Introduction: Wired Remote Control for Sony NEX 5n Camera

What this tutorial is:

A tutorial on how to build a wired remote control for the Sony NEX 5n camera. Because the camera only supports IR remote control, this is essentially an IR-to-wired conversion that 1) does not require modifying your camera, 2) costs under $35, and 3) leaves you with a working IR remote control as well so you can use it in either wireless or wired mode.

What this tutorial is not:

This is not a tutorial on proper technique with respect to soldering, dremeling, or the application of superglue. I'm going to assume you are capable of doing all three. If not, you may want to brush up on those first.

Tools you will need:

1. A pocket knife or Exacto knife.
2. A tiny phillips head screwdriver for disassembling the remote control.
3. A dremel tool for reshaping the circuit board and remote control housing.
4. A soldering iron, solder, and flux (or flux-core solder).
5. Scissors are optional.

Step 1: Purchase the Materials

These are the supplies you will need. Buy one of each if you don't have them already. They can all be purchased from RadioShack (in store or online) and Amazon. The reason we use the 3/32" jack is because it fits better on the remote control, but 1/8" is far more common. Hence there is a 3/32" to 1/8" adapter and then the rest of the cabling is 1/8" all the way to the camera. We will also use stereo jacks and cables because it is more difficult to find mono jacks and cables. The final IR emitter has a mono jack, but that will plug into the stereo cables just fine.

1. Radioshack - 3/32" male to 1/8" female stereo adapter - Part # 274-373

2. Radioshack - 3/32" submini phone jacks - Part # 274-0245

3. Radioshack - Magnet wire (enamel coated wire) - Part # 278-1345
**** you will need some really, really thin wire to run inside the remote control. I recommend getting a pack of this stuff, but you can use other super-thin wire if you like.

4. Amazon - Channel Vision IR-3001 Signle IR Emitter

5. Amazon - 1/8" (3.5mm)  stereo extension cable
**** this one is 25ft - you choose what length of cable you want for your remote.

6. Amazon - Opteka RC-3 Wireless Remote Control

Step 2: Dissassembly and Modification


See photo 1. The Opteka RC-3 remote control conists of a plastic backing, a battery tray, a battery, a circuit board, screws that hold the circuit board down, and a thin sheet of plastic stuck to the face of it all. Use a pocket knife to peel up the face of the remote. Take care not to get the sticky side dirty because this will go back on later. Remove the screws from the circuit board and pop the circuit board out.

Scrape out the corner tab:

See photo 2. We're going to install the 3/32" audio jack in the upper left corner. This requires removing the tab that is present in the corner. You can melt it out with your soldering iron, cut it out with a knife, etc. Make that corner as flat as possible so the audio jack will sit well in there.

Modify the audio jack:

See photo 3. Using the dremel and a cutoff wheel, cut off the contact protruding from the side of the audio jack (red line in the photo). We only want to leave the two in the rear. It may also help to round off the corner of the audio jack (green area in the photo).

Modify the circuit board:

See photo 4. The circuit board is largely bloated and we're going to remove a corner so that the audio jack can occupy it's space. Take a look at photo 4 for the section to cut. The cut needs to be just wide enough for the audio jack to fit down in the corner, and long enough to allow for the contacts. Note the chamfered section at the lower right in the photo. You will not be able to make a completely rectangular cut; this chamfer is absolutely necessary because of the way the copper is laid out on the reverse side of the circuit board. Flip it over and make sure you aren't cutting completely through that electrical connection.

Place the audio jack (IMPORTANT!):

See photo 4 again. The audio jack must be placed in the correct orientation for the rest of this tutorial to match up. Remember that side contact you previously cut off? That should point towards the LEFT. There is a plastic strip that lies underneath the remaining two contacts on the audio jack. To get the jack to sit flat against the bottom of the remote control housing you may need to grind that out with a dremel. One you're satisfied with how it sits, go ahead and superglue it in place as shown.

Step 3: Electrical Connections

Now we need to hook up the wires from the circuit board to the audio jack. We're going to run it in parallel with the existing IR emitter. When the wired connection is not connected, the original IR emitter will still output at full intensity. When the wired connection is connected, both the original IR emitter and the IR emitter hooked through the audio jack will output at half intensity. That's ok, because our wired emitter will be stuck to the face of the camera. High intensity output is not necessary.

Scratch off a couple pads to solder to:

See picture 1. We need a place to solder wires, and it's easier if you don't solder directly to the LED. Take a pocket knife or screwdriver and scratch the coating off the circuit board to form two copper pads just below the LED as shown in the picture.

Solder on a wire to each pad:

See picture 2. As shown in the picture, the left side should have the longest wire, and the right side should have the shortest wire. These should be sized properly so that when you set the circuit board back in the housing the wires will meet fairly well with the contacts on the audio jack. Picture 2 shows which wire connects to which side of the audio jack.

Solder the wires to the audio jack:

See picture 2 and 3. Picture 2 shows which wire connects to which side of the audio jack, and picture 3 shows what it looks like once they are soldered in. At this time you may find that there is some plastic in the way beneath the circuit board where your new wires are. If so, dremel it out so that your circuit board will sit flat as it should.

Cut the front face of the remote control:

See picture 3. Using scissors, an Exacto knife, or a dremel, notch out the corner of the face plate so that it fits snugly around the audio jack.

Step 4: Reassemble and Test

Replace all the screws in the circuit board. Put the face plate sticker back on. Put the battery tray back in. You're done!

Now your remote control should still function as an IR remote control. Test it and make sure. Don't forget to set your NEX drive mode to "Remote Control". It's under Camera -> Drive Mode.

Now plug the 3/32" male to 1/8" female adapter into the new jack on the remote control. Plug the IR emitter cable (and optionally a 1/8" stereo extension cable) into the adapter on the remote control. Stick the IR emitter over the receiver on the front of the camera. You should now have a working wired remote which does not require line of sight between you and the front of the camera.

See the attached photo for the complete setup.