March 16, 2010, 9:57 AM — The folks at the HDR Labs have released the Open Camera Controller (OCC), a system that uses an older Nintendo DS handheld to provide more options to photographers seeking to get the most out of their DSLR cameras.
After trying other hardware and firmware hacks for DSLR cameras and finding them unsatisfactory, HDR Labs set out to create their own system and thus was born OCC.
With a battery life of eight hours and sized small enough to fit into your jeans, the fully user-programmable OCC system promises to bring new shooting features and options to the DSLR community. The required hardware (beyond the Nintendo DS) requires some skill with a soldering iron and the Arduino development board. Install a small circuit board and an Atmega microcontroller into a DS game cartridge housing (WarioWare: Twisted is big enough to hold the microcontroller), modify a shutter release cable, program, and start shooting.What's the point of hacking a DSLR to play nice with a handheld gaming console? Most consumer and professional-grade cameras have numerous capabilities that are either difficult or impossible to access: expanded high-dynamic range bracketing, time lapse shooting, and basic scripting for shooting a slew of images. If you own a multi-thousand-dollar camera, shouldn't you be able to program new features and abilities to your DSLR? OCC's range of homebrew software lets you not only control your camera's exposure bracketing, but also trigger the shutter based on sound (clap or yell to take a photo) or a specific interval, and even allows for scripting suitable for astrophotography. An online forum encourages future development of OCC, and there's also a devkit (linked at the bottom of the software page). [HDR Labs via Electronista]