The very beginning...
In 2011 I (Elijah) became interested in time-lapse photography and needed an intervalometer. Watching my watch and pressing the shutter got old really quickly and the results were never quite right. I looked at various intervalometers but didn't find anything satisfactory for a reasonable price. So I thought I'd try making one (I didn't really need to make one, but I thought it would be fun anyway). So I made one with the Atmel AVR Butterfly evaluation board and a few extra parts. This worked, and I used it quite a bit, but I wanted a more "packaged" solution rather than just a bare board hanging off the camera. I also didn't like the limitation of the simple LCD.
So then I got more involved and made my own board, with the thought that maybe I'd try selling it in the future. I added wireless capabilities and designed a 3D printed case (from Ponoko). It wasn't perfect, but I realized that this new platform opened up a wide variety of new things. I began adding more to it and wanted to get it ready to sell so that I could better support further development.
Then I heard about Kickstarter from Sparkfun when they wrote about Brook Drumm's 3D Printer (which I was so bummed I couldn't afford at the time!). So I put together a video showing off the prototype and some time-lapse clips I filmed using the earlier prototype. Here's the video:
I launched the kickstarter campaign on December 31st, 2011, with the goal to raise $20,000 in preorders to get the project started. I thought this was quite ambitious, but there wasn't anything to lose. The first day it did well (at least to me!) and raised $1,622. Then on January 2nd, my friend Isaac Kamsin (novosolves.com) gave the tip to engadget's Insert Coin and Sharif Sakr wrote a wonderful article about the Timelapse+. By January 4th, just 2 days later, the funding passed $30,000, blowing away my $20k goal!
By the end, the project reached $165k with 1,248 backers and 1,249 Timelapse+ devices pre-ordered! It was way beyond what I expected, and although it's nothing compared to some projects, for me it was incredibly encouraging and exciting to see so many people affirm and believe in my work.
And with so many orders, it helped to bring the price of parts down so that I had room to make some improvements! One of my goals was to incorporate USB host capability so that it would be able to control more aspects of the camera. I didn't know if I'd be able to add that to this model or not initially so I didn't advertise it when I first created the kickstarter campaign.
But now, I'm excited to say it's better than ever and everything I hoped it would be! On the right is a photo of one of the final prototypes with a case that was 3D-printed by Shapeways. Initially most of the effort went into the hardware, since the firmware is easily upgradable via USB (unlike the hardware!). So as far as the extended features of the firmware go, there's still much that can be further developed, but the hardware support is there, and that's what matters most.
After a huge effort and lots of help from friends and family, we managed to fulfill all of the 1400 preorders (from kickstarter and otherwise) -- it was such a relief to finally be on the other side of it all!