About this project
Triggertrap Ada is one of the fastest, easiest to use, and most affordable high-speed flash- and camera triggers money can't yet buy. With your help, this Kickstarter campaign will change the 'money can't buy' side of things.
Triggertrap Ada uses interchangeable sensor modules that you can snap on when you need them, and tuck away in your camera bag when you don't. It has three outputs, so you can hook up three cameras, three flashes, or a combination of both. Powered by two AA batteries, it can keep your timelapse running for months.
Triggertrap Ada is modular, so you can build your own perfect triggering solution. Capturing wildlife? Snap on the PIR sensor. Want to catch a speeding bullet in flight? You’ll need the Ada laser module. Creating a timelapse of a huge DIY project over a long period of time? Triggertrap Ada has you covered.
For our Kickstarter campaign, we are launching with four amazing sensors. You can combine them for triggering from multiple sources, or use them separately for specific projects. You can connect as many sensors as you like at the same time.
In addition to the three outputs - for connecting cameras, flashes and just about anything else you can think of - it also has a special connector allowing it to talk to the bestselling Triggertrap Mobile App for iOS and Android. Oh, and a Micro USB socket, for powering Triggertrap Ada, and for installing exciting software updates.
NEW - STRETCH GOALS!
£100,000 - High-visibility markings to make Ada sensors easy to identify in dark studio settings (as announced in Backer Update #2)
£150,000 - Ada will include a lanyard for more flexibility (Backer Update #2)
£200,000 - Triggertrap Ada Top Level Backer kit will include an additional sensor of your choice (see Backer Update #4) AND all Ada kits will include an interconnect cable, to enable users to use the sensors away from the main Ada unit. (see Backer Update #5)
£250,000 - If the Triggertrap Ada Kickstarter reaches £250,000, we will include a Triggertrap Mobile to Triggertrap Ada connection cable in the box with your Ada! (see Backer Update #5)
You may have seen us on Kickstarter before - about two years ago, in fact. Back then, we were hugely humbled by your support, and by your willingness to back our Triggertrap v1 with three times more funding than we were asking for.
We like to think we've put the extra money to good use. First, we developed the Triggertrap Mobile Dongle, and the Triggertrap Mobile apps for iOS and Android. The hardware is very affordable and the apps are free. They also just went through a big refresh; take a look!
Introducing Triggertrap Ada
We’ve come a long way in the past two years. Back in the deep mists of time, when faery tale creatures still roamed the green lands of Britain (so, er, 2011), there was just Haje, armed with an idea and and a Kickstarter campaign. Today, Triggertrap's crew roster has seven names on it, and we work with a small platoon of freelancers and contractors to create the best camera triggers the world has ever seen.
For our original hardware product, the Triggertrap v1, we tried putting all the functionality into a single box. That sort of worked, but it turned out that many photographers have varying requirements. Some photographers will use a laser trigger, but won’t ever consider using a sound trigger. Others just want timelapses. And others again want to be able to do things that the trigger was never designed to do.
We set ourselves a challenge: What would we change about Triggertrap v1 to make it a hundred times better? It took us a while, but we now have the answer to that challenge: Triggertrap Ada.
By using a platform where you connect only the sensors you need for that shoot, you can completely customise your camera triggering workflow.
We’re pretty excited about how flexible the sensor solutions are, of course, but the Triggertrap Ada base block is no weakling either, and it has lots of triggering modes built in:
A timelapse mode that can run for bloody ages* on a single set of AA batteries
Triggertrap's world-exclusive TimeWarp mode, as seen on Triggertrap Mobile, enabling photographers to create timelapses with acceleration
HDR photography mode, which lets photographers take long-exposure HDR sets.
A Star Trail mode, enabling extreme exposure photography with minimum visual noise
What’s this about sensors?
At launch, Triggertrap Ada will be available with four different sensor blocks. They are:
High Speed Laser Sensor - with this sensor, you’ll be able to trigger your camera or flash at ridiculously high speeds. For example, with Ada's reaction time of under 60 microseconds*, a typical bullet only has the time to fly 24 millimetres between breaking the laser beam and your flash capturing it in flight. The Laser unit comes with both a laser and a sensor built in, and it’s even clever enough to turn itself off when it’s triggering the camera, so you don’t risk capturing the laser beam in your photos!
High Speed Sound Sensor - the sound sensor is perfect for capturing popping balloons, things smashing into stuff, and all manner of other cool, destructive projects. The only limit is your imagination (plus perhaps your cleaning budget).
High Speed Light Sensor - If you’ve ever tried to take a perfect photo of a lightning storm, you know how hard it can be to get the timing right. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a sensor that stays on the lookout for the next lightning strike? You're in luck, with Triggertrap Ada, you can!
Passive Infrared Sensor - Like a common household burglar alarm, the Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor doesn’t use a beam (hence the ‘passive’ thing), so it’s completely invisible - perfect for capturing sneaky photos whenever the sensor detects movement. Set it up out in nature to capture tigers, and lions, and bears (oh my!), but don’t let ‘wildlife’ limit your imagination. The PIR sensor can be used to shoot everything that moves: doors opening, cars driving by, and even kittens chasing butterflies (awwwww).
The sensors are powered by the two AA batteries in Ada, and can be hooked up either by snapping them into place, or by wiring them together with a special connection cable.
One of the most powerful features of Triggertrap Ada is the ability to use multiple sensors.
Combining different sensors: You will be able to use two different sensors at once. For example, you can set Triggertrap Ada up to only trigger when the light sensor detects that it's daytime, and when the sound sensor hears a noise).
Crossed-beam sensors: The other option is to use multiples of the same sensor. Imagine a crossed laser beam sensor, for example: By only triggering when two crossed laser-beams are broken, you can accurately determine the location of a moving object in three-dimensional space.
Advanced triggering modes
And if all of that isn't enough for you, how about getting really advanced?
For high speed photography - which this device is obviously fantastic for - you would usually take photos in a darkened studio. To make this process easier, we're introducing shutter cycling. If you're trying to capture when an egg is hit with an air-rifle pellet, for example, you'll want to man the air rifle yourself - but you don't want to be running back and forth between the camera and the air rifle. Shutter cycling fixes that.
In shutter cycling mode, you set your camera to Bulb mode, and Ada simply opens the shutter for five seconds (the duration is adjustable, of course), then closes and re-opens it again. Yes, you'll end up with a lot of dark photos, but your camera is always ready to capture the flash when it happens -- and when the flash is triggered (for example, when the pellet crosses the laser beam), Ada ends the exposure for you. Perfect for repeatable, super high speed photography!
We should also mention that all the sensors can work together (in 'and' mode), or separately (in 'or' mode). In other words, you can set up the sensors so it triggers the camera when all the sensors are triggered, or if any of the sensors are triggered. You may want to use the latter if you're setting up a camera trap by a watering hole, for example - set up three laser sensors in a triangle around your target. When any of the laser beams are broken, your camera triggers.
Camera traps & wildlife photography
Filmmakers from all over the world already love Triggertrap, and no wonder; we create some of the best tools available to shoot gorgeous timelapses (hell, we love timelapse photography so much we even created Primelapse, a website celebrating the world's best timelapses!).
Build the camera trap of your dreams by mixing and matching laser tripwires and PIR motion sensors. Go nocturnal by adding the light sensor into the mix, or use the built-in clock to only trigger during certain hours of the day and night. But why stop there? Using the multiple camera outputs, you can set up two cameras, one for daytime and one for IR filming at night. Triggertrap can seamlessly switch between them as the sun sets.
Sound good? Yeah, that's what the guys we are talking to at the BBC said, too. We think no wildlife filmmaker will want to want to venture into the field without Ada in their photographic arsenal.
Integration with Triggertrap Mobile
Our Triggertrap Mobile apps have been downloaded more than half a million times, and we'd be crazy if we didn't integrate Triggertrap Ada with our mobile apps... So that's the plan!
You'll be able to use the Triggertrap Mobile app as a sensor for Triggertrap Ada, and you'll be able to trigger the Triggertrap Mobile app from Ada, too. Obviously, your smartphone is not nearly as fast as Ada, but you'll still be able to do some pretty cool stuff:
Use Peekaboo on Triggertrap Mobile to add facial recognition triggering to Ada
- Using the PIR sensor to start the video rolling on your phone
Use the Laser sensor and the Wi-Fi mode to trigger 100 cameras at the same time when a laser beam is broken (if you have access to 100 cameras, that is. Perhaps you've just completed a daring heist? If you are planning a heist, you should totally timelapse it.)
- Use your phone to beam a preview of any images captured straight to you, wherever you are in the world.
We haven't started work on the Triggertrap Ada mobile integration yet, but the hardware is ready for it - so stay tuned to our backer updates to see what we come up with to help make Ada and Triggertrap Mobile best buddies!
What's in each backer level?
We had a few questions from people who would like a better overview of what was in which backer level... So we made you a handy graphic!
What about future sensors?
That’s where you guys come in. We have big plans, and a ton of cool ideas for amazingly ambitious triggering sensors and integrations.
Hooking up Ada to a motion rail for dynamic timelapses? Why not. Using Ada to control a solenoid for perfect, repeatable droplet photography? Hell yes. Add a high-speed pressure sensor? Add a sensor that starts a timelapse sequence only when a lightning storm is nearer than 10 kilometers? Trigger the camera when someone tweets about your Kickstarter project? Yes, yes, and yes. We love it.
We’re itching to build you an array of amazing additional sensors, but we need your help to choose which ones: if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past two years, it’s that our customers have even more vivid imaginations than we do! The question is: How do you want to use Ada to trigger your camera?
We have launched a new discussion board on the Triggertrap forums where we’re taking suggestions.
Talk geeky to me, baby.
We've been trying to keep this Kickstarter page as geeky-numbers-free as we could, but let's be honest, if you've read this far, then you're looking for some cold, hard stats. We get it.
Triggertrap Ada is Fast. We know that from our testing. Right at this very moment, the laser sensor itself is brutally quick. It can send a signal to Ada in under 15 microseconds. (That's around 1/65000 seconds, or around 16 times faster than the fastest shutter speed on a high-end SLR camera). From there, we have some processing delays in Ada, but we're still able to send a trigger signal to a flash in between 20 and 40 microseconds, which means that the total time from beam break to sending a signal to a flash is between 35 and 55 microseconds.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is really, really fast. For comparison, Triggertrap v1 was very fast, too, but had an approximate delay from beam break to trigger of 1500 microseconds. Put differently: Triggertrap Ada is around 30 times faster than Triggertrap v1, and around 100 times faster than Triggertrap Mobile... and that is before we've optimised anything.
Triggertrap Ada is really good on battery consumption. So far, the focus has been on speed, but we want Ada to be a really good high speed and low speed device. In other words, the goal is to be able to leave your Triggertrap Ada on location for a long period of time, for very long-term timelapse projects, for example. To achieve that, our electronics wizards are working on a 'deep sleep' mode, which means that for modes where speed isn't a consideration, the device can turn itself off most of the time. The initial estimates they've come up with is that the battery life in deep sleep mode should fall somewhere around 5000 days. Realistically, your batteries will die of boredom before they run out. The challenge becomes making sure that the device wakes itself up often enough to ensure that you don't miss a shot, but gets enough beauty sleep to last as long as possible.
* So, here's our tiny disclaimer: We know that our battery life is Good and getting Better. And we know our trigger is Fast and getting Faster. But you've caught us in the tail-end of the prototyping process, which is where the engineers are going to squirrel themselves away to do all their optimisations. Put simply, we can't guarantee exactly how fast this baby is going to get by the time it ships - but keep an eye out on the Backer Updates, because we know many of you do care about the precise numbers!
Meet the Team
Matt Kane (Twitter / GitHub / LinkedIn) is the head honcho of everything tech at Triggertrap. He originally joined to help Triggertrap Mobile magic happen, but now looks after all our awesome tech projects. A serial entrepreneur, Matt has been creating photography tools for more than a decade, starting with one of the first Quicktime VR photo stitchers available!
On Ada, the list of things Matt didn't do is a lot shorter than the list of things he did do. He's been working with all our amazing suppliers in the relentless pursuit of turning a great idea into a great product!
Mat Rodger (Twitter / LinkedIn) is Triggertrap's operations manager. In short, that means that he keeps the torrent of parcels flowing from our manufacturing facility in China, via our international distribution warehouses, to our customer's mailboxes. With thousands of new Triggertrap customers every month, he's a busy, busy bee.
Before Triggertrap, Mat was working for a major book publisher, ensuring that their warehouses were well stocked at all times.
On Ada, Mat put together our Kickstarter campaign, but his biggest job is yet to come: As soon as we enter the production phase, Mat'll be donning his superhero cape and ensuring that the manufacturing, testing, and shipping process runs smoothly.
Thomas Langley (Portfolio / LinkedIn) was one of the star students on the Photography and Digital Imaging course at the University of Westminster, where he focused on experimental photography techniques. When he's not working as a wedding and experimental photographer, he's at Triggertrap, working as our (relatively) tame photography wizard.
For Ada, Thomas is spending every waking hour locked in a photo studio, working as our early alpha tester. He's exploring new techniques, and helping guide the design and features of the Ada, so the final product is, well, have we over-used the word 'awesome' yet? No? Well, it'll be awesome, then.
Haje Jan Kamps (Twitter / Flickr / LinkedIn) was the inventor of the original Triggertrap v1. He's a gadget and photography nerd extraordinaire. Before he started Triggertrap, he was the editor of gadget blog T3.com, and a Senior Producer for Channel 5, working on The Gadget Show and Fifth Gear. After his career in the media, he started writing about photography seriously, and has since published a whole heap of books on the subject.
On the Ada project, Haje works closely with Matt and Thomas to help craft the finest high speed camera trigger the world has ever seen.
How did we get here?
We've been working on Triggertrap Ada on the sly for a long time now, and we've invested a lot of money into it. We've gotten it to a point that we're ready to take it to production.
The idea for Triggertrap Ada was born from watching how people were using the Triggertrap v1 and the feedback we received. We wanted to build a device that was faster, more flexible, easier to use and more affordable. We plied dozens of photographers and film-makers with coffee and beer to find what they thought would make the perfect camera trigger. This is what led us to the idea of a modular design. This enables photographers to build the perfect trigger them.
The solution was a combined system: the sensors can physically attach to each other, but can also be connected with cables, or a combination of the two. Our other criterion was that we should be able to easily add new sensor types without needing to update Ada's software.
At this point we took our ideas and sketches and started talking to industrial designers. James Lamb immediately understood our vision and developed a series of concepts. The chosen design was inspired by the feel of an SLR camera, and includes a reassuring quarter-turn snap connection between blocks.
Now that we had a good idea of what functionality we wanted, and what we wanted the outside to look like, we started looking at the inside. For the electronics, we worked with Cubik Innovation to produce a design that is extremely high speed, low power, and flexible enough to support the variety of configurations that the stackable sensors support. It is important to us that Ada is Arduino-based, as we are strong believers in open source, and want the software to be as easy as possible for users to modify. Having said that, our main focus is to make Ada the perfect camera trigger - if you can figure out how to use your SLR camera, you will find Ada a breeze.
With our initial designs of the enclosures and electronics ready, we moved onto the first prototypes. It was very important that the snap connection worked well, which meant we needed prototypes that were made to high tolerances in material that was robust enough to handle being repeatedly connected and disconnected. The giant laser sintering machines at the University of Exeter's Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing were perfect for the job. These prototypes confirmed that the connector is both rock-solid and a delight to use.
Cubik manufactured the PCB assemblies in their own, oddly alluring prototyping lab in Bristol and we soon had our first complete prototypes. Testing these led us to another round of design revisions in both the enclosures and electronics which produced the working prototypes that feature in the video. This gave us enough information to start talking to factories and other suppliers and getting quotes. Then the real fun started, as many balloons, Coke bottles and garden gnomes met their demise in the name of science (and awesome photos, of course). This is the point where we could finally confirm that Triggertrap Ada is as amazing as we hoped it would be - and, most importantly, so are the photos that it can help us take.
The final stage of this round of prototyping are the beautiful prototypes that you can see in the photos. The powdery-white laser-sintered models that we'd used in testing are pretty cool, but they pick up dirt like a silk wedding dress in a coal mine. We wanted to have prototypes that look and feel like the final products that we will be shipping to our backers. For this we took another set of laser-sintered cases and had them hand-finished. This was done by Amalgam Modelmaking, a company best known for its work with fellow Bristol superstars Aardman Animations, building sets and models for Oscar-winning movies such as Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. They took on the job of spraying, hand painting and finishing the surface of the prototypes so that they're as close as we can get them to the final production Ada devices.
What happens next?
We are still making revisions and improvements to the electronics and enclosures, with a design freeze planned for the end of the Kickstarter campaign. As soon as the campaign finishes we will place the order for the “looks like/works like” prototypes. These will be vacuum cast, a process that means they will be virtually indistinguishable from the final product and will contain the same electronics as the units that we will ship. These will be sent to a select group of photographers be able to use in the wild in December and January. If you back us at the highest level one of these will be you. This will help us finalise the first version of the software. These prototypes will also be used for FCC and CE testing.
After that, well, it's go time.
Once we know the volumes we will be building in the first batch we will be able to get final quotes from manufacturers. The manufacture and tooling will be interrupted by the Chinese New Year, but we estimate that it will be complete by March. Testing of the electronics will take place during manufacture, but will be completed after the units are fully assembled. We will supervise this on the ground, both in person and through our agents in Hong Kong.
We are currently working with experienced structural packaging designers to develop boxes that can be mailed directly without additional packaging. The idea is to try and design the packaging so it can fit through standard-sized letterboxes for easy and cheap delivery. The packaging design process, including drop testing of prototypes, is planned to be complete by January. The packaging will then be manufactured in China. The assembly of the different kits will be done by our existing logistics partners in Hong Kong, who will also manage the distribution to you, our lovely backers. We have worked with them since we first launched Triggertrap Mobile, and they have shipped many tens of thousands of packages for us. They have also handled distribution for some of the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time, so they know how to shift a box or two.
Our current plan is to ship directly from warehouses in the USA and Europe, with other areas covered by the central warehouse in Hong Kong.
Our target is for the packages to be in your hands by May 2014, but we'll keep you up to date every step of the way.
You mentioned open source?
Triggertrap Ada is a powerful photography tool for serious photographers; but the Triggertrap crew are still photography geeks at heart, and we love being able to adapt our equipment to our needs.
Triggertrap Ada does everything most photographers could possibly dream of right out of the box... But if you're one of those out-of-the-box thinkers, we've got a very special ace up our sleeves for you: Once we’ve started shipping, we’ll publish the source code on GitHub, and you’ll be able to add, amend, and tune Triggertrap Ada to your heart’s content. We want this to be as easy as possible, so the plan is to make Triggertrap Ada Arduino Compatible. Plug in the USB cable, fire up the Github, and make yourself a strong cup of coffee. Woo, and indeed, hoo!
Specifically, Ada's source-code will be available under the GPLv3 licence.
But... I can't wait!
We know, it's awesomely exciting, right?! If you can't wait to get your hands on some Triggertrap kit, back this project, and look at the very first (backer-only) update.
It will contain a 10% discount code for the Triggertrap shop, valid for the duration of the Kickstarter project, so you can start playing with timelapses, sound triggering and all the other fun features in our Triggertrap Mobile product whilst we beaver away, getting Triggertrap Ada into production!
Big thanks to...
We've already mentioned our awesome team at Triggertrap who were heavily involved in getting the Ada product thus far - but there's more of us! Team Triggertrap also consists of Helena Vieira, our ever-so-fantastic Head of Happiness. She's the one who rushes to your assistance when you e-mail us. The final two people who'll be playing a big role towards the end of the development phase are our mobile software virtuosos Neil Davies and Ross Gibson, who are the masters of all things Android and iOS, respectively.
The list of Awesome People That Rule wouldn't be complete without mentioning our industrial designer James Lamb from Lamb Industries, along with the electronics wizards Paul Mullen and Chase Callender at Cubik Innovation.
Next, we'd like to doff our caps to Andrew Daffy of House of Curves, who was immensely helpful both in giving early feedback on the project, and for appearing in our video. Sy Stepanov (web / Vimeo) used Triggertrap products to create some of the amazing timelapses we showed off in our video. Also, a deep bow to William Walsh, who leapt into the breach at the last minute to shoot and edit our Kickstarter video for us.
We've saved our biggest and most important thanks for last: You, our Kickstarter backers. Without you, Triggertrap wouldn't exist. A most delighted and sincere thank you. Thank you for believing in us. Stay awesome.
Risks and challenges
We're not new to this - and having previously taken a project successfully through Kickstarter, we are very aware of the numerous risks and challenges that creators face.
Ada is already at late stage in the development process, and we are working with experienced industrial designers and electronic engineers to help mitigate risk. As a company we have experience in manufacturing electronics in China, as well as the logistics involved in shipping to our tens of thousands of existing customers around the world.
That said, all projects face risks and challenges. These are some of the blips on our risk radar:
FCC and CE testing. The devices have been developed to meet the emissions criteria for both FCC and CE marking, but until the final prototype is complete we will not be able to do the actual testing. This may mean we need additional revisions to the electronics to pass the tests, which could cause delays.
Sourcing. We have several quotes from manufacturers, but until we know how successful this Kickstarter project is, we can’t get final costings and finalise our negotiations with the manufacturers.
Manufacture. We have extensive experience in manufacturing products in China: both our first Kickstarter products and our popular Triggertrap Mobile Dongle are manufactured there. However, manufacturing in the Far East isn't without risks. One key challenge is quality control. For Ada, we are producing fixtures that will extensively test the devices as they are manufactured. As manufacturing starts we will keep a very close eye on quality, both in person, and through experienced QC inspectors.
Finally, we promise to keep you guys in the loop every step of the way, so you know how we are getting on!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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