Water Droplets & Electronics

For some time now I have been interested in photographing water droplets – I even used a couple of basic droplet shots in my ARPS panel that some of you may already have seen in an earlier posting.

But i would like to take this further – initially to capture some droplet collisions, and even – maybe – venture into the world of multi coloured liquids and multiple valves.

I’ve had some experience with a unit called PhotoTrigger by Binary Logic ( be aware that there is another box out there with a very similar name ), but the basic PhotoTrigger will control your camera and/or strobe lights using inputs from visual and audio signals ( eg breaking laser beams and using microphones to detect sounds ). But this device can’t control solenoid valves, and (apparently) that’s what you need to be able to do if you are into droplet collision.

Naturally there are boxes out there that will do everything that I want to do, but they don’t come cheap. And for some perverse reason I decided that I would like to have a go at building at least a basic piece of kit that will control a single valve – and take it from there.

So, with the help of some friends who know a lot more about electronics than I do ( and I have to say, that’s not difficult ) over the last couple of weeks I’ve been putting together such a ‘black box’. The whole device is built around an Arduino board – a small, inexpensive device that gives you the hardware to control the valve.

I’m at the stage where I have the box and the associated program running and operating the valve as required – but I repeat, it is basic. All it will do at present is to open the valve long enough to produce a single droplet of water. At least, I’m hoping that’s what it will do once I have sorted out the plumbing. I need to feed water into the top of the vale in some controlled way – and that’s where I am at the moment. It seems that I have to put basic electronics to one side for a while and begin a new battle with leaking joints and wet work surfaces.

All I wanted to be was a photographer. I could become the local odd-job-man at this rate! I just hope none of what’s coming next involves brick laying!

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of what I have produced.

Arduino -1

Arduino -2
A word of explanation

1 – the Arduino board
2 – the 12v solenoid valve ( what it’s all about, really! )
3 – 12v supply for the solenoid
4 – the BDX 33 transistor
5- the radio frequencies for London VOLMET and Stanstead ATIS

6 – the USB power supply for the Arduino board, and how the program is downloaded from the computer to the board
7 – switch to operate the valve
8 – red LED to show that the system is armed and waiting to go 9 – green LED to show that the system has triggered the valve.

I’ll update you as I sort out the plumbing issues and then hopefully produce some pictures to show something for all of the hard work!!
Of course, I’m still not fully independent of PhotoTrigger. that will still be used in the taking of the final images, probably by firing the strobes when the water droplets break a laser beam.

Stick around. It could get interesting.
Or on the other hand …….


2 thoughts on “Water Droplets & Electronics

  1. Hi

    You are very kind! 🙂 And I hope your interest is not dashed as I move to the next stage and try to actually take some photographs. I spent most of this afternoon in my ( cold, very cold ) garage, trying to work out the timings for all of this.

    So again, thank you – I’ll try and keep you updated.


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