Alpine Labs Tech Tip Compendium


Here at Alpine Labs we feel that the better you understand your gear, the more you'll be able to do with it. As part of that, in each Blog post we post a new Tech Tip to give some insight into how our gear works, and how to better use it. This page is a compendium of these tech tips, and if you like what you see, we encourage you to subscribe to our blog, where we provide updates twice a month with new tutorials, products, interesting videos, and tech tips. 


Tech Tip #1 : Taking Better Time Lapses

This one is so long its got its own Page


Tech Tip #2 : How Radian/Michron Tell Your Camera To Take A Photo

Radian/Michron sends an electrical signal to your camera via the shutter release cable. This signal is based on standard protocols that were established long ago, and the signal is essentially the equivalent of holding your finger on the shutter button of your camera. The length of time for which this signal is sent (ie how long it thinks your finger is holding the shutter button) is called the "hold time" and can be controlled in the App.

One issue that can come up when taking a time lapse with Radian/Michron is that your camera may not always take a photo when it is told to. You may have noticed that sometimes you may need to hold your finger on the shutter button for a while (even up to 1 second) to take a photo with your camera. This is generally due to the time needed for your camera to autofocus, and adjust to its surroundings. Unlike you, Radian/Michron does not know if your camera has taken a photo or not, so if your camera is still adjusting while the trigger pulse comes and goes, you will simply miss that photo in your final footage. And this will result in your final footage appearing choppy or unsmooth.

The newest versions of the Radian and Michron Apps take steps to reduce this issue by increasing the default trigger pulse time to .5 and 1 second respectively. However, if you are using a short interval (under 2 seconds), or you are using interval ramping with Michron, this default time will be reduced to .25 seconds and .5 seconds, respectively. Michron’s pulse goes as low as .1 second for very fast intervals - If this is the case, you will need to make sure that your camera is in fully manual mode (especially the focus!).


Tech Tip #3: How Exactly Does Radian Decide On The Timing Of Its Motions?

Radian is a Move-Shoot-Move device, meaning that it does not move while your camera is taking a photo, to ensure crisp footage. This is in contrast to something like an egg timer, which is always rotating. To ensure that Radian has fully stopped moving before it triggers your camera to take a photo, there is a delay between when Radian stops moving, and when it tells your camera to start taking a photo. The details of this timing are shown in the below graphic.

In addition to the timing during regular time lapses, there are a few other bits of timing that are relevant :

  • Upon startup, there is a 3 second delay before Radian does anything - this delay is so that Radian can check if it is connected to a computer, which is necessary to ensure that firmware updates can be loaded to Radian
  • 6 seconds after startup, Radian will begin its preload motion
  • 13 seconds after startup, Radian will take the first picture
  • After this Radian will execute its motions according to the above routine.
  • If you are performing a Queue, Radian will pause for 6 seconds between the end of the one time lapse, and the start of the next.

Tech Tip #4 : How Does The App Send Data To You Radian/Michron?

Well, its a bit of tech that we’re quite proud of, so we’re glad you asked! Your phone/tablet/phablet communicates with your Radian/Michron (I’ll call them “your device” moving forward) via an asynchronous communication protocol (we use 8-N-1 to be exact). This is a protocol that was created long ago by some smart people, and its a very established bit of tech. In fact, it is so commonly used that many microprocessors (the chips we use to do the thinking) have special hardware (ie layers of carefully-placed silicon) built-in that can process these signals and immediately turn them into useful data without the chip’s software being involved! This is handy since using the built-in chip hardware allows us to reduce the code complexity, reduce power consumption, and increase transmission robustness. It also make my life way easier.

When you use your phone to send the time lapse settings to your device, the app follows the following path (excerpted from our patent):

The last step after the above process is to then send the data (saved as a .wav audio file) out of your phone’s audio port by just playing that file as though it were any other audio file. Your device then receives this data through the programming port, does some work to boost the signals to the appropriate voltages, and then parses the information into time lapse settings on its end.


Tech Tip #5 : R2 Software

In this week’s tech tip, we will be discussing the new Radian R2 Software. We are really excited to release this upgrade and will explain below about what features are now available and the challenges we had in creating them.

Since this one's a bit of an essay, to see the whole tech tip head on over to :


TECH TIP #6 : Improving Your Workflow With the New Radian R2 Features

Last time I talked about some of the more technical details of the Radian software update, and this week I’ll be focusing on how to take advantage of the new features to improve your workflow when setting up a time lapse. This is a quick tech tip and it should make using Radian even easier! This one's a bit long, so Click Here to get the full tech tip. 


Tech Tip #7 : Auto Bulb Ramping

In this week’s tech tip I’ll be talking about how to take a “Bulb Ramp” (AKA Bramp) using your camera’s automatic features. This is actually one of my favorite tricks for keeping light levels smooth, even during regular daylight time-lapses, but it can also make taking sunrise or sunset time lapses much simpler. Click here for the full Tech Tip!


Tech Tip #8 : What's New in Radian 2 ?

This week I’ll be diving under the hood of Radian 2 a bit to explain exactly what’s different from Radian 1, and what exciting opportunities these new features open up! Click here for the full Tech Tip!