Conductive Skate Photography
The Dustin's Words device

Conductive Skate Photography

The first interactive skate park

My Role

  • UX Designer
  • Developer
  • Hardware
  • Design
  • Video
  • Ideation


VCU Brancenter Logo


Richmond-VA-RVA - Logo

Prototype Overview

Using conductive paint, I painted 2 thin strips along the coping of the ledge. One strip connected to ground and the other to a DSLR’s shutter with copper tape. The tape runs from the end of the 2 paint stripes and into a cord I’ve spliced and soldered into my DSLR. Once the truck of the skateboard makes contact with the ledge, a photo is snapped and sent straight to (which is no longer live). On the responsive site, users can learn how the project works, view photos in real time as they are snapped, they can actually search and navigate to other skate parks that have these devices built in and see photos from that park.

This site is live as we speak, and scalable (for the most part) to any device. Still in BETA, but it’s been working awesome.
For this project, I won a Best In Show award to the Richmond Ad Show along with 2 other awards. Check it out here.

the skateboard park I built it at

The Process

Above is an image I took of Texas Beach Skate Park in Richmond, VA. It is skater built, completely DIY and the home of Conductive Skate Photography. The idea of automatic skate photography when I took a break from class one day and was strolling around the park. I had just learned a new trick and wanted to snap a photo of it or take a video so I propped my phone up against my wallet and hit record. When I landed the trick (10 minutes later) I checked my phone and it was out memory. So I thought, “There has to be a better way, this sucks."

process photo of me painting the coping and ledge

After 3 attempts and 10 hours of trial and error painting I had the bowl corner, ledge and plastic square all painted up and ready to go.

process photo of the camera's mic jack being hacked

When the paint dries, I have to apply the copper tape and apply another layer of Bare Conductive Paint to bind the painted surface and the copper tape. After that is dry, it’s time to connect the camera.

All of the components used in the construction of this interactive experience
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    Camera Hack

    Splitting the wires of an audio jack cord, we are able to control the cameras shutter and flash manually.

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    Bare Conductive Paint

    Bare paint is the main ingredient, transferring the electricity from skateboard to the camera enabling the shutter.

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    Canon 5D Mark III

    Using a Wi-Fi SD Card, the images snapped are sent in real time to a responsive web-site.

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    Skateboard Truck

    A photo is snapped when the truck of a skateboard makes contact with the obstacle.

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    Conductive Wax

    This wax is applied to the board, making not only the truck conductive but the entire board.


Conductive Wax

This was the trickiest part of the process and an ongoing struggle. I figured out that wax is a horrible conductor, actually it’s an awesome insulator. To combat it’s natural insolent property, I tried adding dozens of different conductors. One conductor prevailed, graphite. One T light candle required about 4-5 full B2 pencils.

Process photo of making the conductive wax

Matt Reamer © 2017 - All Rights Reserved    OTHER PROJECTS