Long time no see! How about something different?

Hey everyone 🙂

Sorry it has been so long, i have been trying to enjoy the summer as much as possible, and i have been working on a paying gig that has taken quite a bit of my time.  Things have been going very well on that front, however it frustrates be a bit because I cant discuss anything about the project, which makes blogging a bit difficult.  The good news is there WILL be some BTS of that work, the bad news it will probably be late 2017.

I am able to spare a camera for my own uses though, and right now i am collecting some good blog material, but people will have to be patient.

I thought I would go on a side subject here for a bit, and show a new toy I purchased.  I have seen plenty of waterdrop photography, and I have even played around with some in the past, but i never got very serious about it.

I have another project i am working on (yes i usually have 3-4 projects any any given point, run multiple websites and have 2 jobs, because I apparently hate myself). Im not ready to get into the nitty gritty of that project, but i needed a way to control drops of water, so once i got this valve in i couldn’t wait to try waterdrops again 🙂

Behold. The $60 water drop Valve Sensor from Dreaming Robots



I gotta be honest, this is a very well put together kit.  It does have a certain “I made this in my garage” feel to it, but considering The Chronos Project, I have a soft spot in my heart for well constructed contraptions, built by hand. It feels solid, sturdy, and it works like a charm. What else can you ask for?

And for $60 bucks? Forgeddaboutit. That is the best price I have seen for something like this. If i were charging to build these i would probably go for twice the price because even at $120 this would be a bargain.


I emailed Maurice about how it works, and he confirmed all you need is a 5v signal going to it and it will open the valve. (note, he did tell me +5v to the TOP and GND to the base, but this did not work, i found +5v to the RING and gnd to the base did trigger it) Being handy at electronics and skilled with arduino, rather than buy the “Also very reasonably priced DIY $85 controller” i opted to be super cheap and just build my own with some spare parts I had laying around.


My controller is pretty much just a Arduino R3, and a Sainsmart 16×2 LCD with keypad. They run just a few bucks of Amazon, and if this looks familiar there are quite a few timelapse controllers that use this same basic setup.

In order to get the inputs and outputs i just grabbed a spare Protoshield i had laying around and extended it with a spare blank pcb. From there i mounted three 3.5mm TRS jacks (think traditional headphones), a pair of optoisolators, a couple resitors and some jumper wire.

I have 1 input, which i just plug in a cabled trigger i built a long time ago to trigger the routine. There is one output for the valve, and one for the camera.

So the idea is you pull the trigger, it will wait for the trigger delay to complete, then it will drop a single drop, then wait for the 2nd drop delay, then out comes the second drop., It will delay again and then trigger the camera.

The goal was to get a drop into a cup of water, and have the splash back intercept the second drop and cause a collision in the air.

After hammering out the code and doing a little cleanup work, I have an excellent little timer. TO be honest i did just sort of throw this together, and I am willing to bet Maurice’s very reasonable $85 controller has a lot more time and energy put into it and may yield good results. I do not plan to publish my code for the masses as i am too lazy to draw out the schematics, but if you know enough about this stuff and want the code just ping me, but I recommend buying a working product from Maurice ad Dreaming Robots.

Once i had the prototype working,  ran some dry fire tests just to make sure everything looks to be working as expected



However this was not going to work for any real use, i needed to setup properly.

P1670562 P1670563 P1670565

Setup was a bit of a pain. You need to hold the water valve, and you need GOBS of light which i do NOT have. I found anything less than 1/4000th of a second just gets blurry drops. At the same time, you cant shoot wide open, and i found myself stopping down to F8 and shooting 2,000 iso just to get enough depth of field for most of the drop to be in focus.

So i put two LED panels up real close and a milwauklee cordless shop light.

Now i just had to spend some time triggering it and trying to get the timing down. I imagine everything from the hardness of the water, amount of water in valve, and distance from valve to pool all come into play, so it would be somewhat useless to tell you my settings. But after dicking around with it about 10 minutes i managed to get some collisions.


Here is the first one.  The sombrero above it is the result of an upward moving drop colliding with the 2nd drop.


After that, i got another. 🙂



Increase the DOF, increase shutter speed, and it looks a bit nicer.


DSC08322 DSC08324


I liked the way the one above and below turned out.DSC08412



I have seen some people play with this and get some really interesting colors. I am not 100% how they do it, i suspect mainly by altering the backdrop with something more colorful and maybe having some colors off frame to the outside that it can reflect from.

Well thats it for now, thank you for reading and checking in.  This just goes to show you do not have to spend a fortune to get a very good water drop collision system going.

Stay turned, I have some more Biolapse coming in the next few weeks.


3 thoughts on “Long time no see! How about something different?”

  1. Water drop photos are Great !!!, I wonder if directed or reflected colored light will affect the color of the droplets??

  2. Hello! Amazing photos!

    I want to release the shutter on my a7s with an arduino, then trigger a number of flashes via audio and the close the shutter. But I’m very scared to put anything DIY into my camera, can you please tell me a little about the signal going into the camera and the cable? I mean current, voltage etc and how is the cable plugged to the arduino?

    Very thankful for any reply / Magnus Walander

  3. Thank you Magus!
    So with any of these devices the signal is provided by the camera. So it has 3 leads, one for focus, one for shutter, and one for ground. The camera puts 5V+ on both the Focus and Shutter lead. When you connect either of them to the ground it completes the circuit and the camera knows to either focus, or trigger the shutter. These DIY sort of devices basically just make that connection to trigger the camera.
    To help keep things safe, most people will use a relay or optoisolator. This way the circuitry on the Arduino project is completely separate from the electronics in the camera preventing any potential damage.
    The relay of course having the arduino trigger the mechanical action, and it completes the camera circuit. The Optoisolator (or sometimes called optocoupler) does the same thing, but it uses light internally to make this connection rather than using moving mechanical parts.

    There ARE some pretty sophisticated systems that will actually communicate to the camera with instructions and commands, and can control the aperture, iso, shutter speed, etc, but i have not felt much need for those with any of my projects, and that level of programming is a bit out of my scope 🙂

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