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Time Lapse Camera Box

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Time Lapse Camera Box
« on: 26 / February / 2012, 17:04:29 »
Anyone else built one?  I'm getting ready to...

What I'm getting at is a weather proof container that will house my camera and a battery pack.  Something I can take somewhere and leave then go back after the camera has shot the time lapse.

So far my supplies are

-(1) Outdoor Products "water tight" box from walmart $9
-(4) 2xAA battery holders to make a 8xAA 3V battery pack (I may need more like 16, unsure.. or might have to get into D-cell NiMH.) $1.50 or so each on ebay
-(1) UV filter to epoxy to the box for the camera to look out of, also to allow me to screw on filters $3 on ebay
-(8 ) LSD Ray O Vac hybrids $15 on ebay (still have to get more of these)

Should be pretty basic to build and get everything mounted inside.  I am using an A590 now but I may make it so the 1/4-20 screw can be moved to position other future cameras inside the box so they look through the filter.  I also have to get the right cord-end for the A590 external power jack.   Unsure as to how I am going to set it up for mounting/positioning the box itself.  Probably either legs on the bottom or tree mount like a trail-camera.

I think I am also going to make some kind of hood to keep water from getting on the UV-filter, and to shade it.  I will probably also camouflage it somehow.

I'll post pics when I'm done... hopefully within a week or two.
« Last Edit: 26 / February / 2012, 17:08:06 by oronocova »

Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #1 on: 26 / February / 2012, 17:16:43 »
Fun project - looking forward to the pix of the build.
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Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #2 on: 01 / March / 2012, 22:37:38 »
Alright I am mostly done with the box now.  Here is a poorly done video of it :)

Weather resistant box to house a camera, with battery pack.

Hopefully the pictures tell the story.  I followed my initial plan and made the rest up as I went along.

The camera is mounted to a "shelf" shelf which can slide in and out of the box.  I actually still have to get a 1/4-20 bolt (I like the plastic ones from lowes) to mount the camera.  The "rails" are made from a balsa square-dowel I had left over.  The idea is either I can use the shelf I made or make another if I want to use a different camera, since another camera will likely require a different mounting location.  Since there is some play on the rails I put some foam at the front of the shelf and on the door of the box.  So when the door is closed the foam compresses against the shelf and it is held securely in place.

The battery box is made from 4 2xAA holders. It is 2S4P wiring for 3V output.  The plug I picked up at a local store and was a solder on plug.  I should have went for one with wire leads.  My soldering skills aren't the best but I got it done.  I screwed the battery holders down to another piece of thing plywood and just lay it in the bottom of the box on top of some non-skid material.  Then I cut a piece of foam to kind of hold them down in place.  I may end up mounting them more permanenly but since I don't know how long 8AAs are going to run the camera I'm going to hold off on mounting them any differently.  I just used speaker wire for the wiring.

One thing I may end up wishing I did different is the "window" aka UV filter.  It works well for the A590 I built it around... but who knows if I will be able to position a different model to look out of it.  If not I can always cut a larger hole in the box for either a larger filter or just a rectangular piece of glass.  I also have a larger lens hood on order to protect it from rain.

So still to do:
-1/4-20 bolt for the tripod mount on the camera
-some type of stand/mount for the box itself so it can be aimed

Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #3 on: 02 / March / 2012, 04:45:12 »
Great idea, I'm waiting for a timelapse from this camera. Hehe, 'out of box' :)
if (2*b || !2*b) {

Compile error: poor Yorick

Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #4 on: 02 / March / 2012, 21:22:38 »
Thanks, I'm rendering a test one right now.  I'm not sure how the battery life fuction on CHDK works but it still showed 100% after being on for around 2-3 hours with about half of that using a 6sec exposure and the LCD on.  I added a headphone plug to my "kit" in order to help with the LCD screen being on (light in the box not good anyway) and thereby battery drain ...  Aaaannndd I'm getting ready to set it outside right now because we have some storms rolling through tonight.

I'm just using 8 AA akalines from dollar general right now.  I plan on getting some high cap. NiMHs.  I usually use eneloops for their low self discharge properties but since these will be discharged over the course of hours/(days?:) rather than left on the shelf I'm going to try and get higher capacity NiMHs.  Any recommendations?  So far I'm pretty stoked with the apparent battery life and the box has room for like 16 more AAs so it might be a good project for someone who wanted to take a long term time lapse sequence away from wall power even.

>EDIT> Ran it for a couple more hours 10sec exposure with the LCD off via the AV-plug.  When I took it out the camera was showing low battery but the CHDK meter was showing ~75% so go figure.
« Last Edit: 03 / March / 2012, 00:28:04 by oronocova »


Offline fe50

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Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #5 on: 03 / March / 2012, 03:28:43 »
When I took it out the camera was showing low battery but the CHDK meter was showing ~75% so go figure.
You can adjust the CHDK meter for your camera's battery:
* http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK_User_Manual#Battery

Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #6 on: 03 / March / 2012, 07:22:03 »
@fe50 .. thanks for the battery tip.

Here's a poor example of a timelapse, but the first using the box.  The photos didn't turn out as I had hoped and youtube didn't give it a 1080 option.  Not sure why.  I'm also using Corel's VS Pro now instead of Movie Maker and Virtual Dub so it's a learning process.  Anyhow the box was under the bumper of my car (gotta work on a mount/stand) and still got soaked.  We had some pretty bad storms, tornado warnings, etc...  The interior of the box was completely dry though :)

Thunderstorms over Yuma, VA 03 02 2012

Using the intervalometer.bas script, Tv mode with exposure of 10sec.

A lot of times the storms pass like this at my house.  Hardly any cloud to ground lightning... just in the clouds in the distance over the mountain range.  But I'm thankful for that also.  Would be interesting to have the camera positioned to shoot over an area with a lot of probability for cloud to ground strikes.  I suppose with a more active storm a smaller exposure might help to not get as many "white-out" shots, but then you would also decrease the visibility in the shots where there is not lightning occurring.  Kind of a hard phenomena to capture well in a time lapse, at least for me.
« Last Edit: 03 / March / 2012, 07:26:14 by oronocova »

Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #7 on: 03 / March / 2012, 07:45:22 »
I don't know about battery metter, but if there would be CHDK camera-scared-meter it would be near 100% at this night ;)

I use ffmpeg for timelapses now (I tried Movie maker, but it's not good program for this). ffmpeg is console-based, but there's a lot of nice examples of its usage. It gives nice output and you can simply adjust the most important params - fps, frame size and bitrate.

About exposure - seems like there's no good way to have not underexposed background with not overexposed lightings in time lapse. Or no idea comes to my mind...
« Last Edit: 03 / March / 2012, 07:47:49 by outslider »
if (2*b || !2*b) {

Compile error: poor Yorick


Offline ahull

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Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #8 on: 03 / March / 2012, 17:15:22 »
Thanks for the inspiration, I went out this afternoon and bought a "watertight" food box, its going to be a sod to paint 'cos its made of polypropylene, so I may just glue some bits of drab material to it.

I had already bought the battery holders, a bunch of cheap second hand 49mm camera filters  including a UV and polariser and a voltage regulator module so to allow me to precisely fix the output from the battery pack. The plan is to also wire up an optional PIR module so I can use it either for wildlife or time lapse. The idea with the PIR is to extend the battery life dramatically, since the PIR draws about 60uA.  I should be able to make the PIR switch on the regulator, and this in turn will power up the camera, which will start a default CHDK script once powered up.

My food box has two internal containers, one of which is subdivided into two, in this I will house the batteries in one section, the electronics in the other, and in the top larger container I intend to fit an adjustable shelf to allow me to use either an Ixus or a Powershot A series.

If I find the time, I will post some pics of the build, and any results of shooting.

Total build cost so far
                                        2.99 GBP for the food box Sainsbury supermarket own brand, special offer 2.0 Litre.
                                        6.00 GBP for 18 AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries ebay (incl. free postage from China)
                                        4.00 GBP for the voltage regulator module (ditto)
                                        1.29 GBP for the PIR module                         (ditto)
                                        3.00 GBP approx for the battery holders (from my junk pile)
                                        1.00 GBP approx for the power connector to fit the Canon power socket
                                                                                                                (also from my junk pile)

« Last Edit: 03 / March / 2012, 17:29:53 by ahull »

Re: Time Lapse Camera Box
« Reply #9 on: 03 / March / 2012, 17:22:30 »
maybe B&Q have got some IP-rated outdoor electrical enclosures ?

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