Another year another failure

in photography •  5 months ago

Last year I setup a custom built time-lapse camera on my family's cottage which is located on a small island in the north Swedish archipelago.

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I want to capture the dynamic climate we get there, from the lush summers to the cold winters. See how the ice starts to form and then how it wanders through the winter and finally breaks up in spring.

So in August last year I setup the system running on a battery and solar panels (the cottage is completely off the grid). I was a bit worried that the battery would run flat during the dark winter, we barley get any sun in December and January up here, but I setup the system so that it would start up again when the sun returns if the battery drains fully.

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The time-lapse system, a Raspberry PI 2, 240gb SSD, a gutted Xiaomi YI camera and some sensors mounted in a standard CCTV enclosure with 3D printed fittings.

This weekend I went back and checked the system and found that the camera had died after just two months... not even surviving long enough to capture the first snowfall. Very disappointing, but at least it survived longer than the setup I tried the year before which gave up after only a week.

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The first setup consisted of an Arduino that triggered a Canon DSLR, the mechanical shutter on the camera jammed after a couple of thousand exposures. The 3d-printed enclosure turned out nice at least :-)

The good news is that everything else worked, the software I wrote that downloads, encodes and stores the videos on a SSD worked flawlessly and the system came back up even after the battery ran flat once.

So this year I'm going to try again with another camera, the image quality will not be as good but hopefully it will make it all the way through the year.

Here's the 2 months of footage I managed to capture before the camera gave up, sped up 20x with the nights shortened:

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What a cool video regardless. Sucks that you just got 2 months. I bet the year would have been fascinating. Always next year.

This is crazy cool! I'd want to set up something similar, but not sure how I'd get to doing it lol. Plus, we don't have the best transitions here haha. Nice job though ^^

It's cool either way. You could take 60 images from time 12:00:00 to 12:00:01 and make a 1 minute video like that. We should see a bit of dim change and motion too :)

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Thanks! Good idea, I'm gonna try it

Haha well at least your making improvements. Very creative in writing your own software. Should be fun once you get a better camera. :)

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Thanks for the great post @almost-digital

Very interesting video to watch - A lot of nice "cloudy" days that added to the shot.

  1. giant-ass deep cycle lead acid battery, or 2-3 in a bank

  2. i think an algorithmic speed ramping, to identify night/day (obviously fast forward the night, like you did probably manually?), and then a bell curve for the daytime speed (to show longer dawn/sunrise/sunset/twilight).

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I have two of these in parallel now, hoping it will be enough :) Doing variable intervals is a good idea, I have a light sensor on the rig as well but didn't get around to writing any code that uses it apart from logging the day length