Disclaimer: This is not my idea. I have just combined two different ideas into one. I haven’t really come across a remote that was like this, so thought of making a DIY tutorial for it.
Alright. The other day, I was shooting some pics with my Canon 550D in the night. To be honest, my hands are not that steady, and so my pics were all coming out blurry. There was one solution to this, and that was to use a tripod. Well, I know, that a tripod is a must have accessory with a DSLR, but then I have also heard that even with a tripod, there could be a little visible camera shake in the pics in some situations.
A solution to this problem is using wired or wireless remote controls to trigger the shutter without touching the camera, thus avoiding camera shake altogether. I did some online window shopping for these remotes for my cam and found these to be too expensive for the purpose. So I went back to our trustworthy google and did a search for an alternative. There I found references to a couple of instruction pages which told you how to build one yourself.
After going through both the tutorials, I found that the first one has the toggle switch for a simple On/Off of the remote but also has schematics to make it operational for bulb exposure, while the second one lacks that. The first one involved using a 2.5mm cable ,which I was not able to procure from the local electronics shop. All they had was a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter and the camera requires a 2.5mm jack to be connected to it. I liked the simplicity of the second tutorial but it lacked the bulb exposure switch, while the first one was meeting my requirements, but involved a 2.5mm cable which I wasn’t able to procure. And to be honest, I didn’t really want to cut any wires as those audio cables can be a real pain sometimes. Moreover, the most important difference between both was, that the second one involved using a 3.5mm extension cable, as opposed to the first one. So, in case, you feel like increasing the length of the wire, just replace the cable with a longer extension cable. To achieve the same in the first tutorial, you would have to remove the joints on the cable, add a new cable, again make the joints on the wire, insulate it, etc. which is a very painful job as compared to the second one
I normally do some basic electronic projects involving LEDs, but nothing more than that. So, I had to go through all the diagrams/schematics carefully to get a hang of things(drawbacks of not being from an electronics background).
Alright. Now you might ask me, “Why would I read your tutorial if there are plenty of them out there?”
Here’s why :
So once again, after going through all the schematics/circuit diagrams shown in both the tutorials I could merge the simplicity of the second tutorial with the functionality of the first tutorial. This is the reason why I wish to present the most feasible and safe solution to all of you.
I thought, I could use the 3.5mm female jack that was used in the second tutorial in the first one and connect the push buttons and the toggle switch to this 3.5mm female jack instead of connecting it directly to a 2.5mm cable (which I am not able to get my hands on). For the other end(i.e the camera), I could use a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter which would be plugged into the camera and a 3.5mm extension cable would be used to connect the 3.5mm female jack and the 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter. This way, I could extend the reach of the remote by simply using a longer extension cable. The smile got even bigger and I began going through all my stuff to see what all I had.
Luckily, I had a film canister and a 3.5mm extension cable. So I just went to the local electronics shop to get the rest of the stuff.
So here is what you will need:
- Film Canister
- A toggle switch
- 2 Push buttons (preferably red and black)
- 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter
- 3.5mm female jack
- 3.5mm extension cable
- And basic tools like pliers, scissors, etc
Okay. Here is a small overview of what this is about.
- This remote will be used to remotely focus and trigger the shutter of the camera.
- This remote will have 3 buttons/switches : one for focus, one for shutter and the third one would be for ‘bulb’ exposure(shutter speed>30s).
The best thing about this project is that , there is no electric current involved as such. So you need not fear of damaging any part in the camera if you made a wrong connection.
First things first. Even though I was thorough with the schematics in the tutorials, practically, I wasn’t sure which connector on the 3.5mm female jack would do what. I knew the longest one was Ground, but that’s it. I had read in one of the tutorials that we could do some trial and error to check which connector would do what, by simply combining the longest connector(ground) with each of the two other connectors. I just did that. The 3.5mm female jack that I had, had two smaller connectors. One was the same color as the ground connector and the other one was a bit rusty in color. To do the trial and error, what I did is plugged the 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter into the camera, and I hooked up the 3.5mm extension cable into it and I put the other end of the cable into the 3.5mm female jack. I hooked up a wire to the Ground of the female jack and connected it to each of the other two connectors. When I connected it to the rusty connector, the shutter was triggered, while with the other one, the camera would focus. So I got to know which connector would do what.
Now, the next task was to make the connections. For that, we need to follow this schematic:
The red line of the shutter release switch would go to the rusty colored connector on the 3.5mm female jack while the blue would go to the other smaller connector and the black line is the ground cable which is connected to the longest connector. For the ground, which is common, I have connected all ground terminals of all the switches and then taken a common lead to the female jack. All in all, my setup looks like this. just refer the schematic above and you would do just fine.
Now comes the part where we fit the setup in the film canister. I chose to fit the female 3.5mm jack at the bottom of the canister, and the switches on its lid. If you have a drill, it would be easy to get the holes done. But if not, you could simply use a scissor or something pointed. I don’t have a drill, so I have done this with my scissor. Here is how my remote looks at the end.
So this is how it would look. The 3.5mm extension cable would be connected to the female jack at one end and the 2.5mm adapter at the other end.
This is how it works.
- If the picture frame is well lit, press the focus push button and wait for the camera to focus(just like the half press of the shutter button on the camera).
- Then release the focus button and press the shutter push button to take a pic. This way, the camera focuses first. And then again focuses quickly when you press the shutter push button.
- If the picture frame is not well lit, or if the subject is moving, press the focus push button and wait for the camera to focus. Once the autofocus is done, while keeping the focus button pressed, press the shutter push button and release it to take the picture. In this use, the camera only focuses once, preventing possible blurry pictures from trying to focus quickly.
I clicked a few pics with this remote once it was done and it worked great.
Any suggestions are welcome.
NOTE: This remote should work with much more cameras provided they use the same 2.5mm jack for the remote and use the same circuitry.
“The best way out is always through“