Things I’ve done in my free time

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I used an Arduino Uno to create a noise triggered flash…

February 1, 2016
Posted by admin

…so that I could take photos of balloons popping. 

The action of the balloon popping is too fast for the shutter speed on most cameras. The balloon has already popped before the camera shutter opens and closes for the photo. Therefore, I need a camera that has a Bulb mode (see here for an explanation of the bulb mode feature) so that I could have the shutter already open when the balloon pops. Because the shutter is going to be open for so long, I need to take the photo in a dark room. Otherwise, the photo will be overexposed. Because I’m now taking the photo in a dark room, I need an external flash to light up the photo. Also, pressing the camera button at the same time as the balloon pops is pretty much impossible so I need something that can detect the noise of the pop and then fire the flash to take the photo.

To achieve this, I used an Arduino Uno connected to a breadboard which has a piezo element on it to detect sound.

  

  

Here’s a tutorial that explains the whole process in more detail but basically, I programmed the Arduino to listen for an input from the Piezo element. Once it detects an input (the balloon popping), it fires the external flash. So, with my camera on a tripod and set to Bulb mode, I turn off the lights, I press the button on the camera to open the shutter, I pop the balloon which causes the Arduino to fire the flash and then I press the button on the camera again to close the shutter. The end result looks like this…
  
  

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