Necessity breeds innovation right? This instructable started from a simple comment on a photography forum hosted by Eric Pare. If you haven't seen his work I highly recommend heading over to his site at ericpare.com.
In the world of camera gadgets--about 1 out of every 5 are actually useful...the rest are just more junk that you will never use but feel obligated to keep in your bag taking up space. This creation has a limited audience and I knew that going into it, but for those that can use it will see the amazing results it can offer.
For light painters and long exposure photographers, there are 2 things that are a necessity. A good tripod and a dependable remote trigger. To push the envelope of what is possible with light painting, the use of both hands and full control of your shutter are imperative. This device allows you to use both hands to paint with light and remotely trigger your camera using bulb mode or just a standard defined time.
This build is for somebody that already has some basic knowledge of electronic repair. Small solder points, desoldering and delicate solder pads are involved. If you have a real need for this product, I will be accepting orders for completed, pre-built units in the future.
Step 1: What You Need
-Soldering pencil that has a fairly fine point
-Solid core 2 conductor wire. You can use LED wire. I used phone line because it was readily available at the house and who has a home phone anymore?
-Heat shrink--Note, some have expressed concerns that heat shrink is toxic. I can assure you it is not unless you expose it to extreme heat (in excess of 500F). However, I did use food safe tubing from adafruit. The only difference I noticed was how it was packaged since I assume it was produced in a sterile environment. It seems to be a bit less porous than "normal" heat shrink and it doesn't cost much more than any other tubing I've bought
-Heat gun (not absolutely necessary but better than the lighter method)
-Cheap plastic BIC ball point pen
-Tweeker screwdriver set
-Hot glue gun and sticks
-Yongnuo RF-603C wireless trigger pair with cable for your model camera
-3/32 mono audio plug male (radio shack PN 2740289)
-3/32 mono panel mount jack female (or stereo doesnt really matter...just need to solder the correct contacts) (radio shack PN 2740245)
-5mm tact switch (radio shack PN 2750002)
Step 2: Disassembly and Strip the PCB
-Remove the 3 screws. 2 top, 1 bottom.
-Carefully open the case, lift from the bottom near the battery holder.
-Use a pair of side cutters and cut all the wires to separate the 2 halves. You may also desolder the leads if you desire for a cleaner build. At this point you're realizing that this has just removed all the hot shoe connections...which is true because we don't need them and need to make some free space inside the case..
-Also cut the wires for the flash sync micro coax connector and discard the connector.
-Remove the 4 screws that are on the hot shoe PCB attached to the battery holder half of the case.
-There will be a lot of springs and pins that fall out after you remove the hot shoe PCB--Thats fine, throw them away along with the 4 screws
-Remove the 2 screws that hold the screw down base for the hot shoe and discard the screws and the plastic barrel.
-Remove the 5 screws that are holding the main PCB onto the upper case and save for reassembly
-Desolder the 4 pins that are holding the PCB onto the upper half of the case that make up the contacts for the upper hot shoe. This can be a bit tricky. The best way is to heat the solder with the soldering pencil tip and push the pins out with the tip far enough so you can continue to remove the pins with a set of tweezers.
-Remove the tact switch. !!CAUTION!! The solder pads that the tact switch are soldered to are small and if your soldering pencil is too hot you WILL lift the pad off the PCB. Lifting one pad isn't the end of the world but if you lift 2, you may have just ruined the board. The best method to remove the tact switch is by using some desoldering braid or very carefully heating the solder and bending the switch plate up.
Step 3: Install New Parts
-There are a few different revisions of the triggers floating around out there. Some of the original tact switches are installed horizontally, others are parallel. The best way to figure out what points you need to solder to would be to use a multimeter while the original switch is still soldered to the PCB. Or you can use the dummy method by loosely reassembling the battery half back onto the PCB, installing batteries, connect the receiver to your camera, turning on the transmitter and jumper out the solder points of the transmitter PCB from the push button until you can trigger the camera.
-This specific model that I am demoing the build on was the Yongnuo RF-603C II for Canon cameras. It was a 2016 revision made in January. Others that I have built on are the ones for Nikon and for Sony. Each PCB is just slightly different.
-Solder leads onto the contact points of the now removed tact switch. Use the 2 points that would complete the circuit when the button is pushed.
-If by chance you lifted a solder pad upon removal, you can chose another pad and solder your other wire to a ground point on the PCB. (all the gold pads on the PCB are ground points)
-Using single leads from a phone line, they are small enough to route through the holes that were under the original tact switch.
-If you used a stereo jack, cut the front solder point off since it wont be used.
-Take your 3/32 panel mount audio plug and superglue it centered at the top of the PCB. The edge of the jack should be flush with the edge of the PCB. If it extends too far out, you will have to trim plastic off the case to put it back to together. If you set it too far in, the male plug will not go in far enough and will hit the case.
-Solder the leads from the tact switch pads to the audio jack.
-Use a small amount of hot glue on the sides of the audio jack to ensure it wont lift off the PCB in the future. DO NOT hot glue the back side of the jack where you just soldered the leads to as this will cover the contact points between the jack and the plug or glue them so they cant spring out.
Step 4: Make the Mouth Cable
-Reassemble the case using the 5 screws that held the PCB in place. When reinstalling the batter half of the case, be careful not to pinch a wire somewhere.
-Using your new 5mm tact switch and about 4' of wire, solder leads to the tact switch so that it is a momentary push button. Easiest way to tell where to solder is by using a multimeter and checking resistance when the button is pushed. Resistance will be 0 ohm when pushed completing the circuit.
-This is where the BIC pen comes into play.
-Remove the ink cartridge from the pen and the tip and discard.
-Cut approximately 1" of the pen casing. Split the pen casing down the center aprox. 1'4 inch down and remove a portion of the tube. This will serve as protection for the tact switch and make it easier to hold in between your teeth.
-Feed the wire through the pen casing until the tact switch sits nicely inside the recess you just cut out.
-(not pictured) solder the other end of your leads to the 3/32 mono male jack. Dont forget to put the plastic screw on shroud over the wire first! (rookie mistake).
-Now would be a good time to plug in the cable and test the button before you glue and heat shrink everything into place.
-Use hot glue to hold everything in place--Hot glue under the switch and inside the pen tube to ensure the wires cant possibly pull out and break the connection.
-Heat shrink the switch and pen casing to create a weather and moisture proof seal. use your tweezers to seal the end of the heat shrink and. Once the heat shrink cools, trim off the corners to make it rounded
Step 5: Finished!
All that is left is to USE IT!
Route the wire down the front of your shirt or behind your ear and down your back, plug it in to the transmitter and keep it in your pocket. If it makes it easier for you (it does for me) heat up the heat shrink a bit and bend it at a 90 facing down. This will keep the wire from sticking out so far.
While this looks like a lot of work, the hardest part has already been done by me (figuring if and how to it can be done). Like I said, I will be offering these as a completed set soon and will ship at a cost of around $75.
Check out some of my work and follow me on instagram @awp.photography or send me a message through my website at www.awpphotography.net. Like and follow my page on Facebook. Again HUGE shout out to Eric Pare and the light painting community for inspiring this build.