Time Lapse Camera Instructions Steve Roof June 2006 Overall Procedure: Indoors I. Program DigiSnap with laptop if necessary (check CRITICAL settings – see below) II. Setup camera (clear memory card, set time, set image quality and size) Outdoors III. Position and secure Pelican case, external battery, and solar panel IV. Position camera, set to infinity ( ), adjust zoom, frame image using viewscreen V. Connect DigiSnap and power cables to camera and battery (see below because the order of connections is important) Voila! It’s done! <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> I. Programming the DigiSnap Condensed from “digisnap2000_manual.pdf” available from http://www.harbortronics.com/manuals.htm The DigiSnap consists of two electronic parts and 3 cables: The time lapse controller connects to a PC using a standard serial “null-modem” cable. Windows HyperTerminal is used to communicate with the controller using a simple set up file called “Harbortronics DigiSnap.ht” (avail from Harbortronics website: http://www.harbortronics.com/manuals.htm). Note – the 4 button switches on the top of the DigiSnap have been disabled to prevent the time lapse sequence from being inadvertently interrupted. They can be reprogrammed if necessary. The DigiSnap will be powered by the big external lead acid battery in the field, but for testing in the lab, you can unscrew the back and install a AAA alkaline battery. Remove the AAA battery before final deployment in the field. To program the DigiSnap (or just check the programmed settings): Connect the serial cable to the PC (Com1) and the DigiSnap Startup the HyperTerminal setup file Hit Return to wake up the DigiSnap (must have either external power connected or battery installed) You should see a welcome screen labeled “Main Menu” The DigiSnap has 3 operation modes: Single Picture Simple Time Lapse Advanced Time Lapse Use Advanced Time Lapse mode. Simple Time Lapse instructs the camera to take a picture at a set time interval (e.g., 30 minutes, 1 hour, 12 hours, etc). Advanced Time Lapse allows you to program picture taking at specific clock times (e.g., one pic at 10am, one at 6pm) using the camera’s internal clock. Advanced Time Lapse mode allows you to pre-program the picture times. (Also, I think the advanced mode restarts its schedule each day, so if it gets interrupted, it might restart the next day). The Operation Mode is indicated on the Main Menu. The DigiSnap will operate in the indicated mode the next time it is powered up. The commands from the main menu are pretty self-evident: M – sets the operation mode T – Configures the Simple Time Lapse settings A – Configure the Advanced Time Lapse settings Use “M” to change the operating mode to Advance Time Lapse if necessary. Configuring Advanced Time Lapse is easy. You can program up to 8 different sequences. For each sequence, you enter the number of pics to take, the starting time, and the interval length. For example, you could enter 3 shots starting at 12 noon with an interval of 1 hour. You’d get pics shot at noon, 1pm, and 2pm. If you want pics shot at 10am, 12 noon, and 6pm, you’d could program 2 sequences (e.g., one to take 2 pics starting at 10am with a 2 hour interval and the other to take one pic at 6pm with 0 for the interval), or you could program 3 sequences, each taking one pic at the appropriate time. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Just make sure the sequences don’t overlap. Oh, and be sure the camera’s internal clock is set correctly!! There are a few other CRITICAL settings to set: I. Camera Menu – Time Lapse Operation (L from the main menu) Make sure the following are set correctly: Protocol Used: Standard – Option S (but use Extended Protocol if using the Nikon 5400 camera) LCD On: Disabled II. DigiSnap Operations Menu (O from the Main Menu) Everything here should be set to default EXCEPT CamChkPer constant MUST be set to 0 (zero). If it’s not, the DigiSnap will communicate with the camera frequently and draw the battery down way too fast. The DigiSnap has been set to CanCkPer = 0, but since it’s critical, check it anyways! The Power Savings option should be enabled (the default setting). When you’ve made all the right settings, quit your way back to the main menu, then quit again. The savings are transferred to the DigiSnap when you quit from the main menu. The DigiSnap is powered off and is ready to connect to the camera. You can now remove the AAA battery from the DigiSnap if you will be using it next with the external battery. (all the programmed settings are preserved even with the battery removed.) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> II. Setting up the Nikon CoolPix 5700 There are lots of options and settings with this camera! Refer to the manual for all the details. Play with the camera a bit to get familiar with it. For Time Lapse, use the camera in the default mode (“User A”, which is the Programmed Auto mode. See p. 25 in the manual if or show up in the upper left of the monitor or viewscreen. But make two changes: set the focus to infinite and adjust the image size and quality. The infinite focus setting prevents the camera from focusing on the glass window of the Pelican case and it turns off the flash. - To set the infinite focus mode: Press the button on the left side of the camera until the icon shows in the LCD window on top of the camera. **Need to figure out what image and size and quality to recommend … Before you leave the camera for the year, be sure to offload any important pics and clear the memory card (Everything shuts down when the memory card gets full. If we find a bunch of your test pics but no spring shots of the melt season on the card next year, we’ll be upset!!) Outdoors III. Position and secure Pelican case, external battery box, and solar panel You’re mostly on your own here! Position the box with the battery and solar panel someplace nearby that is really stable. Route the power wires under rocks or secure them really really well – wind and rime ice can rip exposed cables to shreds! IV. Positioning the Camera First, remove the battery from the Nikon camera before mounting to the wooden base plate (the battery compartment is on the button under the grip). Since the internal battery is not used, I think it’s best to remove it so it doesn’t corrode or anything. Likewise, make sure the AAA battery has been removed from the DigiSnap. These tasks are best both done indoors. Position the Pelican case on a firm base and secure it initially with the lid open. Secure the camera to the wooden mounting board and arrange the electronics and wires neatly inside the box. Use cables ties to keep it all neat and tidy. Make sure no cables can get in the way of the lens! Next, connect the power cable from the Power Converter to the camera (but don’t connect the camera to the DigiSnap yet). The power port is under a rubber flap on the upper left side of the camera. Turn on the camera and set it to the infinity ( ) setting. Flip out the viewscreen so you can see the field of view of the camera while you move the Pelican case. Play with the camera’s zoom to frame the desired field of view. But be sure that the camera’s field of view does NOT include much or any of the sky – if the Sun shines through the camera lens it can burn out the CCD inside the camera! V. Connecting the DigiSnap to the camera: The sequence is important here: 1. First, confirm the camera is all set. The plug the DigiSnap serial cable into the camera (the serial port is right below the power port). As soon as the serial cable is plugged in, the LCD on the camera will go blank and you can’t make any more adjustments. 2. Lastly, connect the power cable from the Power Converer to the DigiSnap 2000. This will “wake up” the DigiSnap and it will start whatever program you programmed it for. Carefully close and latch the Pelican case (don’t let it shift!) and bury it with more rocks. Then leave it alone. VI. Changing camera settings or swapping the memory card while in Time Lapse mode My testing indicates that you can unplug the serial cable from the camera and mess around with the camera without upsetting the DigiSnap sequence. When you unplug the serial cable (at the camera), the camera returns to its normal state. You can change the zoom, change the image resolution, change the time, etc. If you want to swap the memory card, turn the camera off first. But make sure to reset to the infinity setting and reset the zoom when you turn it back on again!