Pentax (and Others) DSLR Cable Shutter Release From Hands-free Cell Phone Kit


Introduction: Pentax (and Others) DSLR Cable Shutter Release From Hands-free Cell Phone Kit

About: I'm a digital artist from South Philadelphia. I love to make things and share. I hope you dig my stuff!

I'm trying to get into HDR photography, which usually requires some very long exposure shots. The best way to do this is with a tripod and a shutter release. I got the tripod off Craigslist, but the shuuter release was too expensive for me, so I set off to make my own. This is inspired by this tutorial for a Canon DSLR.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

To keep this on the cheap, I kept it minimal. The most expensive item was the hands-free phone kit; on sale for $10. Check the comments. One was found at a dollar store. $1!
(1) Hands-free cell phone kit
IMPORTANT: The DSLRs take a 3/32" stereo plug. See the picture for details.
(2) Momentary buttons (two colors)
(1) Mini micro switch
(1) Enclosure, for me a wonderfully ironic 35mm film canister
extra wire

Drill & bits
Soldering iron and solder
Wire stripping tools
Mad Skillz (which you have, because you're cool enough to find this)

Step 2: Break Open the Mic

Be destructive, but gentle
You may not get the same model kit, so some experimentation is required.
Inside the microphone box was a tiny circuit board hooked to 4 wires. I plugged in the kit to my camera for testing. Don't worry, there' s no current in these wires. I took my knife and shorted various combinations and observed the results. I found that two are ground wires, and the other two have functions:
Red: focus
White: shutter
Copper: ground
Blue: ground
By connecting the Red to a ground, the camera focused. Wonderful news.

We will now make button to do this work for us.

Step 3: Solder Up the Connections

Using the diagram below from Roger Cline, Assemble and solder your buttons and switch. Test it often to avoid mistakes. When you're done, protect from short circuits with some tape.

Step 4: Make an Enclosure

Here I used an empty 35mm film can from the girlfriend. I used the recycle symbol on the bottom to perfectly align my three controls and poked holes for drilling. Then using a similar bit to the one recommended on the button packaging, I drilled 3 holes.

Step 5: Mount Stuff

This may be the trickiest step. Maneuver the three controls toward their respective spots. A long pair of needle-nosed pliers help out a lot. Also, the switch has a little groove that the washer uses to stay straight. You'll have to see it. It can be tricky. Tighten them all down and you're set. Test again of course.

Step 6: Test and Troubleshoot

So this step is kind of unnecessary if your buttons work.

But if they don't work, don't fret. Be very patient, take it apart, and test your soldering again. That's always where it fails.

Also when you coil all the extra cable into the canister, use a bit of tape to keep the complicated end of your project inside the can.

Below is a picture of the shutter release in action!

2 People Made This Project!


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Great instructable! Can't wait to try and make one. One question though, I feel like I'm missing something, why doesn't the remote need to be powered? Is there a voltage difference from the camera through the jack which powers the switches?

eagleapex, nice instructable with cheaper parts.

I'd love it if you went from 'cheaper' parts, to totally 'cheap' parts or scavenged/free parts.

of stuff around the home, or in the free listings at
craigslist/freestuff will contain the momentary toggle switch. Saves
spending $4-9 at radio shack.

And you need to advise people to
look deeply into their attics or basement storage areas for old
electronics to recycle. A headset will not always get recycled into
another headset; but it is just as useful ! Phone extension cables will not always be recycled for phones; yet they are infinitely useful.

Thanks again for the instructable, and consider changing the title from "Pentax cable" to "Pentax & other camera cable".

1 reply

I'm glad you liked it! I'll change the title a bit.

Here is mine. For reasons unknown I am being told to not take it to the airport.

4 replies

haha looks like a "clacker"

lol just remember to take off your shoes

Nonsense. Enjoy your freedom while it lasts!

And, since I forgot to say, this was really rather easy and I think you for posting it. . . worked out beautifully.

Is it work with Canon D60?

 Thank You.  I couldn't use it because the Pentax k-x doesn't have a physical shutter release input.. but the instructable led me to search Ebay where I found a new infrared one for 4 dollars.

Thanks for the build. I hope it works well for you.

Excellent! Will be working on this over the July 4th weekend.

Bloody brilliant. Those things are ridiculously overpriced...I can think of many uses for this--setting up auto-triggers and such.

I just finished mine in time for a Christmas present for my girlfriend. I tried it out on her Pentax K10D, and it works as advertised. I wasn't willing to shell out $30+ for the commercial one. I had all the parts on hand in my junk box, and mounted these in an empty Oral-B "Satin Floss" dental floss container that I thought several months ago was too cute to throw away. The ergonomics of the dental floss case by itself felt a little uncomfortable, so I grafted on a smaller matching dental floss container that I got as a freebie from my dentist. The 3/32" cable assembly is from a broken set of headphones, and is a generous 4+ ft long. I decided to connect this to the case via a standard 1/8" stereo plug and jack. This allows the cable to be replaceable as well as allows the use of a standard stereo headphone extension cable. Plus I can use the cable assembly with a time lapse shuttle release gizmo (also on Instructables), which is probably my next project. Nice Instructable. Thanks!


Unfortunately, my Pentax IST *dL does not support manual shutter release, even with a remote. It does, however, support autofocusing and timed shutter release with remote. I was hoping I would be able to gain the ability to leave the shutter open indefinitely with this remote, however, that is not the case. Oh well. Thanks for the cool instructable that saved me $30 and will improve my photography!

4 replies

I just made one for my *ist DL and it works fine on the bulb setting for me (open shutter indefinitely). I don't know if it eventually times out but it works just like the shutter button on mine. One button for half press, the other button for full press. Thanks for the instructable.

Wow.... Wingman, I also run a Pentax *IST DL and have built several of these for myself and a few friends who also run Pentax *IST DL and Pentax K10D cameras. I can verify that this will work with the camera. The circuit works an absolute treat. I normally buy the parts from Jaycar here is AU and build them from scratch.. On the camera, opposite side to where you put the memory card, there is another door. Open the door and there inside are three sockets. The top one is for the external cable release. Also if you ever need a replacement IR remote you can get one of those programmable television ones and set it to a sharp television. (I think. Been a long time since I programmed mine) This will also control the camera through the IR port.

The key tidbit that I needed to know was that the camera must be on "bulb" mode. Once I figured that out, my cable shutter release worked perfectly.

Okedoke... Yep would definitely need bulb mode to use the toggle switch in the circuit properly.