Introduction: Cable Release Mount for Olympus SP-350 Digital Camera

This camera is great for copying documents, and much faster than using a flat bed scanner. I am principally interested in quickly copying printed or handwritten pages to create readable digital images, rather than to create high-fidelity images which are exact duplicates of the original, or that may be OCR'ed to create text or PDF files of the original.

I'd like to copy dozens of pages in one session, but there are 2 limiting factors, (1) positioning the pages, (2) the necessity to reach back to trigger the camera, which might blur the image or even misalign the camera.

This instructable offers a solution for (2), by a method which, as far as I know, has never been proposed on the internet.

Unlike the analog SLR and rangefinder 35mm cameras of yore, most modern digital cameras provide no way to attach a standard cable release (see extreme closeup below of the SP-350's shutter button and of a standard 35mm film camera's shutter button), and there are few such cameras for which there are commercially available remote or cable shutter releases.

This instructable uses epoxy putty to create a custom mount, molded to the shape of the camera, which provides a base to connect a standard cable release to the camera & allows it to trigger the shutter.

Outside of a patch of velcro glued to the front of the camera body, the camera is not modified at all.

The epoxy base is held to the camera with Velcro strapping, and the cable release is glued permanently into the base. Release of the Velcro straps allows the base to be removed from the camera. I only wish it were more attractive looking.

Step 1: Materials Needed - Epoxy Putty

Epoxy Putty (which is not the same as epoxy glue) is available at many hardware stores & at WalMart. Both components are packaged side by side and are of a firm, doughy consistency. To activate the putty, you cut off a portion, knead it until it turns from its blue & white color to an all white color. You have 5 minutes to work it, and its curing is complete in about 45 minutes. It gives off some heat while curing.

Step 2: Materials Needed - Disposable Gloves

Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling uncured epoxy putty.
Besides being allergenic, the putty is sticky. Plastic gloves are the best way of handling this material before it cures and will help keep you from ultimately developing an allergic reaction to it. I've used this material for years & would rather not develop health problems from it. Your fingers need to be very agile in the molding of this device and the implantation of the cable release.

Step 3: Materials Needed - Plastic Wrap

I mentioned the camera is not modified. To keep your fingers from smearing epoxy all over the camera, it should be completely covered in a layer of thin plastic food wrap.
Later on, as the epoxy cures, you can easily remove the molded material and pull the plastic wrap off the epoxy.

Step 4: Materials Needed - Shutter Release Cable

I bought one of these decades ago for an SLR that I still have. It has a standard tapered thread on the end that mates with the socket that used to be standard on 35 mm film cameras of decades ago.

Step 5: Materials Needed - Velcro Strips and Patch

Two different kinds of velcro are used for this project.

One size is cut in strips 8" long by 1/2" wide, with one end flared wider with a slot that accepts the other end, and designed to wrap up cables and wires. It is available at office supply stores, among other places. The packaging was marked "Velcro brand straps: Reusable Ties" and comes in a pack of 50 for $4.99, Part 20822371 at OfficeMax, for example. Two of these pieces are used, to snug the mold against the camera body and provide counterpressure to resist the tendency of the cable to push itself away from the shutter button.
After completing this project, you can use the other 48 reusable ties to secure the lines of some of your wall warts, USB cables, AC power lines, earphone cables, extension cords, antenna coax, etc., etc., etc. I buy 1-2 of these packs per year.

The other piece of velcro is usually labeled Velcro Sticky-Back tape, 3/4" wide by 2 inches long. This adheres to the right front of the camera below the shutter button, and provides one surface to hold the other two velcro strips in place. This is the one bit that remains on the camera when the cable release portion is not in use.

Step 6: Prepping the Epoxy

Remove batteries from camera to prevent turning it on while you are working on it.
Insure you will not be interrupted for the next 5 minutes.
Don disposable gloves.
Remove the epoxy plug from its holder.
Remove the aluminum on the end.
Cut off about an inch of the putty from the roll. Roll the material back & forth under the knife edge as the edge is pressed down toward the center of the roll.
Before doing anything else with the epoxy that was cut off, put the aluminum cap on the end you are saving, the roll back in its holder & the plastic cap back on the holder.
Remove & discard the plastic covering over the epoxy cutoff. Then quickly knead the epoxy, like bread dough, until the color is uniform. Remember you have just 5 minutes before it hardens. The color will go from swirls of blue & white to a uniform white, and the material will warm up slightly.

Step 7: Molding Putty Over Shutter Button Covered in Plastic

Apply the ball of putty firmly over the shutter button, press repeatedly to make the putty conform to the underlying surfaces. Visualize the finished product illustrated on the first panel.

Be careful to not apply putty so that it will interfere with the rotation of the Mode Dial later, or with the microphone grill in the front, or with the Multi-connector cover on the right side. Do not taper the edges too thin, else they will break off when putty hardens. The hardened epoxy is like hard plastic, not like metal.

If you screw this up too badly, remember the unused portion of the putty. You can do this again until you get it right.

You must work fairly quickly before the epoxy hardens. When the mold has a proper shape, it must still be soft enough for the cable end to be pushed into it. The portion of the mold directly over the shutter button must be mounded up to support the end of the cable.

Step 8: Pushing Cable End Into Mold

You will have to form a 3-dimensional mental image of the location of the shutter button at this point, and point the end of the cable at the center of the button as you imagine it, so that the movement of the cable will be perpendicular to the shutter button's surface.

When you believe you have pushed the cable down near the top of the shutter button, push the other end of the cable release up & down to create a passageway within the epoxy that will be free & clear when it hardens, but brace the mold & cable structure with your other hand. If you don't brace it properly, the cable end will simply back up out of the mold as the cable's button is pressed.

Now simply hold everything in position as the putty hardens. You can feel the increasing hardness of the material as you hold the assembly. Within 5 minutes it should be firm enough to pull it away from the camera, taking the plastic wrap with it.

Step 9: Pulling Mold Off Camera With Plastic Wrapping.

The mold is almost hard. Pulling it off the camera will take the plastic wrapping with it. At this point, pull the wrapping away from the mold & discard the wrap.

Step 10: Applying Velcro Straps

Note there is a gray strap & a black Velcro reusable strap. Contrasting colors were chosen to make installation easier to photograph.

Put the other end of the cable release through the open end of one strap, and run it down the cable to the mold itself. Pushing the cable fully in helps get the Velcro's oblong hole over the end of the cable.

Do the same with the other strap, be careful that the straps present the same surface (either hook surface or eye surface) to the camera, so that the straps will adhere to each other when tightened.

I put a small machine bolt into the mold and a cable tie on the camera's right strap anchor in case I needed additional velcro supports, but these turned out to be unnecessary. Ignore them.

Adjust the straps as shown. Don't pull them so snug as to jam the Mode Dial.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

I want to polish this entire presentation later, but thought someone might appreciate seeing this even in an unpolished way. I have still to show the Velcro sticky backed material on the front of the camera's body, a video of installing & removing the device, and another video of using the device to copy many documents in sequence.