Objective: Take a photograph occasionally (say, once in 4 seconds) and combine the thousands of pictures thus collected into a time lapse video of the drive from California to Michigan.
The camera: Pentax Optio S50 obtained from a Stanford ME grad student ($0).
Former cameras (died in the line of testing): Canon Powershot A510 ($20), and Olympus D560Z (my old camera).
I managed to determine that each of these cameras has a trigger switch with four principal contact points. It is then just a matter of determining which two contacts perform the autofocus function when shorted, and which ones perform the trigger function. The contacts are small and somewhat tedious to solder, but soldering can be done with a good eye and a steady hand.
I will upload pictures of this once I’m at my final destination as I’m understandably reluctant to open the camera now.
Power supply hack:
Once the camera was open, I also managed to drill a few holes and solder some wires directly at the terminals where the batteries connect. With a robust connector one can now be independent of batteries, and use an external power source.
What’s the power source?
More on the power source and trigger timing later…