How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

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LucksFortune
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How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

Post by LucksFortune » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:53 pm

I'm building an art installation and part of the design is a big button that people can press to record their session in the booth. I'm planning on using small, cheap cameras, and the booth has wooden walls, so I can mount pretty much anything. It's very important that the only time the camera records is when someone presses the button (consent is sexy amirite?). Any suggestions/advice?

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BBadger
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Re: How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

Post by BBadger » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:05 pm

You should figure out what cheap camera you intend on using first.

Then you can worry about taking it apart and wiring the shutter or record button to a larger external switch.

I'll add to that: for the button itself, you should probably purchase an arcade push-button (e.g. these or these). They're made for pressing in abusive environments and are easy to mount into panels.
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some seeing eye
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Re: How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:14 pm

I would search for DIY video photo booth. One approach is to build the whole thing with Raspberry Pi parts. You can read a mechanical button with debounce code.
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LucksFortune
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Re: How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

Post by LucksFortune » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:46 pm

Oh wow thanks! That's super helpful! I never even considered a DIY photo booth and those buttons are a good call too. Looks like I get to teach myself some raspberry pi now :)

PanMan
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Re: How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

Post by PanMan » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:43 pm

What do you want to make happen with the pic/video afterwards?
I have made a few installations that included a camera, but it mostly depends on what you want to do next.
If you "only" want to take and save the pics/video, its probably easiest (and best for image quality) to use a standalone camera and fake a remote control. There are simple arduino scripts that can fake a camera remote (over IR), and for many camera's you can also create a cable with a button to set it to record.
If you want to do more with the images, you either want to go with a raspberry, but they have less picture quality than a simple standalone cam (as they use cheap webcam sensors). Or you can control some camera's over USB from a computer or raspberry.
Send me a message if you have specific questions I can help with.

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PocoJoe
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Re: How can I wire buttons to cameras for art installation?

Post by PocoJoe » Sat May 05, 2018 8:31 am

I had a project that required I mount three digital cameras with overlapping views to generate an offline panoramic image. The cameras were mounted on top of a vehicle, and every tenth of a mile a picture was taken of the Mount Lemmon highway. It was the first year of the Mount Lemmon Marathon and I was training for the marathon by running on a treadmill at a 6 percent grade and it was boring as hell. I recorded these images along with the elevation to create a slide deck that showed the grade, and advanced a the pace I was running (slow). It allowed me "run" a different section of the route from one day to the next and "look around" while on the route. It was fun and made the training a lot more enjoyable.

The cameras were inexpensive Nikon point and shoot cameras, but not free, and the "shutter release" buttons were well engineered. I considered taking the cameras apart and wiring a switch contact but instead took a mechanical approach. I took a short length of pipe the diameter of a bicycle handlebar (I think it is 1") and put a bicycle grip on it along with a bicycle handbrake. I could drive the car and squeeze the handbrake to trigger the three photos simultaneously. I ran the handbrake cable (they can be quite long) to the cameras. A plate mounted the cameras using the 1/4x20 mounting holes on the bottom, and above the cameras, another plate was positioned that extended over all 3 shutter release buttons. The hardware store supplied some springs that were about an inch long and that when compressed about a half inch generated the amount of force that felt like pressing on the camera without trying to brake it. The bicycle brake cable came in from below, and when it was pulled, it depressed the shutter release. The important step was the springs - no matter how hard you "squeezed the brake lever" only an appropriate amount of force would be placed on the shutter.

The year of Silk Road, I started to do a photo booth design with a raspberry pi and pi camera. Very inexpensive and lots of software examples available. Plan was to generate a "Photo Collage" (like Bill Maher's "New Rules" teaser) where individual photos and emails would be collected, and after the event, a photo collage of that year's man would be generated and people who contributed images would be emailed and get to download the composite image. Then, they would have the fun of a "Where's Waldo" hunt to find themselves in the composite which was planned to be a really large image file so each thumbnail had about 200x200 pixels resolution. The idea was fun to develop but it turned into a morass of consent and copyright issues so it never hit the playa. I still think it would be fun.

Since then a lot of selfie sticks have come along that have a nice mounting bracket and a Bluetooth keyfob that connects to the phone to trigger the camera. Kind of low tech but with everyone accumulating old cell phones you might be able to collect several, get them to charge, and then cycle them in and out of your installation and be able to concentrate on the construction instead of the wiring.

I am sure you have heard this, but the playa is a VERY harsh environment to build against. It is hard enough to put up a 3"x6" panel of plywood (one side of a photo booth) and be sure it will not blow away in a 60 mph wind. Throw in designing lots of electronics and it is easy to get distracted on the big picture! Good luck I hope you have fun doing the project - it sounds like you are having fun already.

Joe
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