Project Chronos Home

christopher field
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FINAL UPDATE 7/15/2013

Hey Everyone! This is the FINAL and last update to the sourceforge page. Due to the amount of information we had all over the place we have consolidated everything to our new website. This will be the central location for all things Chronos related, we also have forum boards you can use to get technical help or document your own built which we would love to see!

As always, I like to be engaged with people, I will still maintain the Project Chronos Facebook page

And last but not least, we have joined the twitterverse... @ChronosChris

Thank you all so much for your support! You can always reach me at


Update March 2013, My apologies i have not updated this page in months. The new Jan_23 code now eliminates the need to modify the code yourself with the new calibration routine. Here is a brief video explaining the process.

You can now select 3 different motor speeds (high speed positioning speed, time lapse movement speed, and microstepping speed), you can select the threshold for microstepping 1-100%, rail length in CM, steps per CM so the controller understands distance with different drivetrains, minimum exposure time, display in standard or metric, and enable shutter signal passthrough or block.

Live ramping is also available and works on the Jan 23 code, I had found quite a few bugs on the prior versions that were introduced after a major re-write, they mostly just affected reversals and repeats, but so far the new Jan 23 code seems to be pretty solid and i have not found any bugs, everything works. The continuous mode has changed, and the HDR5 is now gone leaving just HDR3 and Nudge.

September 27 2012, Chronos 2.0 Instruction manual in Italian is now available for download!'

I am working on a website and new content to hopefully hold a more organized and updated set of information. In the meantime if you have any questions contact me at



PLEASE!!! I have put a lot of blood/sweat/tears into this system and have just given it to the world! All I ask in return is if you finish building one of these, please let me know what country/province/town you live in so i can add it to my map. :)

Also, I know plenty of these have been made, who will be the first to write me a review? :)

Vimeo Channel with video walkthroughs and sample footage.

Chronos 2.0 Control Box construction manual is in the downloads page.

Chronos 2.0 Complete parts list is in the Wiki

I am working on the "Chronos Testing and Calibration" guide.

Project Chronos 2.0 resource page.
Welcome to Project Chronos 2.0

NOTE: Chronos 1.0 is no longer supported, I keep the files and schematics in the files section, but Chronos 2.0 is a superior system in every way.

I first started out by building Chronos 1.0, it was a simple open source system i made available to the public for anyone to try. I made note of what i wanted in the next incarnation which is Chronos 2.0, this was designed by a time lapse photographer for timelapse photographers. I kept the gimmicks out, and focused on keeping the most critical capabilities and focused on avoiding the problems found in many other systems. In the end im very pleased with how this developed, and i encourage anyone who wants to try to build one to give it a shot! I make myself readily available through email to answer any questions people may have and offer any support i can. Also i can build a complete system for anybody who is interested in a turn-key unit.

I had several goals in mind when i designed this system and the 2.0 software package.

  • Accuracy

This system is built for timelapse, and timelapse only. This is not a video dolly, let me repeat, this is NOT for video. I opted to design this as a timelapse system with no compromises when it comes to movement and accuracy. This system is proven to be capable of making measured and controlled movements as little as 1/32,000th of an inch (1/64,000th theroretically) That is .00003125 inches. To put this in perspective an average width of a human hair is .00393 inches. That means Chronos has been proven to move distances as little as 1/125th the width of a human hair. I feel good about the statement that if you are using Chronos 2.0 built to spec, you have the most accurate rail ever built for timelapse when it is running in microstepping mode which automatically engages when the distance is under 3 inches or 8 cm. This is the ONLY time lapse rail capable of extreme macro timelapse work, and is even capable of running velocity ramping at such microscopic levels. In Non-Microstepping mode (anything over 3 inches) it is capable of resolution of 1/4000th of an inch.

  • Integration

Chronos 2.0 was also built to be able to sync up with any timelapse system on the market. The one thing every single decent timelapse system is capable doing is controlling the shutter on a camera via shutter release cable. So i used this as the base of synchronization for its SMS shooting. And by utilizing what i call WSM. WSM is the heart of the Chronos 2.0 control system. WSM stands for Wait-Shoot-Move. This is a variant of the traditional Shoot-Move-Shoot (SMS or Interleave) style of shooting where a camera will move stop, take the pic, then wait, move, tae pic, wait move take pic. Chronos 2.0 on the other hand will move after the shutter closes, so the sequence is Shoot Move Wait Shoot Move Wait. This gives the absolute maximum amount of time for the camera to settle after the movement before it shoots.

This means simple and efficient integration with cameras, intervalomters, bulb rampers, and any other system on the market capable of triggering a camera.

  • No Menus

The Chronos 2.0 user interface is designed to be as simple and straight forward as possible, without making sacrifices to the level of control. Instead of using a complicated menu tree with 6-8 buttons I opted to simplify things by using two dials and 4 buttons for the control interface, along with a 4 digit LED display. While it may not be very fancy, it is very effective and simple to use. As an additional benefit the space saved in the systems memory by scrapping the menu system made room for additional movement patterns.

  • Do what I tell you!

I also wanted to make sure this system would do exactly what I told it to do, and to make that as simple as possible. After using the system a couple times you will already have it figured out. There is no guesswork or math needed to figure out how long it will take or how many shots will be taken or how long it will move. The ramping system is simple to use and easy to understand so you can be sure it will behave in the mannor you request it.

There is no calibration, no slowdown for vertical lifts vs horizontal moves. It is extremly predictable and reliable. it is capable of lifting 30lbs vertically (tested on 39 inch rail with 36 inches of total travel using the recommended stepper, rail, lead screw, and antibacklash nut)

I tell it to move 30 inches and take 450 shots with a 75% asymmetrical ramp and when it is done it will have moved 30 inches, taken 450 shots, and it will have increased speed untill it is 75% of the way through its routine then slow down to a stop.

  • Fully Featured

I wanted features, tons of them. I did not want to skimp out, I wanted to make sure this system was ready for anything I could at it. it offers internal stepcounting and repeatabiity. It synchs up with other systems including bulb rampers, it gives me visual feedback as to its progress on a routine, it has automated microstepping mode to give super high resolution movement on macro timelapse, it offers several types of velocity ramping, as well as continuous movements with adjustable bulb control and after shot buffers. It can even work with Imperial or Metric distances.

Chronos 2.0 Features

  • 10 levels of LED brightness control.
  • Manual position control
  • Shot Delay of 0-1000 shots
  • Intervalometer 1 second to 1 hour intervals
  • Bulb Exposure control 1 second to 1 minute.
  • After shot buffer of .1 to .9 seconds
  • Number of shots per routine - 30 to 9,999 )
  • Camera nudge to wake up sleeping cameras before the shot.
  • HDR functions to shoot 3 or 5 shot HDR brackets.
  • Signal passthrough to trigger the camera from an external source even when running a routine.
  • Metric to Standard conversion
  • Distance moved per routine 1-36 inches or 1-91 Centimeters (for a 39 inch (1000mm) rail.
  • Symmetrical Velocity ramping 5% - 50% (1% increments)
  • Asymmetrical Velocity ramping 5-95% (1 % increments)
  • Non ramped movements
  • Repeat routine 0-9 times from beginning
  • Repeat routine 0-9 times from end
  • Run routine then rewind to beginning and wait
  • Repeat movement pattern in reverse with symmetrical ramping adjustment
  • Repeat movement pattenr in reverse with asymmetrical ramping adjustment
  • WSM Shooting display shows Shots taken, Shots remaining, Time elapsed, Time remaining.
  • Continuous movement modes, 10 speeds, time weighted by distance selected.
  • Master control mode where Chronos provides the timing signal.
  • Slave sync mode to enable Chronos to sync to external timers, intervalomters, bulb rampers, or other systems.
  • 66 Movement profiles with adjustable delays, shots, buffers, bulb timers, distance to build a virtually endless amount of movement routines.
  • Step counting to provide perfect repeatability
  • Limit switches to prevent overshooting and damage to the system.

If you find my Vimeo channel for Project Chronos (linked below) you will find instructions on how to build one. The rail prep videos are the same, as are the limit switches, but the control box is significantly different and far far better.

Thank you!

  • Chris

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