Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Nikon D Series Lightning Trigger with Arduino

Lightning picture

Taken from inside garage

I wanted to make a lightning trigger for the D40 camera to capture some of nature’s most beautiful displays. I also thought it would interesting to capture some fireworks this 4th of July. So off to google I went. I saw several projects that pointed me in the right direction but I needed to get them all together. I started out with the code required to activate the  remote shutter for the Nikon. I found some code here: Thing-a-Day Site(code didn’t work) . The code on the page had some issues compiling. I then followed the replies  and I saw a poster with his own code that links to I followed the link that the code at (code that worked) looked very elegant and complete. So i decided to try it. It worked, and as advertised, every ten seconds it triggered the Nikon.  The only thing needed was to add the detector mechanism.

Lightning Detector:
**VERY IMPORTANT** For lightning safety visit: NWS Lightning Safety

I found a simple schematic to actually capture the sudden flash in light at this site. The schematic was simple and easy to build. They used a wired trigger for the Canon 3OD.  For this project I am adapting it to trigger the Nikon D40 using the infrared transmitter.

Parts List

1 – 220 Ohm resistor (IR LED Current Limiter)

1 – 100k Ohm resistor (for Photoresistor)

1- Arduino (Purchase an Arduino: Modern Devices, Spark Fun, adafruit)

1 – Photoresistor (recommended) or Phototransistor

1 – Green or Red LED (Triggering Status LED)

1 – Potentiometer (optional if you use Version 1.1)


Use the schematics below to wire the detector and IR Transmitter to the arduino. There are two versions available, one with an adjustable trigger setting and one that you can hard set in the code.

NOTE: You can modify the TRIGGER_THRESHHOLD value to get the best results for your situation.  You can also add a delay to tweak the actual follow-on shots.

Camera Setup

To setup the Nikon you must go to Menu; Custom Setting Menu; Release Mode; Change to Quick Repsonse Remote. You must then Change the Remote on Duration setting, it can be setup up to 15 minutes.

The code below is complete. No additional libraries are necassary.

Version 1.0:

Important: If you want to add a potentiometer to change the value of the TRIGGER_THRESHOLD use the below links for the PDE file and schematic

Version 1.1:

Thanks to Aurelien Antoine and Maurice Ribble!!

Project Pictures

(Includes submissions from other hobbyists)

Credit given below each image


Dell PowerEdge Server Administration – Using Dell OpenManage Server Administrator

Dell PowerEdge Server Administration – Using Dell OpenManage Server Administrator

Important Links

Dell’s OpenManagement server administration tool is a powerful hardware monitoring and reporting tool. You are able to view virtually all of the hardware and bios information with a few simple commands.

I use it to collect system information and keep track of installed hardware and the current state of the hardware.

For example if you want to know how many physical disks are installed and what their capacities are you can type the command at the command prompt:

>omreport storage pdisk controller=0 (Change to 1 if you want to view the second controller)

and what virtual RAID containers are on the server

> omreport storage vdisk controller=0 (Change to 1 if you want to view the second controller)

To view a summary of the Server you type

>omreport system summary

View Chassis temperatures:

>omreport chassis temps

These commands will display the results in the console window but that is not very useful when filing for future reference. To send these commands to a file you would:

>omreport system summary -fmt cdv -outc Summary.csv

This will output the file in a semi-colon delimited file, which is not every excel friendly. To change it to a comma delimited file you must first type:

>omconfig preferences cdvformat delimiter=comma

Any files outputted with a –fmt cdv will then be delimited by a comma, which can be directly opened with excel without having to import data and manually selecting semi-colon as the delimiter.

These are just a few example of the Open Manage Server Administrators reporting and configuration tool. It is a powerful tool that will help you keep track of any server information or changes performed on the server.

To make my life easier (and hopefully yours) I have created a menu driven tool that will automatically run a most reports. I use this tool to run reports on all my dell servers and archive them to a secure share. This helps with any support issues or track hardware changes performed on the servers. I would recommend that this be performed upon the installation of any new server and when any significant hardware changes are made. If you need any help please feel free to post a comment.

MythDora 4.0 and Hauppauge PVR-150 with IR Blaster Support

I wanted to outline a few steps that I had to take to get the IR blaster to work with MythDora. MythDora is my favorite MythTV distro, it is by far the best polished and complete MythTV system that I have found. I was perfectly happy with the setup, that is until I got digital cable. Then the need for the IR Blaster arose. I went as far as making a serial IR blaster that would have worked had I not had Scientific Atlanta Explorer 2200. That is where the search for answers led me to Mark’s Brain Dump. A day later here I am with a working setup. I also wanted to condense the process for others that may be encountering the same issues and/or want to use MythTV but are hesitant because of the digital box. I want to add that the Hauppauge IR Blaster might be the only IR blaster that will operate your digital or satellite box. I found that my serial IR Blaster that I made did not send the codes correctly for my SA 2200. Without any further ado let’s get started: I want to thank the MythDora developers and Mark at “Mark’s Brain Dump” for all the information and PVR-150 package. Without them this would not have been possible. What you’ll need and how to install them:

  1. WinTV PVR-150 (NOT the MCE version) NOTE: There have been some reports that people are receiving a replacement HVR-1600 or HVR-1500 in the PVR-150 box. I bought mine at CircuitCity and had the correct one.
  2. S-Video and/or Composite video cables, Audio cable (RCA to 1/8″ Mini stereo plug) to go from the Digital Receiver to the PVR-150
  3. MythDora 4.0 – Thanks MythDora developers!! Follow the excellent instructions at MythPVR for a step by step install
  4. Mark’s PVR-150 Package – Please follow Mark’s instructions for installation and compiling. You will need the following packages before compiling. Type the following as root before running the ./ from Mark’s package:
    1. yum install dialog
    2. yum install kernel-devel-`uname -r`
    3. yum install gcc
    4. yum install make
  5. Hauppauge PVR-150 Firmware – As root, copy to your /lib/firmware folder
  6. Config Files: Please backup all files before overwriting them in case you have to go back for any reason
    1. script
      1. Remove the .txt extension
      2. Place in your /usr/local/bin folder
      3. Type chmod +x /usr/local/bin/
      4. Point to the file under MythTV Setup; Input Section. Select SVideo put /usr/local/bin/ in the “External Change Channel Command” box
    2. Modified lircd.conf file for the Happauge PVR-150 gray remote and the SA 2200 digital cable box. Rename the downloaded file to lircd.conf, and overwrite the existing /etc/lircd.conf file. Please see Mark’s blog if you have a different satellite or digital box. He explains how to find the proper codes for your box. Use my script as an example for the final script layout however.
    3. Modified lirc file located in /etc/modprobe.d directory. Remove the .txt extension then overwrite the existing /etc/modprobe.d/lirc file
    4. Add these lines to rc.local to the /etc/rc.local file:
    5. Reboot

All files – All the files above in a neat all in one package. Things that can go wrong:

  • Software Installation:
    • lirc_i2c is still being loaded on startup.
      • Solution: Make sure you have performed step # 3 correctly. lirc_i2c usually loads because it is still in the lirc file under /etc/modprobe.d/ directory
    • Permissions are set incorrectly, specifically the execute flag
    • Files are not named correctly or in the wrong location
    • MythTV is not setup correctly
    • Modules are not loading correctly – See Mark\’s website for troubleshooting
    • IR Blaster is trying to use the Serial port
      • Solution – remove any entries in the /etc/modprobe.d/irblaster file, or just comment them out. I made the mistake of setting up irblaster from the MythDora setup screen and it caused me untold grief.
  • Hardware
    • IR Blaster is not located correctly over the digital/satellite box IR Receiver. Use a flashlight to locate it under the front panel on the Digital Box
    • IR Blaster and receiver not fully seated in the PVR-150