Introduction: How to Build a Shutter Release Cable for the Canon EOS Rebel T3i

Introduction

One of the things that plague photography, particularly long exposure photography is unintentional blurring of the image, often caused by knocking of the camera.

The best defense against blurred pictures is to use a tripod and follow the rule "hands off the camera". But how do you take a photo with your hands off the camera?

IR Remote Control
An IR remote control works pretty much the same as the remote you use to turn your TV on and off, except instead of turning the tele on and off the IR Remote Control for your camera allows you to take photos, and in some cases control basic attributes of the camera.

Problem with an IR remote control is that it doesn't work to well in bright conditions and it requires batteries as well as requires you to be roughly in front of the camera.

Shutter Release Cable
A shutter release cable is basically a device that connects to the camera and either electronically or mechanically manipulates the camera shutter button.

On the Canon EOS Rebel T3i it is an electronic remote that often has an intervalometer and other smarts built in.

These range from about $40 on ebay (some have a timer, others are just a button) all the way up to $70+ for the smarty pants ones that are wireless.

The funny thing is though, there isn't all that much to building your own and it doesn't cost all that much in both time and money.

Step 1: Disclaimer

Legal Crap

I claim no responsibility if you break your camera building this accessory, some how electrocute yourself with the flash capacitor or kill a kitten or inflict or receive any harm or misfortune.

By undertaking this instructable you do so at your own risk.

Whilst I have made every best effort to insure this instructable is accurate given the fact I am not a professional there may be errors. If you find any please let me know either by PM or by posting on the instructable.

Now that we got the legal crap out of the way, lets get onto the building :)

Step 2: Shutter Release Pinout

The shutter release plug for the Canon EOS Rebel T3i is a 2.5mm Stereo plug aka TRS Plug.

The pin out is as shown in the picture.

To take a photo one must ground the AF/Shutter wire and then whilst the AF/Shutter wire is grounded you ground the shutter release wire which results in a photo being taken.

Step 3: Bill of Materials

I bought all of my bits from Jaycar, a leading electronics retailer in Australia. You should be able to find the respective parts from places like Farnell, Digikey or Radioshack

Catalog Numbers and prices are listed for Jaycar Australia as of 18th of April 2012 and are in Australian Dollars

Required Parts/Components (Description - Cat Number - Price Each - Sub Total)
  • 1x 2.5mm stereo plug to 3.5mm stereo socket adapter - PA-3532 - $3.95 - $3.95
  • 1x 3.5mm Stereo panel mount socket - PS-0132 - $2.45 - $2.45
  • 2x Buttons (SPST, Momentary, Normally Open) - SP-0710 - $1.65 - $3.30
  • Some solid core wire (e.g. prototyping wire)
  • 1x UB5 Jiffybox (iMac blue) - HB-6004 - $3.45 - $3.45
  • 1.5m (4ft 11 1/16 inches) 3.5mm Stereo Audio Lead - WA-7008 - $4.95 - $4.95

Total: $18.10 AUD

Required Tools
  • Soldering Station
  • Solder (I used 60/40 tin lead, you can use lead free if you wish)
  • Cordless Drill
  • Safety Glasses
  • 2mm drill bit
  • 2.5mm drill bit
  • 3.3mm drill bit
  • 4.0mm drill bit
  • 5.5mm drill bit
  • 6.5mm drill bit
  • Electricians Tape
  • Scissors
  • Multi-meter (optional but handy)

Step 4: Solder the Two Ground Wires to the Sleeve Lug

Get two of the wires and loop them through the sleeve lug (if unsure refer to picture)

Step 5: Solder a Wire to the Ring Lug

Solder a wire to the ring lug, this wire will end up being the AF/Half press button

Step 6: Solder the Last Free Wire to the Tip Lug

Solder the last wire to the tip lug, this will be the wire that goes to the shutter release button.

Step 7: Solder the Buttons to the Wire Loom

Take one of your button and solder the ground wire and the tip wire to the button

Then take the remaining button and solder the remaining wires to it.

(In the picture the yellow wire is the shutter release/half and the blue/black wires are ground)

This step concludes the soldering :)

Step 8: Test It

Before you go and start building the enclosure, it's best to test your wiring to make sure it works.

Use the 2.5mm - 3.5mm stereo plug adapter to connect your 3.5mm stereo lead to your camera.

Then connect your wiring loom.

Turn on the camera and press one of the buttons. It's easiest to do this with live view on.

Check to see if the focus rectangle has gone green. If so the button you have pressed is the AF/Half Shutter. Note that with the shutter button it will also change colours but in my experience it usually changes to orange instead of green.

While still holding the AF button, press the shutter button. The camera should take a photo, if not, try the procedure again but the other way around.

Mark the wire with some tape or permanent marker so you know which one is which.

Step 9: Build the Enclosure - Installing the Hardware

Note
When building the enclosure you need to bare in mind that the jiffy boxes are made of reasonably fragile plastic so thus care must be taken when drilling holes.

Preparation
Get some of the sparkie tape (electrician's tape) and use it to tape the closure shut (this will reduce the risk of cracking the enclosure)

Installing the buttons
  1. Get the 2.5mm drill bit and drill your first hole in the side of the enclosure
  2. Next, enlarge the hole with a 3.3mm drill bit
  3. Then 4.0mm
  4. Then 5.5mm
  5. And finally the 6.5mm bit.
  6. Test the side of the hole with the button, if it doesn't fit, gently use the scissors to enlarge the hole.
  7. Install the button
  8. Rinse and repeat the above (1-7) for the second button
  9. Label the buttons with their function

Installing the 3.5mm stereo socket
  1. Drill a 2.5mm hole in the bottom of the enclosure
  2. Use the same pattern above as shown in steps 1-4
  3. Test the hole, if its too small for the socket then use the scissors again to enlarge the hole until it fits
Attaching the lid
The jiffy boxes have a nasty tenancy for the screws to get stuck and then you end up stripping the head. To avoid this I drill out the stand offs to make the hole a little larger.

NOTE:Only follow these instructions if you got your Jiffybox from Jaycar, other jiffy boxes may use smaller/larger fasteners and may even work without requiring this drilling
  1. Drill out the standout posts with a 2.5mm drill bit, do this slowly to avoid damaging the plastic
  2. Attach the lid to the enclosure
  3. SLOWLY screw in the lid, if you screw it in too fast the plastic could cease up and cause you to strip the head off the screw

Step 10: Finished Product

Here it is the finished product.

Hope you all have enjoyed my first proper instructable and I hope it makes your life in photography easier :)

Step 11: How to Use

Ingredients
  • 1x shutter release remote
  • 1x 2.5mm plug to 3.5mm socket (stereo) *
  • 1x 3.5mm plug to 3.5mm 1.5m long stereo audio lead *
* Can be substituted with a 2.5mm plug to 3.5mm plug lead if the 2.5mm plug isn't too big.

Procedure
  1. Connect the adapter to your lead
  2. Connect the adapter to your camera
  3. Connect the other end of the lead to the remote
  4. Depress the AF/Half Shutter button to "arm" the camera
  5. Press the shutter button to take a photo.

Comments

author
AnnaC43 (author)2015-12-18

I have a headphone cable that is 2.5 mm on both ends. Will this work to trigger my camera when hooked from the camera to a wireless shutter. (The camera doesn't have a wireless receiver, so I'm trying to use the transmitter in a wired fashion.) Thanks!

author
Raitis made it! (author)2015-04-14

Thanks for adding the plug pinout in picture, didn't even need anything else to make one. (:

IMG_1557-2.jpg
author
jacynthe.hart (author)2015-01-18

You can buy these off ebay for like 3 dollars.

author
skrix (author)2015-01-11

Hi mbainrot, I recently built a similar system, but cheaper. I used Jaycar's 2-button remote keyfob case (HB5605), 2 metres of stereo coaxial cable (WB1504), 2 tactile PCB-mount buttons (SP0601) and a 90-degree 2.5mm TPS plug (PP0104). In total it was $9.60 and it's nice and small and robust.

author
dan3008 (author)2014-07-01

Making :D will have to post back when i'm done :)

author
sentientintelligence (author)2014-05-09

There is a 3rd option to trigger the shutter without your hands on the camera: the self timer. Setup your scene and set the shutter to self-timer, depress the shutter release and take your hands off. Depending on your tripod and focal length, 2 seconds might not be enough for the vibrations to die out, so go for 10 seconds.

Personally I have only ever used the 10s option with telescopes.

author
reoozeit (author)2013-06-29

If anyone is going to decide to do this great project themselves, whether it be with cables with 3.5mm and adapters or with 2.5mm cables, make sure you pay close attention to the type of cable (and socket) you get. you need the type shown which is basically a "stereo" type plug where you have 2 separate wires(normally right and left channel audio) and ground(s). If you look at the pictures, there are 2 dark stripes which are insulators separating each of the 2 channels and the ground, thus making 3 electrically-separate sections on the plug. Don't go home with the wrong parts and try to make it, and then have to get the right parts. Easy mistake I would make. Just helping you all to get the right parts the first time.

author
yoyology (author)2012-04-18

I love this explanation of how everything functions. Makes it very easy to understand how to make one. I only wish that my PowerShot G6 would take one of these.

I am curious, though, why you didn't just wire in a cable with a 2.5mm plug at the end instead of the jack/cable/adaptor rig. Just using what you have, or is there another rationale?

author
mbainrot (author)yoyology2012-04-20

I bought all the parts to do it (2.5mm plug and a 3.5mm line socket), then it started to bucket down with lots of wind and I didn't want to get my camera wet. (Whilst where I work is under cover, it's not enclosed)

You can get a 2.5mm plug to 3.5mm plug but I found the ones locally available the 2.5mm plug's sheath was too big.

author
reoozeit (author)mbainrot2013-06-29

I personally like this method better because many times cables get damaged or go bad and doing it this way, you replace the cable and you are done, without desoldering, stripping delicate cables, resoldering the new ones, etc. Just my preference maybe, but I would definitely do it this way if I was to choose.

author
fgramsch (author)2013-04-30

Awesome Bro!!! thanks a lot!
searched a very long time for a tutorial like this, and now my 600D has a remote shutter:D

author
arvjohn13 (author)2012-05-03

Hello mbrainrot,
I am interested in making this cable and would like to know if it will work with my Canon EOS 550D??
and also that can I use a 2.5mm socket instead of the 3.5mm one, so as to reduce the use of the 2.5 to 3.5mm converter..??

author
toyowner (author)2012-04-18

Sorry. Programable shutter release cables are available on Amazon for under $20. several different functions and bulb features.

author
WolfDog09 (author)toyowner2012-04-19

Amazon isn't available in Australia, it is too expansive to send.

author
mbainrot (author)WolfDog092012-04-19

It is available, it's how I got my DSLR and depends on the parcel size as to cost.

Main reason I prefer to make stuff is so then I don't have to wait, takes from 3-4 days to a week even with the priority shipping from Amazon via DHL.

It's too expensive to get stuff from America if you go through the wrong carrier (e.g. a carrier that packs your stuff in caviare or gold leaf) or your getting a large/bulky/heavy parcel.

author
Higgs Boson (author)2012-04-18

This is very cool! In fact I need one of these for a project I am working on, but unless you have the parts lying around it would probably be cheaper to order one on amazon. From my last search they were selling a lot of them for around $10.00. Very cool instructable though.

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Bio: Builder, Programmer, Electronics Enthusiast, DIYer
More by mbainrot:How to build a shutter release cable for the Canon EOS Rebel T3iConstruction of my mains powered camera capacitor charger.
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