All posts by Biolapse

5/12/2014 Building Carniverous Set part 2

New set is coming along nicely.

And so is this blog. I may still work on some restructuring,  but this is incredibly less effort. And at this point, i need this to be simple.

SO… after a day of drying, i started using some painters tape to start building the area up. I did not want it solid foam, as i want to be able to access the grow ups from the back. . I decided to add in four grow zones.  Each grow cup has an inlet and outlet for watering from the rear so i do not have risk bumping or moving the plants once they are going.


Once the tape was in place i used more foam to build those areas up.


And here it is. I ran out of foam and will need to pick some more up. I am really please with the progress on this. Also, this is just a lot of fun!

I enjoy having creative outlets, I have always been pretty good at drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.  The foam is an incredibly easy medium to work with. Just spray it in, if some areas are too built up, no biggie, just use a bread knife and carve them down.


Here you can see one of the holes i put in the back of the setup where i can check the water levels. And as i mentioned earlier, there are two hoses in each up, one to add water in, and one to drain it out. So if i overfill by accident, no big deal. It also means i can keep the water fresh.


My Sundew!!!!!! Im so excited! I have wanted one of these for a long time now. Every time i got one it was destroyed in shipping.  THis one arrived in sorry shape, but it was alive. Apparently i have been doing something right because it has new leaves coming out covered in small red hairs with the little sticky glue on it. 🙂



I still have a lot of work ahead of me.  I need to finish the foam, texture, seal, and cover the set. i plan to add some sticks and branches, everything i can to create a set that looks like the real world.

I am about to go pull the memory card for the plants lori gave me. They really started to get big with this new grow light.  I think i am going to go pull the memory card in a little bit.  See how everything turned out


5/10/2014, Building Carniverous Set Part 1

Pretty excited!

The new light i am using has greatly increased the plants i have been filming. Getting closer to the carniverous plant set.

I recently found out a local nursery has some pitcher plants and flytraps on the way. I hope they dont mind if i clean them out.

I started working on the new set today, this will be a lot more ambitious with various grow cups in the set, as well as irrigation lines so i can add/remove water from behind.

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And this brings us to the present.

let me try to catch up a  bit.

From this point on everything here will be new content to this site.

I have been working pretty hard at this stuff, a LOT of failures but things are starting to turn around. Im not just taking 10 hour of timelapse of a plant under a simple light. I am running day/night cycles, watering times, all this is being orchestrated by the BCM which will change the entire lighting scheme just before it snaps a picture. I am also bringing movement into this, and to top it off i am trying to grow carnivorous plants in a basement in Colorado.

To call this ambitious is somewhat reserved. So cut me some slack 😉

The first flytrap died like a champ.

SO i knew i needed to only use distilled water, and to use pete/sphagnum mix. The problem was the mix had fertilizer which kills flytraps. Also, i was using tap water in the fogger. the minerals and additives in the tap water are not removed when the mist is formed, so basically i blew a toxic cloud of poisonous gas on the poor thing.

So i got some more flytraps, and managed to kill the next one as well. Once again to the Peat/sphagnum mix. Not untill yesterday did i noticed it had miracle grow additives. I did not even bother to stitch it together in a timelapse, the eMotimo i was using wasnt working right for me, probably my fault. And the keyframing on my chronos rail got wonky on me. Sometimes things just go to shit, not much you can do but take notes and learn.

So I had one flytrap left.  I figured it was a good idea to leave it be for now.

So i did this instead.1534358_613710862051872_6408188002057015482_n 10172666_613710838718541_1218832656776751027_n 10269469_613710825385209_8346237839650728783_n

Using some foam, cardboard, some wood, coconut fiber mix, dried sphagnum moss, and some super green fake moss from walmart, i built a backdrop.

i really did not expect it to look anywhere this good. I am already planning out the next one, which will be a full set with multiple tiers, watering system, etc, but this one is more than enough to do some shooting with.

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So i shot for several days, this time the plant lived. I kept ti in the sphagnum, bought enough distilled water at walmart people probably thought i was a doomsday prepper.

just a side note, yes, i use walmart ok? it is real close and only 63 cents per gallon of distilled water. and their fake ass moss is cheap too.

Anyway, the plant lived, but it sure did not move too much.

I think the issue was a lack of light. the 4x 4foot tubes are probably not enough unless they are laying on top of the plant.

I just picked up a 600 watt grow lamp though, it certainly charged the plants im growing right now.

So this is about where I am with this stuff I have 4 flytraps in a single pot, a new Sundew plant that is recovering shipping nicely, and some live sphagnum that i am trying to get to grow. I have a Red Dragon flytrap that should be here any day.


And down stairs i am currently shooting some plants with the new grow light, i cant remember the name of the plants, but im really stoked with how they are going.  A friend from work gave me these plants, she  knows a lot more about botany than i do, and it looks like a good recommendation. Ill find out the name and update it with the results.

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Biolapse Control Module

Building a new timelapse controller

So a couple weeks ago I had purchased some parts to use in construction of the next project greenthumb controller. I finally started building the thing. This is one of those cases where rushing will lead to problems. It is best to think this stuff over, be methodical, write down concepts and notes, then step away and revisit it every few days with a fresh mind.

I finally have a good idea of how this is going to run.

I present to you, the beginning of the new controller.

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OK ok… SO it needs a little work.


As you can see it is pretty big. Considering this will sit in a studio the size is not a big deal, bigger is easier to work on, and I can fit more junk in it.

As you can see in the image, it does have 4 outlets controlled by separate relays.

Relay 1 = Grow light outlet. Used for day/night schedules and shooting routines.

Relay 2 = Water pump for watering schedules.

Relay 3 = Humidifier

Relay 4 = Temp.


On the opposite side of the outlets I have two 12vDC outlets used to power external 12 volt devices.

And last but not least, on the top I have four 3.5mm jacks, one Input, one Shutter trigger, and two LED triggers.

In the image you can see the AC-12VDC converter, the 4 relays, the outlets, and jacks.


I had originally planned to use a SparkFun Serial Graphic LCD display, but I had done some testing and quickly abandoned it. Turns out the sparkfun firmware is sorta junky, everyone recommends swapping the firmware to a non-sparkfun display, and everybody wrote their libraries for that firmware instead of the sparkfun firmware. What does this mean? Well it means to use the display i have to build a parallel cable adapter and dump the file in, but i don’t have a parallel interface. I could go through the hoops in order to do this but honestly right now I am far too busy to screw with it. I would rather just plug and play with something I already know how to use, so i dug out an old 16×2 serial display out of my junk drawer and will be using that instead.

Humidity is a concern, this humidifier is no joke and can easily hit the room to levels where humidity can cause mold, so I plan to use 2 layers of protection. First will be a nice little humidity sensor/controller i purchased. This will control the main circuit, if this is past its threshold it will shut off the fog. Ill probably set this at 70%

I really want to be able to grow stuff like moss and carnivorous plants, so the plan is to have the humidifier dump fog directly onto the plants, about 1 minute before the shutter triggers it will shut off. This will give 1 full minute for the fog to dissipate and get out of the photo.

This should also, provide a high humidity zone for the plants.


Programming this was pretty straight forward. I was able to snag large chunks of code from ChronoTimer 1.3 and import them in to make the controls a simple task.

There is no real; menu, it runs very similar to the ChronoControllers with a Mode dial on the Right side, and an Adjust dial on the left side.

The buttons have new tasks, I have an OPT button to cycle through sub-modes and the SET button remains used to lock in the value. What was the LEFT button is now a test-fire button that will set the lighting to the shooting state and fire off a test shot.

I gave the system the ability to read and control both temperature and humidity. The timer functions allow me to run day/night cycles, run fog between shots but still stop soon enough to allow the fog a chance to dissipate so it is not in the image.

The system really is a cross between a Time Lapse Intervalometer and a grow room control panel. Of course being in Colorado everyone who hears me discussing environmental controls seems to think i am growing pot.


Now this is where the fun slick parts come into play. I have recently upgraded to a faster laptop with SSD, 16gb ram, etc, and had originally planned to sell my older laptop. However, the price I could get for it, it seems I could find better uses. So it has been tied in with the BCM via serial connection. It now spits out a status report with every image, and logs the time of various events.

This came in particularly useful just last week. I had noticed that the grow light was shutting off about 5 minutes before it took the image, somehow I had managed to swap some values around. And while the system was generally running well, it was no optimal. I was at my day job and decided to remote in with my Surface Pro to check on things and see how it was doing. I tunneled into my home Laptop from my Surface, then established a connection to the studio laptop. I noticed the problem and pulled the code file back to my surface, made the adjustment, transferred it back to the studio laptop and uploaded the fixed code to the BCM. It started right back up and the problem was fixed, and it only took about 5 minutes.

Not only can I access the log from the BCM, but it also runs a web-cam aimed at the setup for a brief visual inspection so i can be sure that the light is actually on when it says it is on.

For image retrieval, I have a 16gb Eye-Fi wireless SDHC that constantly dumps the images to my new laptop. So i can review the footage without having to step foot in the room.

It is a pretty slick setup if I may say so myself. I can control all aspects of the environment remotely and I don’t even have to pull out the memory card to see how the images are looking.


Illuminating Unexpected friends

So now that the BMC is finished and running, I spent about 5 days shooting moss to see how everything performed. I have added in an LED lighting panel to replace the strobes. I just got one to test with, and so far I am very happy! The light is very consistent, very smooth, and LED is clearly the way to go.


After running for a day something had become obvious, that my Bioset was a good place for things to live. A lot of things. A lot of tiny, different critters.  First off, you can see the soil near the base of the moss keeps moving, and there is what  almost looks like static fuzziness in the moss.

At least the lighting is solid and consistent.
But what am I supposed to do about Big Worm & the ‘lil Guys?



I was not too concerned about Big Worm, while he was doing his best to trash my timelapse set from my understanding it means I have a healthy set. How he got in there, I am not sure.

The little guys on the other hand worried me. At first i had thought they were springtails, they only seemed to be interested in the damp areas. But when I examine images online of Springtails they don’t look like these at all. If anybody could identify these please shoot me an email i would be curious to know.

Whatever the hell they are, I am reluctant to use any pesticides, and figured the best course of action would be to scrap the entire set for now. My parents who are my biggest supporters had given some bulbs to me to play with. So this morning I removed all the dirt, cleaned out my trays, dumped everything out, and shut off the humidifier and moved onto the next project.

Considering they had not moved beyond the damp areas I imagine they cannot survive in other enviornments. Colorado is awfully dry, my basement rarely gets over 30% humidity

Once I am done with the bulbs I was planning on building a set for carniverous plants, however a small film company has asked if i would be interested in helping them shoot a scene for a film they are working one. As far as i know it is not a paying gig, but the subject looks very intriguing. I think i might put the carnivorous plants off a little bit longer 😉
For now, its time to grow some bulbs 🙂