Rocketry Electronics


The camera in AYUCR II is controlled by a self-contained controller circuit based on a Microchip PIC12CE673 microcontroller.It is much more advanced and flexible than the controller used in AYUCR I. This page provides an overview of the features of this controller including pictures of the working model and its features.

This new controller is designed to overcome some of the limitations of my previous design. With the previous design once powered up the controller would keep taking pictures until powered down. This would use up an entire roll of film on each flight. Some flights weren't long enough to use a whole roll so I would end up with a bunch of pictures taken on the ground. This costs money in developing and printing costs. The other thing I worried about is the controller continuing to "depress" the shutter release even after the last picture was taken and the film rewound. I never had problems with multiple exposures but the depressing of the shutter release kept the camera "awake" and used up the batteries in the camera faster. With the new controller both problems have been overcome. If you only want to take halp a roll of film per flight you can. If you just want liftoff pictures you can do it. If you only want a few pictures taken at apogee fine too.

The controller is self-contained using a built-in G-Switch and its own power source. This eliminates the need for the Adept ASA3T to detect liftoff and provide power used in the previous design. This simplifies wiring and saves some weight. To program the unit's flight parameters you can connect it to the serial port on a computer (2400 baud 8N1) and send it an 8 byte data packet. It keeps the flight parameters in non-volitile EEPROM memory so the program stays put even if the unit is powered off. I use a Palm Pilot to field-program the unit using the same cabling setup as my ALTACC software but any computer will do. It can be programmed at home and taken to the field. If you need to change the program at the field and you don't have a laptop or Palm the controller supports a simple user interface using the G-Switch for inputs and the LED for use feedback.

Recent enhancements to the firmware allow for servo control to mechanically trip shutters on SLR or digital cameras so that opening them up and modifying them is not required.

Kits for the AYUCR Camera Controller are available. These kits are complete and require only basic soldering skills.

A new controller, the AYUCR Pencam Controller, is now available. This controller interfaces with the Aiptek Pencam type digital cameras and allows you to turn them into rocketcams. The controller is upgradable and other digital cameras may be supported in the future. What's best is this project is open source. All source code, circuit layouts and schematics are available for download.


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