Let's Make Robots!

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


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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 the code? like how do i upload them to the microcontrollers

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 carpenter.


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

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 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.

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.

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

C++ isn`t 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 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