Intro: Long-Range Canon DSLR Video Trigger (V2, Greatly Simplified)
This is a re-visit of my first Instructable (found here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Remote-Canon-DSLR-Video-Trigger/). That version worked just fine, but was a bit expensive, a bit big and heavy, and certainly way more complicated than it needed to be. It did have some nice features, like a beep to start recording, and a blinking light to indicate recording had been triggered, but overall, that was the "Bringing a gun to a knife fight" approach.
This is a much simpler, cheaper, quicker and easier to build version that does the same thing: Triggers the video recording function on a Canon DSLR from a long distance (ie. well beyond 3-5 meter (12-16ft) range of an IR remote). This hack enables you to trigger your DSLR video record function from at least 150ft, possibly up to 300ft (depending on how capable your remote is).
When is this useful? Solo filming (Survivorman-style), having your camera at the end of a jib arm, in a tree, strapped to the outside of a car, or any other inconvenient-to-push-record-button location.
A simple IR remote works fine if you are in front of the camera and close enough for the camera to pick up the IR from the remote.
How this hack works:
The receiver of the wireless RF trigger is connected to the IR remote to act like the "2S" button. When the button on the RF remote transmitter is pressed, the IR remote acts like the 2S button has been pushed, which sends an IR signal your Canon DSLR to start recording video. (Of course, you have to have the IR remote pointed at the IR receiver on your DSLR for this to work).
Step 1: What You Need.
Let's get started! Here is what you are going to need:
- Wireless RF Shutter Release for Canon - I am using one sold as "Alzo Wireless Radio Shutter Release" on Amazon. Make sure it has the 2.5mm plug - $20 - 30
- IR remote for Canon camera - Canon RC-1 compatible, it needs to have the "2S" option, which is what triggers the video when the camera is in video mode. I am using a "Shoot" branded one, again bought from Amazon (also available on Ebay for cheap) - $3 - 4
- 2.5mm (3/32") stereo female jack - I got mine at Vetco.net, but RadioShack should have them too. - $0.99
- Small bit of wire (24-gauge, or something else pretty thin)
- Velcro with a self-adhesive backing - $3
Total Cost: < $40
- Soldering iron
- Wire strippers
- Miniature Phillips head screwdriver
- Dremel tool or drill
- Multi-meter (helpful but not absolutely necessary)
- Hot glue gun (again, not necessary, but handy for increasing the durability)
Step 2: Start Hacking.
We will start with setting up the 2.5mm female jack.
First step is to determine which terminal is the tip and which is the ring. Please see this website for an explanation of the pinout for a Canon shutter release: http://www.camerahacker.com/RS60-E3_pin-out/pin-out.php
We need to connect the tip (#3) to the sleeve (#1) in order to trigger, we don't care about focus for our purposes. The sleeve is easy, it will be the long "ground" bit on the jack. Determining the tip might be a little trickier. There are several ways to do it, but however you do, you want to ensure that you have the correct tab connected to the tip wire. The tab on the jack I had to solder mine to had square corners, and was copper colored (as opposed to the ring or #2 connector, which was silver, and had rounded corners).
Once you are figured out, solder your wires to the correct pins on the jack. Leave enough wire to get to where you need it to go on the PCB (See Step 4). Screw the cover on the jack after you are done, so you don't forget later and have to un-solder stuff from your board.
Next is on to disassembling the IR remote.
This step is pretty easy. First remove the battery and set it, and the battery tray off to the side Peel off the top skin (the side with the buttons) off the IR remote. You may need to work a knife (carefully) under a corner to get it started. It should peel off with a bit of resistance. Set this aside somewhere with the sticky side up, be careful not to get this dirty, as we will need to stick it back on when we are done.
After the top is peeled off, remove the 7 miniature Philips head screws and pop the PCB (circuit board) out.
Step 3: Prepping the Case.
You will need to do a bit of work to the IR remote case.
In order to connect the jack to the board on the inside of the remote, you will need to run the wires in. First, determine where along the side of the case you want your wires to enter. I chose to mount my jack with the hole facing the bottom of the remote. Then I simply drilled a hole in the side of the case with my Dremel tool that was large enough and routed the wires in.
The other thing you will need to do is make sure you have enough room for the wires to run to where you connect them once you screw the circuit board back down. The internal dividers support the PCB while you are pushing buttons, but you will probably have to grind/cut down a few of them in order to give your wires a little room. Take a look at the connection points in the next step, then figure out where your wires will run.
The last thing I did to my case is grind away a little relief by the IR LED towards the bottom of the remote case. This was just to give a little more room for the IR light to make it to my camera sensor. Probably not necessary, but it makes me feel better.
Step 4: Soldering Things Up.
Now it's time to melt some stuff.
Heat up your soldering iron, this is where it starts to come together. Really the most critical part of this step is determining where to connect your wires to the circuit board. We want out RF trigger to act like the "2S" button, so if you match up where that button is on the back of the PCB, and follow the traces, you will see there is a set of holes along the traces on each side of the switch. We want to solder a wire into one set of holes on one side, and one wire on the other side. See the pictures below for the actual locations of the holes (The spots on the PCB circled in marker in the second picture).
*IMPORTANT UPDATE* It looks like there is a new version of the board in the remote and they have changed the PCB slightly. See the 3rd picture for the new hole locations to solder the wires to.
The wires need to be soldered onto the component side of the circuit board. You will need to scrape away a bit of the mask covering the copper on the PCB by the holes in order for it to take. I simply used a knife to scrape a bit away.
Put the wires thru the hole in the side of the case, and run them to your attachment locations (this might be a little tricky, make sure you leave enough wire to get where you need to go.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: I found that you need to have the wires soldered to the board in the correct polarity for it to work. If you solder the wires on and find it doesn't work, try reversing where the wires are soldered. For reference, the red wire in the pictures below is the tip (or #3) and is soldered to the connection closest to the LED.
Solder away. If there are wire ends poking out the top side (button side) of the circuit board, make sure you snip them off flush after you have soldered them in.
Step 5: Bringing It All Back Together.
Time to secure reassemble and finish.
I like to add a little hot glue to keep things from getting yanked out. Just a few dabs around where the wire enters the case should do it to keep it from getting pulled out.
Put the PCB back down and re-insert all the Phillips head screws. If the PCB won't sit flat, make sure you have enough room for the wires under the PCB, and you didn't glob on too much hot glue.
Once the circuit board is screwed down, stick the button cover back down onto the top of the circuit board, making sure to carefully line it up where it belongs. You are now mostly done. I hot-glued the jack to the side of the case, but you can also let it flap freely, or use double-sided tape, duct tape, electrical tape, epoxy or anything else you have handy.
Re-insert the IR remote battery (this step is very important...)
Step 6: Testing and Using.
Time to shoot some video (from far, far away).
Ok, time to test and shoot on your camera. The whole key is that the IR remote can talk to the IR port on your camera. On my Canon 60D (and I believe most, if not all Canon cameras that shoot video), the IR receiver port is on the hand grip, on the left side of the camera (looking at the lens side of the camera). See the pictures below for an example of what it looks like.
I velcro the RF remote to the IR remote, then velcro'ed the whole mess to my camera. If the IR remote is positioned just below the IR port on the camera, it is still able to trigger the camera.
Steps to test and shoot.
1. Turn your DSLR on and set it to video mode.
2. Set your Automatic power off mode to a long enough timeout that your camera won't turn off before you get into position.
3. Set the drive mode to Timer/Remote (either 10 seconds or 2 seconds)
4. Turn on your RF remote receiver
5. Fully press the button on the RF Remote transmitter.
Your camera should start recording video. Press again to stop recording.
Some steps for troubleshooting:
- If you get nothing, try unhooking the RF remote and try the IR remote directly. It should work to trigger both pictures and video.
- Check/replace the batteries in all remotes
- Ensure your camera is set to the Timer/Remote drive mode (it won't work at all if you are not)
- Test your RF remote by plugging it in to the remote shutter release port on your camera directly.
- Switch the position of the wires soldered to the PCB on the IR remote.
- If you are in bright sunlight, you may have to shade the IR port on your camera from the direct sun.
Congratulations, you are now able to shoot video remotely from a pretty considerable distance.
Modifications and enhancements possible:
- I think with multiple receivers set to the same frequency (via the dipswitches on the remotes), you could simultaneously trigger multiple cameras with this method. (Theoretical, Untested)
- Hack apart both the RF remote and the IR Remote and incorporate them into one unit. I specifically wanted them as 2 separate units so I can still use the RF trigger on it's own to shoot photos if I want to.