Archive for the ‘Other Projects’ Category

Introducing the Harley Davidson Toilet Seat

harley davidson toilet seat up

Are you a Harley Davidson owner bored with your toilet seat? You’ve got every other piece of Harley branded merchandise but to really show off that you own a Harley you need the Harley Davidson toilet seat. Sadly, in their infinite wisdom of branding just about everything that they can, Harley have overlooked the humble toilet seat. I mean look at the below image of the toilet, hardly awe inspiring is it?

the old toilet before

No offense every day toilet owners but the prized buttocks of Harley Davidson owners around the world are offended by this above insult, they demand more, so here I am to right this wrong. To paraphrase the band Manowar, every man should be “Sitting in Leather, riding on porcelain”.

Firstly, not being a Harley owner myself, I needed to find out how to make something ‘Harley’ and there’s a few simple steps:

  • Black, orange or white in colour (or combination)
  • Must use as much leather as possible
  • Must feature leather tassles
  • Must have Harley logos on every surface possible
  • If possible should feature a lot of chrome

Easy! Follow the below to build your own authentic Harley toilet seat which is in no way endorsed by Harley themselves and may land me in some trouble…

Parts list:

  • Black toilet seat
  • Leather tassel strip/trimming – about 1 metre in length. (Ebay)
  • 2 sheets of Harley Davidson decals, must feature the Screaming Eagle (Ebay)
  • 2 leather paniers for additional storage on those long toilet journeys – must have tassels and big enough to store toilet roll, trail mix, tools etc… (Ebay)
  • 2 wire coat hangers to help attach the panniers to the toilet bowl
  • Hot glue gun, pliers and cutters

Step One:

Put the Harley logos on the toilet seats and panniers, remember that every side must feature a logo somewhere, even if it’s not visible at first.

I used the largest Screaming Eagle logos on both sides of the toilet seat, a smaller version on each of the panniers and the smallest version for the front of the seat itself.

The basic Harley logos were then added to each end of the pannier.

To apply the decals correctly, first cut around each one in the sheet and then peel back a small area of the backing paper and slowly apply the decal to the surface using something like a cloth to smooth out any air bubbles.

harley davidson toilet seat closed

Step Two:

To add the tassles to the toilet seat, start by finding the centre of the leather tassle trimming and using the hot glue gun add a small blob of glue and stick the tassles in there until it sets, you want to ensure it’s perpendicular to the seat. Work around the tassles every 5cm or so adding another blob to secure it in place.

To finish off now work around the inside of the tassle strips base with a generous amount of hot glue to secure it fully in place (and help keep it in shape).

harley davidson toilet seat open

Step Three:

Now you need to figure out how to attach the panniers to the toilet bowl. I found that by taking a couple of wire hangers I could build some basic hooks that could attach themselves to the rim of the toilet, each toilet is different so it’s trial and error using pliers and cutters to bend and shape the wire.

harley davidson toilet seat up

Step Four:

Locate your nearest Harley Davidson owner and install this masterpiece in their bathroom. Inform them to kiss that snooze-fest of an old toilet seat good bye.

Await the sheer joy and pride that they will surely exhibit and the now overly frequent trips to the toilet that they’ll be sure to make.

the sweet joy of a harley davidson toilet seat owner

Optional Extras:

  • Tassling for the flush handle
  • Handlebars/ mirrors
  • Harley engine sound when flushed
  • More chrome
  • More leather

Unfortunately you’ll have to create your own exhaust sounds, but for that I recommend a healthy amount of sprouts, bran and beans.

If you’re from Harley Davidson, can I have a bike please and in return I’ll build one of these for your showrooms!


I wrote to Harley to introduce them to the concept of awesomeness, turns out they were less than impressed and without a sense of humour. Also turns out that they have so many Harley Davidson toilet submissions that they have a category, I’m waiting to hear back if mine was the best they’ve seen. Below is the email thread for your amusement:


Probably not the best place to mail the idea to, but hopefully it’ll amuse you and bring a smile to your faces.

I thought I would share with you something that I built as a Christmas gift for a friend who’s a Harley Davidson owner (883 I believe, but could be wrong) and already has a wide range of HD merchandise.

After visiting a few of the Harley Davidson shops in Las Vegas recently, I was amazed to see just how many things feature the Harley logo but I sensed there was a gap in the market that has been overlooked.

With that in mind, I feel I have corrected this wrong with an early prototype. You’ll have to excuse it’s crudeness as it still lacks any chrome and the leather is still minimal but I think I’ve added enough Harley logos to it to compensate for this.

The Harley Davidson toilet seat: see the attached photo of the look of joy on the owners face at this gift. That’s right, the toilet seat has leather panniers!

If the joy and excitement of my Harley owner friend of owning this is anything to go by, multiply it by the millions of people world wide who own a toilet and you’ve got yourself a serious opportunity here.

If you’re feeling generous, I would love to own my own Harley and would happily build you one of these seats in return.



(Photo of Kevin looking really happy was included)

Dear Larry,

Thank you for expressing an interest in utilizing the registered trademarks of Harley-Davidson, in conjunction with toilet seats.

Harley-Davidson is unwilling to enter into a license agreement with your company.  We’ve received similar requests in the past, but our current licensing strategy is twofold:  to concentrate on products that we believe further the motorcycle experiences for our current customers and to bring new customers to the brand through relevant products that demonstrate our unique brand attributes and values.  Accordingly, we are unable to consider pursuing a license agreement with your company.

Although this letter is not the response you anticipated, we hope that it does not in any way reduce your enthusiasm for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. 

Thank you for considering Harley-Davidson.
Harley-Davidson General Merchandise – Licensing

Thanks for the quick response, however I think you misunderstood my intent.

It was purely to show what I made as a joke gift and may be make you smile. In my email I mentioned nothing about being a company, licensing etc… But it’s nice that you think I’m capable of that level of commitment and thought.

Forgive my questioning but I’m interested in the bit where you write that your strategy is to “concentrate on products that we believe further motorcycle experiences”… If you don’t mind me asking, how does a licensed Harley branded popcorn machine, oil can party lights or salt & pepper shakers further the riding experience?

Not to push the point, but, with my toilet seat you can at least pretend you’re riding something and let the imagination wander as you make the sweet, sweet sounds of a Harley during your bathroom break. It was the lack of chrome wasn’t it? I knew that would be an amateur mistake.

Anyway, it’s good to know you at least got the mail and you were correct about it not being the response I anticipated, I was hoping for something along the lines of high fives being thrown up and free bikes being given out. The offer still stands if you would like one sent to your offices.

I thought the look of ultimate joy on my friends face surely enchanced his Harley experience, trouble is I think he’s now spending more time on the toilet than on the Harley now.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my nonsense,


(No reply received)

Dear Larry:

Your recent message has been forwarded to me for possible further comment.

Your enthusiasm for our brand is terrific!  And, we hope your friend enjoys your gift.  However, we need to make sure you understand that without a written trademark license directly from Harley-Davidson, you cannot produce more of these for selling purposes.  FYI, there have been a number of others who have decided to go ahead with “Harley-Davidson” toilet seats without our permission, and so we keep a close watch on that category.


Hi Judy,

There’s no intention of producing these for sale, it’s only for a fun one off as a gift. I use the term ‘prototype’ in the loosest possible sense of the word, if I was serious I would have spent time adding in chrome as well as more leather and possibly a custom toilet basin based on the classic V engine, which you have to admit does sound pretty sweet.

Anyway, I didn’t realise that so many people actually take it that seriously to build Harley Davidson toilet seats for sale and that you have so many genuine submissions. I hope that mine is one of the best toilet seats you’ve seen in a while (if you saw the pictures or link in the original mail). My friend Kevin thought so, but he’s not been seen since – he’s been spending too much time in the bathroom now by all accounts but luckily my toilet seat features panniers on either side to store trail mix etc… so he should be ok.



(No reply received)

So far there has been no offers of free Harleys or congratulations given for making awesomeness personified in a toilet seat. I still think I should have added in more chrome and leather to get their attention. Maybe a few more logos as well…

Easy way to make Photo Canvas Box Frames

box frames

I like the idea of having canvas photo prints on the wall but I also have enough of an ego to think that I can take a photo good enough to warrant printing my own canvas. Also I think it’s a bit more personal too when it’s your own photo/ art.

I take alot of photos and never do anything with them, I always think about framing but to get the benefits you need to print big or do a series of panels, which is what I’ll be showing how to do along with a bit of printer/ photoshop advice. Just so you know Photoshop CS3 has some excellent tools for stitching photos together to make panoramas.

There are alot of shops that will print and box frame your photos on canvas for you and you can get canvas framing kits to help, so no worries if you don’t have a capable printer, it will probably just cost a bit more. I genuinely think anything over A3 you’ll want to pay to get printed anyway – because I doubt you’ll want to spend £1,000+ on an A2+ printer just to print one picture.

However, I am lucky enough to have worked for Epson so I own a Stylus Photo R1900. It’s fairly cheap I guess for what it can do but it’s limited to A3, so its just on the edge of the realm of large format printers. But doing your own framing is only cheap if you already have the printer – I doubt any decent shop will charge you more than £25 per A3 canvas print so don’t buy a printer specifically to do one print!

The right printer, media and ink

Whether using Epson printers or not to print canvas you need a decent printer and it’s all about the type of inks used, your average inkjet ink won’t stick to canvas and you need a printer that can also deal with thicker media and roll feeds. The R1900 can do that and it’s the cheapest one that you can get from Epson (around £400) – also look for the R1800, R2400 and R2880 as good ones to try. I would recommend the R800 but the smallest canvas roll you can get is A3 (13inches/ 330mm wide), there is a cheaper A3 one, the 1400 but don’t bother as its inks  (Claria) will just flake off canvas. Not sure about whats out there from Canon, HP etc… but I guess what I’m saying is check what your printer can do any decent manufacturer or shop should do you a test sample regardless.

Ok so you got the printer, now remember that I have worked for Epson, so please take what  I say as slightly biased and with a pinch of salt: Get the genuine Epson ink and media! (or the equivalent for your printer). You will honestly see the difference, in the case of the Epson stuff all the media is coated specifically for the inks and printer, so cheaper non-Epson paper/ canvas won’t work as well and you’ll see prints fade, smudge, chip off and blur – same for HP, Canon etc… If you use refills on these inkjets you’ll see the same kind of thing but you’ll also jam up your print heads – its the biggest cause of issues with the photo printers – that and continous ink feed systems. So if you use the shitty materials for this then expect the shitty results that’ll follow!

For the R1900 you’re talking about £95 for a full set of inks and £35-40 for the canvas roll. The £140 media outlay might seem high but this will let you do around 12 A3 panels, so works out about £10 per A3 panel with plenty of ink to spare to do other stuff, if like me you do A4 panels then I’ll easily get 20 on a roll – either way using this stuff is going to get you good results, even on auto settings. My only gripe with the R1900 is that it cains the inks so you have to be sure not to waste any prints – if I could, I would have the R2400/R2880.

Anyway so you get the idea: good printer, good media, good ink. Or just get your canvas printed by someone else – I’ll do it for you if you pay for the ink, media and postage!

Making the frames

Now you can spend some money and buy the wood, glue, tools etc… to make your own frames but you can get frames for around £2-3 for A4, maybe less (any good sources please let me know). Take a trip to your local wilkos, poundland etc… and find some existing box canvas prints (or cheap wooden photo frames). Check the dimensions to make sure your canvas will adequately cover the entire frame, the sides and some of the back for the best results, if you’re using a roll feed on the printer then the frame can be as long as you want just as long as the canvas can cover the frames width. I took a piece of canvas with me and a tape measure to ensure I got the best frames and odd looks from fellow consumers and store staff.

Pull out the canvas and staples

That’s it! Your frames are built – just strip off the existing canvas using some needle nose pliers and pull out the staples and you’ve got your frame ready in far less time and effort as constructing one yourself. Don’t worry about damaging the old canvas, chances are if you were cheap like me the picture on there was crap anyway.

3 A4 Frames for £9

Setting up to print your canvas
Whether or not you’re printing your canvas these instructions still apply. We need to create a template to help us print, crop and frame the canvas – please scroll down to the framing section to get an idea.

First measure up the width and height of the frame from edge to edge, now measure how thick  the frame is and finally measure the width of the wood used to make the frame.

For example my frame is 30 cm x 20cm, my frame thickness is 2cm and the width of each piece is 3cm. So my material needs to be at the very most 30cm x 40cm to get the best results. If you want to try and use as much canvas as possible for your print then just ensure that it covers the sides of the frame and around 1cm on the back to give you something to staple into and tension.

My printed area is going to be the area of the frame (30 x 20 cm) plus the sides, so that’s 34 x 24 cm.

For folding the canvas and getting a nice fit you’ll need to cut the corners off so make sure to add lines to your template. If you scroll down you’ll see why/ how this is done.

I used Photoshop CS3 to do my print templates but you should be able to  follow the steps and do this in any basic application that lets you draw a few guides and lines over a photo. I guess if you’ve got a decent photo printer then you’re using Photoshop – CS3 and onwards has a much better print interface.

Create a new document, from the measurements of the frame and make sure its at a minimum of 300 dpi resolution and use RGB colour.

Next show your rulers (CTRL + R) make sure you’re setup for mm or cm (Edit, menu then Preferences to change).

Drag guides to mark the sides of the frame.

Draw lines for cutting the corners off.

Create a white frame around the outside in a new layer – to save wasting ink on the material being stapled to the frame.

Now you can put your photo in this document for printing and it will be perfectly positioned for you. This works also if you’re doing multiple panels. I won’t go into colour correction here, I’ll assume that you’ve done all this.


First to save wasting paper do a very small test print to make sure your print heads are aligned and nothing funky is happening in your images.

OK so we’re ready to print. You’ll need to first load the canvas roll typically at the back of the printer – this can be a pain to do as the printer won’t feed the roll unless its absolutely straight. To remedy this before clipping the canvas roll on the printer feed it first into the printer and press the roll button on your printer. It’s hit and miss but eventually it will take it, you just need to feed the paper in straight.

Now clip the roll on to the back of the printer and you’re ready to go. When printing you just need to set a few basic things, the media type (Watercolour paper – radiant white), to use the roll instead of sheet and to set the paper size to user defined (size of your document).

I always tick photo enhance and best photo options, also using the gloss optimiser. I leave the printer drivers to render the best colour conversion it can, generally few colours in my prints are out of the gamut. To get better results spend time playing with these setting but be prepared to waste some ink.

Click print and thats it. Once you’re done, press the roll feed button on the printer to feed the canvas out so you can cut it – the R1900 can attempt to cut the canvas but it’s  too thick. Once you’ve cut it (It only needs to be roughly straight) then press the roll feed button again to retract the leftover canvas ready for the next time – for doing panels I printed all of them and then cut the roll after the last print to save canvas.

3 panels printed

Framing your canvas

OK, you’ll need a staple gun with 6-10mm staples to do this. Its pretty easy to do and takes about 5-10 minutes per frame.

Cut off the corners

Remember the corner lines I added in my template first cut these off.

Mark the sides of the frame.

Now mark and measure in the depth of your frame on each side of your canvas, so on mine, I mark the edge at 2cm and at 22cm for example – you need these marks to make sure you get your frame in the right place.

Fold the canvas.

With the canvas face down fold back along the edge of the picture.

Staple the canvas to the frame

You should be able to line up the edges of your canvas with the frame, put in a staple to secure.

Pull the canvas tight, and staple the opposite side.

Fold the top

Tuck the corners in at the top and staple down, repeat at the bottom making sure to pull the canvas tight.

Finished stapling the frame

Finish off by stapling all sides down – can be as messy as you like, no one will see.

You should be left with a nice end result! 🙂 Please feel free to ask if you need a hand or something explained – or if you want me to print your photos!

First box frame attempt

Removing Crackle from Guitar

guitar pot

Got a cheap fender-like guitar I’ve had a while and it doesn’t always work, I plug it and then it crackles and cuts out frequently and if I turn the dials it also crackles. A friend wanted to use it so I’ve got motivated and I’ve gotten round to fixing it.

These steps apply to most modern guitars – if it’s a vintage you may not want to follow the steps.

It’s very simple to fix the electrics for the average guitar nothing really that concerning and removing the crackle from the pots/ dials is as easy as just buying some cleaner. It really is that easy.

Testing the jack with a mini amp

To test the connections/ circuitry as well as a multimeter I found it really useful to use a mini amp and headphones so I could listen for changes and improvements as I reproduced the fault.

First things first start with the jack and remove this from the guitar to inspect the connections. Should be a couple of screws holding the jack plate in and you’ll need to remove this and then unscrew the jack from the plate – there should be a couple of nuts holding it in place.

Faulty jack - half the problem...

Next have a look for something obvious – in my case the joint just wasn’t soldered properly. I cut the wires, stripped the ends, then resoldered the connections after removing the previous solder (or lack of in this case).

Cut wires from jack and strip wire down

Repaired jack

Moving the jack with the amp and headphones connected, listening now I can see the connection is fixed but turning the pots/ dials I hear the crackling still. The jack is the first place to start for a loose connection but if the problem is not the jack or still persists with an intermittent connection  after you’ve fixed the jack then you have a loose connection elsewhere. Next obvious place to check is the grounding/ earth wire – normally attached in the back of the guitar, there is a plate to remove to access this and the truss rod. Basically you’re looking for a wire that is connected to the guitar itself by way of a plate or something similar.

Check all the connections

If that connection looks fine, next check the connections on each pickup, in cheap guitars these joints can be poorly soldered so check and repair. Lastly check the connections on the switches the wiring isn’t too tricky to check just be methodical.

Hopefully you’ve found your loose connection(s) and fixed them, if not you’ll need to go through each connection with the multimeter. If however you’re now left with a crackle/ static sound anytime you turn a dial or use the pickup selector switch read on.

Removing the crackle
So to remove the crackle when turning the dials etc… Just take the pickguard off, if you haven’t already, by removing the screws around the outside. You’ll need some electrical contact cleaner in a spray can with a straw. You need to have a cleaner that is solvent based but also include lubricant since potentiometers and switches should be greased and not left dry as that will make things worse. I found a can down in my local motor store and any decent electronics store should sell it. Again make sure the spray is a lubricant!

Spray contact cleaner into pots and switches

On each switch or pot spray the cleaner  between the back of the pickgaurd and the dial. Keep you face away as it’s likely to spray back a bit and you dont want this in your eyes! You don’t need much spray just a couple of squirts, when done turn the dials back and forth to work in the cleaner, you should feel an improvement and the dial should feel smoother to turn. Repeat for each pot/ dial. For the pickup selector switch spray into the top of the switch from the front of the pickguard and work the cleaner in by flicking the switch back and forth.

Testing electrics

So now plug in the amp and headphones and listen for the crackle – it should be gone now – good way to test as put a string on the guitar and play it.

Hopefully that’s fixed your issues.

Tenacious D: Classico on the Bass Guitar

Classico on bass

Not so sure I’ve tabbed this 100% but it’s a start, Tenacious D’s Classico for the Bass guitar. Video at the bottom showing it being played.

It’s essentially parts from Bachs Bouree in E Minor, Beethovens Fur Elise and Mozarts Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. I’ve translated the notes as best I can on the bass but let me know if I’ve got it wrong, I’ve also done this in power tab as well here. Click the image below to see it a bit bigger and better quality.

I do apologise for the sound quality in the video below but through decent speakers you can actually hear the bass, shame about the hissing but its a good enough start.

Printing layout for images in Photoshop and probably most image software

photoshop pagelayout transform

I’m going to concentrate on Photoshop here, but this will also include a method that will work in any image editing software. The aim is to specifically print your image in a designated area of a page. Scroll to the bottom of this to see the really easy way in the latest Photoshop versions.

So in this example we have an A4 printer and say we want to make a greeting card. To keep it simple our card will just be an A4 sheet folded once in half, we have our picture that we want on the front of the card, so how do we make it print on half the A4.

By default when you print it will set it to the center of the page rather than the top or bottom. In later versions of photoshop you can specify where the image is printed but the other way to do this is as follows.

First create a new document at the size of the paper you are printing on, so in this case A4 (297 x 210mm), ensure that it has a white background colour – most printers don’t print white! So now where ever you position your image in this A4 document is where it will be printed on the page, allowing you to do basic page layout.


Now you’ll want to position it, to do this first make sure you have the rulers showing on your images – do this by pressing CTRL + R or by going to the top menu, selecting ‘View’ and then ‘Rulers’. Look closely at your measurements on these rulers, they may not be set to anything useful. You can change the unit of measurement on these rulers by doing the following: go to the top menu and click ‘edit’ and then at the bottom look for ‘preferences’ and then click ‘Units & Rulers’. In this dialogue box you can then change the units to cm, mm, inches etc… (in other versions of Photoshop, the preferences maybe under the file menu). If you have your rulers showing you can actually just double click any ruler to bring up the units preference OR just right click on a ruler to change the units of measurement for even more simplicity (and you look like a pro).


OK, so we should now have rulers on our A4 document – this will now allow us to draw some guides and accurately place our image. If you click and hold the left mouse button on the ruler (either one) and then drag your mouse pointer from here on to the canvas you will see a line appear (normally light blue). This is a guide – don’t worry it won’t get printed!

So now we can position these guides – for my example I dragged a guide from the top ruler to 148.5mm, remember that you can zoom into your canvas to minutely adjust where your guides are. If you want to remove a guide just click and drag it back on to the ruler. If you want to quickly hide guides then you can press CTRL + H to show/ hide guides.


OK so now we have guides we can now add in our image and place it on the page and we can be pretty confident of where it will get printed on the paper.

Now its possible that due to varying factors such as different image resolutions and dimensions your image won’t fit perfectly on the page, maybe its too big or to small. If you press CTRL + T you can transform and scale your image accordingly – hold the shift key when you do this to keep everything in scale. You can also find transformations under the ‘edit’ menu at the top.


Ok so below are the following steps to follow to layout your image to be printed pretty much exactly where you want it to.

Create document the size of the paper you are printing on (CTRL + N)
Show rulers (CTRL + R) and set them to a print measurement (mm, cm etc..) (right click on rulers)
Drag guides from the rulers to create a grid to help position your image
Select all of the image you want to print  (CTRL + A)
Copy it to your clipboard (CTRL + C)
Change to your A4 document
Paste your image in here (CTRL + V)
Now line it up on the guides and resize it if needed (CTRL + T holding shift key to keep transformations in scale)

That should get you started for now – you can also add in guides to allow for printer margins, borders and so on. This method has the benefit of allowing you to place multiple images on one sheet of A4 and you can expand on this to do montages and framing – if you do decide to do multiple images then the layer palette will be your friend!

One final tip for positioning this way – you can set some  options for how you place your images, this is called ‘Snap’ and it allows you to snap your images to the guides, a grid, another image and so on – these settings can be found under the ‘View’ menu at the top.

Of course in later versions of photoshop you can do all of this by just click print (CTRL +P ) and then setting up your margins and position here- thats it! Shame it took several versions before we had this functionality.


Although this only allows you to print the one image. For much better page layout and framing you should look at DTP (DeskTop Publishing) packages like Adobe InDesign.

Setting sizes for images in Photoshop (and any other image editing software)

Photoshop imageSize resolution

There are two important things in ALL image editing software concerning the sizing of your image – Resolution and dimensions. This is not specific to any specific program, it is applicable to all of them.

Firstly these factors depend on how you wish your image to be used. Will it be for the web and only ever exist on screen or will it be printed out?

Normally I always start by making my documents for print. This is because it requires a greater resolution than screen and with images you can always make them smaller but you can’t always make them bigger. So lets sort out resolution.

Resolution in this context refers to how much information can be stored within a set area. So the more information you store, the more detail in your image, in our case its how many pixels can be stored in an inch (2.54cm). On a typical computer screen it can display up to 96 pixels per linear inch, commonly in practice resolutions for screens are still set at 72 pixels per inch. So for every inch on your computer screen there are 72 pixels.

With printing, its slightly more complex, you are limited by how many dots/ droplets the printer can produce in an inch. Typically most printers can now handle 1200 dots per inch (Most Epson, Canon + HP inkjet printers), but this amount of data will create a very large image file, so best practice is to set a print resolution of 300ppi as generally you won’t notice anything more than this on your average paper. Professionally your image resolution will depend on the type of paper your printing to, photographic paper can handle the fine ink droplets of upto 1200ppi but your bog standard photocopy paper would be a big mess if you printed out something at this resolution – this comes down to the papers weight and how dense it is.

So to recap, 72ppi for screen based work, 300ppi generally for print based work. Always start with print based settings as you can always scale down – its hard to go the other way. Why? because if you have only 72 of something you have to stretch it to be 300, that means a lot of data gets added to make up the difference. Whereas reducing means losing data in the process which you wouldn’t notice on screen.

Now we have a basic understanding of resolution, we can move on to the size and dimensions of your image and you’ll see that on screen resolution has a big impact.

Image dimensions
Because it is easier to comprehend lets start with print sizes, Whilst we measure resolution in pixels or dots per inch, with dimensions its actually easier to measure in metric mm/cm. Typically in print it used to be measured in points and picas but I prefer millimetres.

So when you create a new image in Photoshop it will ask you for a width and a height – you can change the measurement from pixels to various settings. For now I would suggest always doing this in millimetres (mm), this will be the size that the image prints out at. Typical paper settings in the ISO A series are:

A6: 105 x 148.5mm
A5: 148.5 x 210mm
A4: 210 x 297mm
A3: 297 x 420mm
A2: 420 x 594mm
A1: 594 x 840mm

Any paper that you buy will always have the measurement on it and as a rule of thumb if you want to do borderless photos I would make your document 6mm wider and taller than your paper. Doing this is called ‘bleed’ what this means is you can print to the edge of your paper and you won’t risk showing a nasty white edge even if the paper loads in crooked. A lot of inkjet printers (not just the more expensive photo models) now have modes that let you print to the edge but this will only be for certain types of paper – normally photographic media.

So to recap, if you’re printing your image make sure the resolution is set to at least 300ppi and your width and height dimensions are set to your paper size, with 6mm added on if you want borderless pictures, or the dimensions are set to the physical size of how big you want your image printed.

When you create your image this will look huge on screen. This is down to resolution, your computer screen can’t display the 300ppi resolution so your screen will show you your image based on the pixel size of the image.

Thats right, on screen your image is measured in pixels – not any physical measurement! So please do not let people catch you measuring your image on screen with a ruler – I have more often that not seen this from our marketing department when they get confused with resolution.

So here’s how it works (briefly)…
You should be able to figure this out that for every inch you have 72 ppi so a 1 inch square at 72ppi will be 72 pixels wide and tall. If that same inch has a resolution of 300ppi then it will be 300ppi wide and tall. That Inch will print exactly the same size but on screen it will have much bigger dimensions. This comes down to your screen size, for instance most common screens are set at a size of 1024 x 768 pixels so my 300ppi inch square is going to take up a a third of my screen area when viewed at 100%. Now if my screen size is 1280 x 1024 that same square at 100% will take up around a quarter of my screen area and so on. This is whats called a relative measurement and this is why you can’t physically measure what’s on your screen.


So when you’re making an image for the internet, you stick it at 72ppi and then you’ll know exactly how big it will be on everyone’s screens – also this keeps the file size down remember? The higher the resolution, the more detail and the bigger the file. You can see from the image above the difference (hopefully) between the same image at 100% with the same print size just at different resolution, the left is 300ppi, the right is 72ppi.

So to recap:
Unless you are specifically working for screen/TV/web ALWAYS start your document with physical print measurements (cm/mm) and a resolution of at least 300ppi. This way you will rarely be disappointed by fuzzy/ blocky images when you print them out. You can always scale down later for web usage if you need to.

Briefly lets discuss colour modes. When creating your document you will see different ‘Color’ modes. Basically leave it at 8bits per channel and leave it as RGB – you can always convert your document to black and white later on. Remember like resolutions, colour contains more data than grayscale so you can lose it and convert, but you can’t convert grayscale and get back your colours because this data is lost and won’t exist.

In a printed world we would use the CMYK color mode as this best represents the pigment/ ink setup of a printer Most printers have just the 4 inks Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) but computer colour profiles are generally good enough now for it to be able to handle RGB and you’ll get just as good a result. To handle RGB, printers now come with extra ink colours to help produce more vibrant results. It’s also worth noting that the RGB colour mode contains much more colour information than CMYK, so it’s best to start in RGB, especially since this is the colour mode your digital camera will use.

To summarise
Use RGB, start at 300 dpi/ppi and work in physical sizes for your dimensions and this should sort you out.

So now hopefully you understand this a bit better (I hope). To create a new image in Photoshop, go to the File menu at the top left and select ‘New’ and go from there, or to alter an existing Images size go to the Image menu at the top and then select ‘Image Size’.

Arduino – motion triggered camera

Nikon D80 Motion sensor trigger

So having worked out that I can make a remote for my Nikon D80 to do some timelapse photography. I started thinking of things I can do to trigger the remote, below video shows it working but you’ll need sound to hear the shutter going.

First of all check out my tutorial for making the remote as this builds on that tutorial – also saves me having to recap and explain that. Arduino Nikon intervalometer infrared remote for timelapse photography.

Ok so now you know how I’m going to trigger the camera to take pictures. So now we need the sensor, for this I’m going to use a PIR (Pyroelectric InfraRed sensor) IC that works like a switch turning on when motion is detected, the one I’m using is basically a couple of IR emitters and sensors under a Fresnel lens – word of warning make sure you get the power supply right as they tend to smoke otherwise!. It works by measuring any difference to the background temperature and infrared radiation. I’ve also added an LED to signal when the PIR is on or off.

The biggest challenge for this was making sure the camera didn’t keep triggering for the length of time the PIR was active – sometimes it would be active for 5 or seconds after initial movement, so I wanted to capture say 2 photos for each time it was triggered.

For lazyness I’ve left my camera in auto setting so that it *should* autofocus along with everything else – e.g. exposure times and apertures.

Arduino Motion Tracker Parts

220 Ohm resistor (Red, Red, Brown, Gold)
10K Ohm resistor (Brown, Black, Orange, Gold)
PIR sensor
Infrared emitting diode
Arduino Deumilanove w/ ATMEGA328
Breadboard / Prototyping board
Jumper/ Connector wires
Optional 9V power supply (here) or use the USB power for the Arduino
You will also need a soldering iron and solder if you use the same PIR as myself.

The Arduino Motion Detector Circuit

You may not be able to see but I’ve used the power supply from the Arduino to power the breadboard. The PIR gets its supply from this and there’s a 10k Ohm resistor between its output pin and pin 4 on the Arduino. The LED has a 220 Ohm resistor between that and the digital pin 9. The IR LED I’ve left in pin 13 and grounded – for a better system I would solder on a couple of wires to allow more flexibility with transmitting the signal. Also for the PIR, the one I have I had to solder a few jumper wires into the back of it just so you know.


Arduino Motion Sketch / Code

Based off of my remote tutorial I’ve just added in a few extra things really. An output for the LED, an input for the PIR and a chunk of code to limit the taking of photos.
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LUCKYLARRY.CO.UK - IR Remote control for Nikon using Arduino with motion trigger

Uses a PIR sensor to trigger the camera remote/ IR led if a change in background
temperature is detected.


int currentState = 0;                                   // set a variable to store a count.
int pinPIR = 4;                                         // digital pin 4 for PIR
int pinLED = 9;                                         // digital pin 9 for LED
int pinIRLED = 13;                                      // assign the Infrared emitter/ diode to pin 13

void setup() {
  pinMode(pinIRLED, OUTPUT);                            // set the pin as an output
  pinMode(pinLED, OUTPUT);                              // set the LED pin as ouput
  pinMode(pinPIR, INPUT);                               // set the PIR pin as an input

// sets the pulse of the IR signal.
void pulseON(int pulseTime) {
  unsigned long endPulse = micros() + pulseTime;        // create the microseconds to pulse for
  while( micros() < endPulse) {
    digitalWrite(pinIRLED, HIGH);                       // turn IR on
    delayMicroseconds(13);                              // half the clock cycle for 38Khz (26.32×10-6s) - e.g. the 'on' part of our wave
    digitalWrite(pinIRLED, LOW);                        // turn IR off
    delayMicroseconds(13);                              // delay for the other half of the cycle to generate wave/ oscillation


void pulseOFF(unsigned long startDelay) {
  unsigned long endDelay = micros() + startDelay;       // create the microseconds to delay for
  while(micros() < endDelay);

void takePicture() {
  for (int i=0; i < 2; i++) {
    pulseON(2000);                                      // pulse for 2000 uS (Microseconds)
    pulseOFF(27850);                                    // turn pulse off for 27850 us
    pulseON(390);                                       // and so on
  }                                                     // loop the signal twice.

void loop() {

  if ((digitalRead(pinPIR) == LOW) && (currentState <= 2)) { // count to limit the taking of photos
    takePicture();                                      // take the picture
    digitalWrite(pinLED, HIGH);                         // turn LED on
  } else {
    digitalWrite(pinLED, LOW);
    currentState = 0;                                   //reset the count when the PIR is off.

  delay(2000);                                          // delay for 2 seconds - 2 seconds between taking photos if the PIR is active for more than 2 seconds.

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I think adding in another PIR would help me make some kind of turret system. Also you could use the ultrasonic range finder jobby, the SRF-05, to detect the distance and if less than say 3 metres take the photo etc.. I'm also going to try and setup a trip-wire system to trigger the camera 🙂

Arduino – IR remote/ intervalometer for Nikon D80 DSLR (that means timelapse photography yarrr!)

Nikon D80 + Arduino remote trigger/ intervalometer

I’m cheap and skint, yet I want to do timelapse photography with my Nikon D80 DSLR. Unfortnately that requires spending some cash on an intervalometer for time lapse photography which will set me back a sizeable chunk of cash. Or I could get a remote or get the trigger system then create a delay mechanism to do the timelapse. But again it’d cost a few quid to even get a remote…

Thankfully I already have an Arduino board and a bag of Infrared emitter diodes which I was wondering what I could use them for. So I had a quick scout round the interweb and saw various projects where people had written programs to allow Arduino to work as a TV remote etc.. and I stumbled up on this site: which listed the very IR timing sequence and frequency I would need to trigger my camera. I’m guessing you can find other sequences/ frequencies for other bits of hardware too.

There is no point in me writing up a circuit diagram or parts list for this as you just need an IR diode and an Arduino board. Oh and check that your camera has an Infrared remote port on it or else this is pointless!

Arduino Nikon Intervalometer Remote Code

You will see that basically we blink an IR LED for a set time, wait and repeat to create our signal. The only complicated bits are working out the delays to create the pulse cycle/ wave. Turns out Arduino isn’t so hot at measuring delays in Microseconds so we need to give it a hand keeping track using the micros() function – so we just create a counter to do this and specify an end time for it to count up to.
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LUCKYLARRY.CO.UK - IR Remote control for Nikon using Arduino

Mimics the infrared signal to trigger the remote for any Nikon camera
which can use the ML-L1 and ML-L3 remotes. Can be used as an intervalometer
for time lapse photography.

The IR sequence I used is originally taken from:

You should be able to use my pulse methods to alter to suit other cameras/ hardware.

micros() is an Arduino function that calls the time in Microseconds since your program
first ran. Arduino doesn't reliably work with microseconds so we work our timings by
taking the current reading and then adding our delay on to the end of it rather than rely
on the in built timer.


int pinIRLED = 13;                                      // assign the Infrared emitter/ diode to pin 13

void setup() {
  pinMode(pinIRLED, OUTPUT);                            // set the pin as an output

// sets the pulse of the IR signal.
void pulseON(int pulseTime) {
  unsigned long endPulse = micros() + pulseTime;        // create the microseconds to pulse for
  while( micros() < endPulse) {
    digitalWrite(pinIRLED, HIGH);                       // turn IR on
    delayMicroseconds(13);                              // half the clock cycle for 38Khz (26.32×10-6s) - e.g. the 'on' part of our wave
    digitalWrite(pinIRLED, LOW);                        // turn IR off
    delayMicroseconds(13);                              // delay for the other half of the cycle to generate wave/ oscillation


void pulseOFF(unsigned long startDelay) {
  unsigned long endDelay = micros() + startDelay;       // create the microseconds to delay for
  while(micros() < endDelay);

void takePicture() {
  for (int i=0; i < 2; i++) {
    pulseON(2000);                                      // pulse for 2000 uS (Microseconds)
    pulseOFF(27850);                                    // turn pulse off for 27850 us
    pulseON(390);                                       // and so on
  }                                                     // loop the signal twice.

void loop() {
  takePicture();                                        // take the picture
  delay(5000);                                          // delay in milliseconds which allows us to do timelapse photography - 1 second = 1000 milliseconds

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Ok, so one other thing when using your camera and thats a quick modification to the remote timer, if like mine your infrared camera remote port is set to be active for less than a minute then you'll need to edit the settings accordingly - just check your owner manual. For me it's in the menu screen, custom setting menu, then option 30: Remote on duration.

Now I just got to take some cool timelapse stuff like my friends here:

Which also reminds me to look into CHDK and my Canon Powershot A530 and see what I can do there. 🙂