Shutter Speed testing using Sound Card

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by DarkroomExperimente, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    I read somewhere online that one way to test shutter speed is to hook a mike up to your computer's sound card. The computer hears the "click" of the shutter opening...then the "click" when it closes. You just use audio software to plot a graph of the sound and you measure the time between clicks.

    SO...I have a mike..I have a sound input on my computer...

    BUT I don't have software that will make the kind of graph that will allow me to measure the time interval between clicks.

    does anyone know of software that will do this that can be downloaded free?
     
  2. RobC

    RobC Member

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    google "Audacity"
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think you can download Audacity for free. Google it, and it should turn up.

    There are a couple of variations on this theme. One is just to use a microphone, and I've done this, and it works for some kinds of shutters, as long as you understand how the shutter works and can interpret the peaks in the waveform. Some shutters have too many noises going on to separate out the different events happening during the exposure. First test a slow or B exposure to see what opening and closing look like.

    Another variation is to use a photocell with a simple amplifier circuit plugged into a sound card. This measures light, so it should be easier to interpret with any shutter. I've seen one or two schematics for this sort of device on the net.
     
  4. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    thanks!

    just downloaded it..I'll experiment with it later

    I can see how this won't work for all shutters, so the photocell trick might be fun to try...too bad I got rid of most of my electronics stuff...but I think I have enough parts to make a photocell circuit

    the shutter I need to test is on a 100+ year old 4x5 with a Unicum shutter...it works fine in "T" mode, sometimes in "B"....all other speeds seem to be the same

    now that I'm thinking about this...the photocell trick would be great for any homemade shutters I make
     
  5. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    Does Calumet still sell the small shutter tester?
     
  6. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Robert,

    I think the shutter tester is still available; I bought one a year or two ago.

    Konical
     
  7. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    Hi Konical, I also bought one about three years ago but I just went to their site and typed in shutter tester and nothing came up. Robert
     
  8. Robert Kerwin

    Robert Kerwin Member

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    I built a tester using a phototransitor similar to the one on this page:

    http://www.davidrichert.com/sound_card_shutter_tester.htm

    It was surprisingly accurate and easy to build (I'm no expert at circuit building). If you Google "sound card shutter speed tester" you'll get lots of results and schematics, but basically the main components are a battery, switch, phototransistor, resistor and a cord with a 3.5mm plug at one end.
     
  9. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    pretty cool...

    I was thinking I'd try this method:

    I have (somewhere) a small radio shack speaker with amplifier...I once hooked it up to a photocell to listen to 60 cycle hum (yes, incandescent lightbulbs DO hum...just less than fluorescent)...

    so I was thinking I'd just put the mike next to the speaker...and when the mike hears the hum --that's my signal
     
  10. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    For Mac users: the bundled Garage Band, using the inbuilt microphone. I guess that you could pull in a few loops and make a hit song, too. Although I suspect that only camera- (read "train-") spotters would be impressed.

    Regards - Ross