ben plattes 7:22pm, 25 January 2010
Hello all, it's been a long time since I've posted a how-to mod on here, so we'll see how this one goes!

I wanted to fire my camera(s) remotely using a pocket wizard, but brand name pre-trigger cables are uber expensive. Thanks to a.rider.for life ( www.flickr.com/photos/pmach/ ) I saw an article on SportsShooter with instructions on building an inexpensive version, so I made one that was even cheaper (sportshooter's mod, www.sportsshooter.com/rritari/nikon_pw_cable/pages/1.html, uses a nikon-brand data cable for the jack). My basic idea was, why not use one of those cheap ebay cable releases?

Materials:
1x cheap ebay cable release (I got one with a 3m cable for more flexibility) $6 I'm building one for my D70 and one for the D300. This post shows the D300 remote being modded.

1x switch, the smaller the better. I used a smaller DPDT switch, but you only use one set of poles, so any switch with an "on" and an "off" would work too (see below). smaller is (much) better. $1

1x 1/8" mono audio jack, packs of 3 are under 3 bucks at Radioshack $1

Misc hot glue, wire, solder, and perhaps one additional screw. If you have this stuff lying around, it's basically free. I'll estimate it at 88 cents for the sake of the cool title, that's probably a bit high.

At the end of this, you will have a working cable release (with shutter lock function) and ALSO a working pre-trigger switch and mono audio jack in the same case!

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Here is the cable release, just waiting to be messily gutted beautifully modified!

Step one
First incision...
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Open up the release. The wires are the following:
Top is common (ground)
Middle is meter-awake (what the switch will turn on)
Bottom is shutter release (what the PW will trigger through the audio jack)
I reccommend hot gluing the strain relief to the bottom shell, otherwise you will break the cheap wires off the solder joints as you move it around.

Step two and three
Install jack and switch
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Get creative with the placements.

I put the jack on the cover, right over the logo (I wished I had put it on the left side, not the right as pictured, so it wouldn't have been so close to the cord as it enters the case, but it worked totally fine. It's close to the screw mount, but clipping some of the fiberglass insulation on the jack with a large nail clippers gives plenty of clearance.

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The switch is a bit trickier. I decided to put it where one of the case screws was installed, sticking out the back of the case. There is a vacant hole inside the plastic extrusion for the top contact (visible above) that I will use for a new case screw (on the front) since the one on the back had to be cut out for the switch. Trim down absolutely any unneccessary contact clearance on the switch, unless you were smart (unlike me) and used one that was quite large.

The wiring is simple to figure out, trickier to solder (you have to wire 2 wires to each pad. Be careful, the exiting wiring is cheap and will break with abuse. Using one half of the switch (only need one pole) solder the common top (ground) to one pole (I went to the closest one). Wire the awake wire to the middle pole, and the trigger wire to the remaining pole (you don't have to do that, you could run it straight to the jack.) Then, solder additional wires from the end poles (ground and shutter trigger) from the switch to the audio plug jack (carefully measure clearance, you don't want extra wire in there). Cut away some plastic for clearance, and I would reccomend hot glue or something to make sure wires don't interfere with the spring contacts.


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The final product. (the bluish plug on the bottom is a thumbtack plug, after I was an idiot and tried to put the audio jack where it wouldn't fit. Dont do it like that, please.

Step four
Reassemble, test, and gloat
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First test the cable release function separately, then try a PW!
The switch will only work one way, I'm going to label mine. Middle position is off. For some reason on mine, if I flip the switch to the other pole (the one that isn't "meter on") the PW still will trigger the camera, but only once. By flipping the switch to off and then back, I again get one shot, that's it. No idea why, but it was never supposed to work at all, so we'll call that a custom setting that might prove useful never ever ever sometime.

Here's me in my temporary studio space at school. Success! You just saved money in your wallet and space in your camera bag!

Enjoy!
Benjamin Plattes
a.rider.for.life 9 years ago
Nice write up Ben,

Just thought I'd throw in my $.02 with a few notes/shots of the mod that I did for the remote for my D70s, to help any one else out who wants to try and do something similar. It's easy and cheap and opens up a whole new range of possibilities for pictures you can get with remote camera set ups.

I didn't have the forethought of doing a little tutorial thing so I didn't take any pictures of the process and don't have access to a small enough screw driver currently to get shots of the inside (it is very similar to Ben's though). So I only have images of the final product.

Over all:
remote mod by a.rider.for.life


Plug jack:
(I used the smaller 2.5mm jack since I had one extra that I ordered from my mod project of my 285's. Seen Here That way I can use the same cords that I made to connect the PW to either a flash or the remote)
plug jack by a.rider.for.life


Switch:
(I pulled my switch out of an old broken adding machine)
switch by a.rider.for.life

(I originally intended to put the switch on the left side of the case, but due to some distractions from some unwanted help and not double checking what I was doing before firing up the dremel. Rather than trying to plug the hole I just rearranged the existing interior wiring to make room for the switch. Still works perfectly fine, just not how I had planned it.)

I also found that with mine if you plug the cord coming from the remote into the Camera/Flash port on the Pocket Wizard, it just sits there and continuously fires with no stop. It works just fine when plugged into the Flash only port though.
Steve Kallestad 9 years ago
This is a great solution!

Flash zebra does have cheaper versions than the one's sold by pocketwizard, but they are still in the neighborhood of $30.
ben plattes 9 years ago
Phil, that looks totally sweet. Nice job, and low profile to boot. Looks quite a bit more pro than mine. This is why it's nice to have a really small switch.

P.S. When are we going to shoot more bikes and skis?
ben plattes Posted 9 years ago. Edited by ben plattes (member) 9 years ago
ok phil, the one-upsmanship will continue...

on my D70 cord (also a 3m long, for 4 bucks) I used much smaller guage wire, and a push button on-off switch (scavenged from an old push-on battery stick-on light). same audio jack, but no redrilling or modification of case other than one small hole for the jack, and a tiny bit of precise ex-acto work. check it:

DSC_9464

DSC_9468

finished product:
DSC_9470

plus my used pre-owned ebay Dymo label maker I just got, equals sweet labels...

DSC_9475

for the longer cables, those sweet velcro ties work nice.

the end. take that, phil.
kdidddddy 9 years ago
okay so the switch is turn on and off the pre trigger function? which means if it is on, the camera is awake constantly? just need clarification

thanks
ben plattes 8 years ago
Sorry it's been so long, but just for the benefit of any other readers, the answer to the above question is yes. When the switch is "on" the camera is pre-triggered, in the same state that it would be if the shutter button were half-pressed. Hope that helps.
If the camera is always "pre-triggered" as you call it, then you have to use the continuous focus mode, correct? Otherwise your focus is going to be locked all of the time.

I got this instead of trying to build a wireless trigger
Wireless Release
$29 on ebay
knowing trampoline [deleted] 8 years ago
I got a Vivitar wireless triggers along with a set of the PT-04 wireless flash triggers off ebay myself, and love them. $30 each and the flash trigger cam with 3 receivers too. One day I will eventually go for the Pocket Wizards :/
ben plattes 8 years ago
I'm pretty sure you can use whatever focus mode you like, but continuous focus is going to burn batteries super fast, the batteries are already taking a big hit from the camera being awake constantly.
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