For those unfamiliar with a Remote Cable Release, this device allows a photographer to shoot a picture without touching the camera. Using the remote ensures that the camera does not move during the exposure. This is especially useful for taking macro photographs, photographs with long exposure times or photographs in odd positions.
Olympus sells the E510 remote cable release (RM-UC1) for $56.99. A remote can be yours for the price of the supplied video output cable, an hour of your time and a $2.99 switch from Radio Shack.
These instructions will help you create a remote cable release that supports single shots, continuous shooting and bulb shooting (for timed exposures). This remote does not support the "half" button press for auto-focusing and metering. You'll have to do that on camera.
I have created a new model that does support "half button" press. Check out the Olympus Evolt E510 Remote Cable Release (Version 2 with Auto Focus on Remote).
You will need a decent soldering iron with a pencil thin tip, and a basic level of soldering ability to complete this process. You will probably need a bit of patience as well.
Cameras are wonderful things. They are also expensive things. If you are even a small bit afraid that you might damage your shiny new camera, this Instructable is probably not for you. This procedure worked very well for me. As far as I can tell, there's no danger to the camera or the user, but I could be wildly wrong.
Perhaps this Instructable will work for you too. Perhaps it will cause your cat to burst into flames. Use these instructions with care and at your own risk. I assume no responsibility for damage to you, your camera or your cat.
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Step 1: Gather Your Materials
For this project you will need:
- The supplied Olympus Video Output cable with 12 pin connector
- A USB cable or similar cable that contains at least three conductors
- A 35mm film canister, pill bottle or similar container to house your cable release
- A Radio Shack Single Pole Single Throw (SPST) Push-On/Push-Off Switch (275-011A) or similar switch
- Flat head screwdriver
- Utility Knife
- Electrical tape
- Small Zip Tie
- Multi Meter (optional)
- Other implements of destruction
- A soldering iron with a thin pencil type tip
- Gorilla Glue (or similar polyurethane glue)
Step 2: Preparing the Olympus Cable
- Use a heat gun, torch, or gas stove burner to heat the protective boot so it can be removed from the connector. It has been reported that dipping the boot in boiling water is also very effective for softening it.
- Use care to not burn or melt the boot. It is only necessary to soften the plastic boot so it can be removed.
- Once the boot is hot, hold it with a pair of pliers and gently work a screwdriver or similar tool between the connector and the boot.
- After it has been separated from the connector use a utility knife to cut along the seam of the boot.
- Carefully open the boot and remove it from the cable and connector. Set it aside for later use.
Step 3: Remove Insulation
- Use a utility knife to carefully pry away the insulator.
- The wire connections are NOT useful and it is OK if they become damaged during this step.
- It is most important that the connector is not damaged, the wires are unimportant to the rest of this procedure.
- If the insulator will not come free from the connector, apply heat and it will melt easily. Using a heat gun it is possible to melt most of the insulator away so that it is possible to desolder the wires.
Step 4: Desolder Existing Connections
- Use the soldering iron to desolder the existing wire connections
- Use care to not over heat the connector and melt the plastic.
- There are three connections that need to be removed. These connections are for outputting a video signal and are not useful for controlling the shutter release.
Step 5: Prepare the Cable Wires
- Strip the outer insulation from the salvaged cable
- Gather the uninsulated wire together to form one bundle - this is the ground
- Strip about 3mm of the insulation from two of the wires - about 1cm total of wire should be exposed from the outer insulation.
- Trim any of the unused wires
Step 6: Solder the Wires
- Locate your patience and make sure it is in good working order
- Choose two wires to use
- Solder one wire to pad 11 and the other to pad 3
- Solder the ground to the outside housing
- Use care and a fine pointed soldering tip to ensure that each wire is soldered to only one contact.
Pads 7-12 are located on the other side.
See the pictures below for help locating the proper pads. If in doubt use a multi meter to match each pin to its pad.
The following pin-outs may be useful
1 - USB DATA +
2 - USB DATA -
3 - Shutter Release (when combined with 11)
4 - Audio - Center (?)
5 - Video Center
7 - Video Shield
9 - Audio Shield
10 - USB -ve
11 - Auto Focus, Meter (half press of shutter release button)
12 - USB +5ve
Shell - Ground, USB ground
Thanks to Richard from the dpreview.com olympus forum.
Step 7: Test the Connections
- Use a multi meter and a small probe to test the connections.
- Probe each contact inside the connector and make sure that it connects to only one wire. If you get readings from more than one contact, double check your solder job and make sure that there are no bridges between pads.
- After you are satisfied that each wire is properly connected to pads 3, 11 and the shell, plug the cable into the camera.
- Touch wire 3 to the ground. The camera should attempt to auto focus and meter.
- Touch Wire 3 and 11 to ground and the camera should release the shutter and take an exposure. Note Wire 3 will not fire the shutter alone. It must be combined with wire 11.
Step 8: Stabilize the Connection
- Use a great deal of care using Gorilla glue. It stains skin, bonds most surfaces, ruins clothing and is just about impossible to remove. You have been warned.
- Put a small dab of Gorilla glue on the wires of the connector. The glue will take the place of the insulator that was removed earlier on. Make sure it is suspended away from any surfaces; the glue foams and expands as it sets. It will bond to any surface it comes in contact with.
- After the first blob of glue is set (about 1 hour) remove any excess glue using a utility knife.
- Put a small dab of glue inside the protective boot and place it around the connector.
- Wrap the boot in electrical tape to help create a solid bond.
Step 9: Prepare the Enclosure
- Measure the diameter of the switch and drill a matching hole in the bottom of the pill bottle.
- Drill a small hole that is large enough to accommodate the wire in the lid of the bottle.
- Thread the wire through the lid pulling 5-7 cm of wire through the lid.
- Unscrew the nut and washer from the switch and thread those onto the cable.
- Finally thread the cable through the large hole in the end of the bottle.
- Make sure the parts follow this order connector -> lid -> nut -> washer -> bottle -> bare wire ends
If you forget to thread the washer and nut on before soldering the switch, the bottom of the switch can be unscrewed. The switch contacts can be threaded back through the bottle and then the washer and nut can be added. Be careful when unscrewing the switch base. There are several small parts that can fall out, including a spring.
Step 10: Solder the Switch
- If you have not trimmed the extra wires yet, do so now.
- Strip about 3 cm of outside insulation from the end of the cable.
- Strip about 8-9mm of insulation from the two remaining wires.
- Tin the two wires with solder and then solder to one contact of the switch
- Tin the ground wire and solder it to the remaining contact.
- Test your switch with a multi meter - Pin 3 and 11 should connect with the shell of the connector when the switch is depressed.
- Test your switch with your camera by carefully plugging it into the body and depressing the switch. The camera should automatically focus and shoot a picture. Make sure you release the switch into the off position or the camera will not display the picture you just shot.
- Add some electrical tape to secure the wires.
Step 11: Finish the Cable
- Carefully place the switch into the pill bottle
- Use hemostats or needle nose pliers to securely screw the nut onto the switch
- If you forgot to put the nut and washer INSIDE the bottle, unscrew the base of the switch, pull it out of the bottle, place the nut then the washer onto the cable and then thread the switch base back through the bottle.
- Place a small zip tie near the inside of the lid on the cable to prevent it damage to the switch.
Step 12: Tips for Using the Cable Release
Try to make sure your switch is in the OFF position before disconnecting it. If it is ON when plugged in, the camera will begin shooting immediately.
Because the remote only simulates a FULL button press, not a half press-full press it is best if you compose your shot, focus manually or focus by using the shutter release on the camera. Then use the remote to actually take the shot.
In low light, the auto focus tends to "hunt," driving the lens between the focus extremes. This makes using the remote challenging. Set the camera to full manual focus to help eliminate this problem.
Make sure you click the switch to OFF after taking a picture. Leaving it in the ON position is like keeping the shutter release button on the camera depressed. This won't hurt anything, but you can't move on to the next shot until the button is released, or the cable is unplugged.
If the camera is set to bracket or for multiple exposures, it will continue to shoot as long as the switch is in the ON position. If this is undesirable, make sure you set the camera to single shot mode when using this remote.
To access the BULB setting (for exposures longer than 60") switch the camera to the M mode. Decrease the shutter speed past 60", the next setting is BULB. The shutter will remain open as long as the shutter release or remote cable button is depressed.
The switch used in this application is of a fairly low spec. This means that even when you slightly depress the button, contact will be made and the shutter will fire. Use this to your advantage when making multiple exposures by lightly pressing the switch for a single shot and then releasing so you are ready for the next shot.
Eventually I will post instructions for a remote cable release that has auto focus, single shot and bulb features on the remote. ----> Version 2 with auto focus and bulb shooting from the remote!
Feel free to contact me using aaron.ciuffo at g mail dot c om. Use your brain and turn that into a real email address.