Infra Red Intervalometer for Canon EOS M or Nikon D50

I love time lapse videos.

So when I got my first decent camera I could not wait to make one. The process is pretty simple. Find an interesting view, take a picture every few seconds, when you have a few hundred shots you can easily download software that will stitch these photos into a video.

Even with simple shots the effect can be amazing. Since normal video is shot at 24 frames a second if you have taken a picture every 5 seconds you end up with a video that is 120 times (5 x 24) faster than real life. Clouds, sunsets, construction projects the choices are endless.

In order to get the best effect shots need to be taken regularly. Most high end cameras will have a connection where a remote shutter release with a timer can be attached. These are called intervalometers (or at least that is what I typed into my favourite online marketplace) they can be bought online for less than £10! It was at this point I realised my camera did not have a socket to plug an intervalometer into.

The only way to release the shutter remotely for my current and previous camera is with an infra-red remote control. Thankfully these are only a few pounds online too.

This instructable is how to make an infra-red intervalomter. For about 15 pounds you can unleash your inner creativity!

Here is a link to a time-lapse my son took with this set up.

Step 1: What You Will Need.

In order to make this intervalometer you will need a couple of bits from Ebay or Amazon. They and doubtless loads of other places sell the following.

1) Infra-red remote for Canon EOS M (or what ever camera you have)

2) Cable intervalometer like the one I have shown in the introduction.

Both items should be easy to find and are pretty cheap.

Before you start hacking just give the remote a quick test. This will prove two things (A) compatibility with your camera and (B) you have not bought a dud!

Step 2: Open Up the Infra-red Remote.

A really easy step this one.

Gently peel off the front cover of the remote it is just attached to the rear with not especially strong glue. Do try to be gentle though because when you are done you can just re-attach the cover so try to preserve the glue as much as you can.

Step 3: Remove the Screws.

There are two screws you will need to remove to get the board out of the case ready for soldering.

Step 4: Here Is the Underside of the Board.

I have circled the two pins you are interested on the board. Now this may vary from remote to remote. I have done this for Canons and Nikons and both boards are identical, so if you buy one like the picture in step 1 you should be fine. Essentially you are looking for the circuit that is made when you press the button on the remote.

You can play around with a paper clip or some wire to see where you need to solder to.

Step 5: Attach the Intervalometer to the Remote.

Right this is where my photography misses a couple of steps. In fairness there was not much to capture. But sorry for the long step with no pictures!

The intervalometer you have chosen will come with a plug designed for another camera. You need to cut this off. If you are like me (a serial maker) you should cut the camera plug off with with a little bit of wire left on it, so if you actually buy the camera the intervalometer was actually made for you can reattach it. So if you fancy and EOS 5D MKIII at some time you might as well buy an invervalometer for this camera!

Normally the wires inside perform the same function. One pair will send the signal to the camera telling it to focus, and one pair will tell the camera to release the shutter.

You will need to work out which is which. Strip all the wires to expose the copper on the Intervalometer side. Next buzz out the wires. I did this with a multimeter, it's pretty easy really. Set the meter to check for continuity, then press the shutter release button (firmly) on the intervalometer and see if you can see any wires that are showing a circuit, let go of the button make sure the circuit breaks. The reason to press the button firmly is so you find the shutter release not the focus pair.

Once you have identified the shutter release pair, prepare them to solder them to the IR remote circuit board. Tin the wires with your soldering iron. Carefully thread the tinned wires through two holes circled in the previous step, so it looks like the shot above. Then solder it up. I found this to be quite tricky the board seems to be far harder to make the solder take to than most boards I solder, but stick at it you will get the wires attached.

Step 6: Give It a Test!

Once you have the solder sorted, re-assemble the board, put the battery in and give it a test.

If this works great! Move to the next step.

If not, my suggestions are as follows:-

1) Make sure the camera is still in the mode that will fire the shutter with the IR remote.

2) Try shorting the wires you have just soldered to the board with a paper clip or other conductive item while pointing the remote at the camera. If this works, check your solder connection, as I said I have found soldering to these boards very tricky.

3) Try reversing the holes you have connected your intervalometer wires to. You may have the polarity wrong.

Step 7: All Done!

If you are not particularly precious about the look of your finished product you could just wrap the re-assembled unit in some electrical tape to protect it.

However I made mine look quite neat by super glueing the cable to the plastic case of the IR remote. I then cut a notch in the sticky cover that I peeled off in step 2. I reattached the top cover using the original glue. This made the unit look quite smart and was more than tough enough to enable the unit to put up with my wear and tear.

If you intend to do this I have a top tip for you. Take the battery and the battery tray out of the IR remote before you apply and super glue. Do not reinsert the battery tray until you are quite sure the glue is completely dry.

I did not do this and ended up glueing my battery tray to the case making it impossible to replace the battery. Once the unit was flat I could not replace the battery! The only benefit I have been able to harvest from this mistake was to photograph the assembly of my replacement and to write this instructable.

I hope this is useful to you. Give it a go, it is a pretty easy but very satisfying project, with lots of options for creativity once you have got it working.



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    2 years ago

    This is great! Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community!