Arduino makes electronics easy for everybody! It is both hardware (a circuit board) and software (a programming environment). ARDUINO allows anybody – just by learning a simplified programming language – to connect electronics and electrical devices together and give them instructions. Your PC, lamps, sensors, ..it’s just up to your creativity. As defined in the developers’ site “Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.”
This is how the ARDUINO’s developers define their boards. On their site you find anything about it; it’s an open source project, so the coding software is free and you just have to buy a board (or actually make one yourself!).
I’m posting on ARDUINO because it just helped me with an issue I had with my workflow for panoramic infrared reflectography.
The Gigapan Epic Pro panoramic head it’s an awesome tool to speed up high resolution documentation of art.
It works like a charm with a digital camera since with its USB cable it can trigger the shutter of the camera, so you just have to sit down and wait few minutes until your high resolution images are taken. Though, things become a bit more complicated when an infrared reflectography camera is used, such as an InGaAs camera. Gigapan Epic Pro, doesn’t trigger cameras other than the major brand consumer photo cameras (Nikon, Canon, Olympus, ..) This means that we have to manually shoot the pictures. Since InGaAs cameras are usually connected to a PC, it comes just to press a letter on the keyboard to take an image, while the Gigapan Epic Pro moves the camera. Though, the InGaAs detector is much smaller than a digital camera sensor. InGaAs are available in two sizes, 320 x 254 pixels or the much more expensive 640 x 512 pixels. Compare these pixel counts with the images shot by the DSLR Nikon D800 (36MP), 7360 x 4912 pixels. This means that while you can get a resolution of 20 pixels/mm with a panorama of 10 shots from the Nikon D800, you need hundreds of shots from the InGaAs camera 320 x 254 pixels. I actually did about 500 shots just for one painting.
Well, pressing a key on your laptop keyboard 500 times is not only boring but you are likely to miss one or more shots. And definitely you don’t want to repeat the 500 shooting process again.
So, I called Gigapan technical laboratory and they, as usual, did their best to help me. Their engineer, Mark, suggested me the magic word, ARDUINO! So, I bought an ARDUINO board (TEENSY 2), I programmed it, I made some soldering and now the Infrared Reflectography shooting is all automatic!
Let me show you how to make it.
1. Cut the camera side of a Gigapan cable that you don’t use (Gigapan provides a number of cables to fit major camera brands).
2. You’ll find a red and a yellow wires. Plug the yellow on the GROUND pin of the TEENSY and the red on the 10th pin.
3. We need now to program the TEENSY. The key instruction you have to put in your program is – Keyboard.print(” “) – . Every time Gigapan EPIC Pro sends a shutter signal, the TEENSY board deliver a keyboard signal of your choice to the PC, in this case a space bar key stroke. The software of my InGaAs camera shoots an image every time the space bar is pressed on the keyboard, but you can change it to whatever keys combination you need.
4. Then, I found a nice box to keep the TEENSY safe and clean!