera for lighting photos ;)