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  1. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    EDIT: The Photo Trigger is now available for sale. For more information please visit the web site at www.PhotoTriggers.com


    This post was made in early April 2011, since then several changes to the specifications have been made. Please see later in the thread for the current position.


    After about 6 months of pestering by John CGeezer he has worn me down and I have started work on out combined idea of a universal triggering device for cameras.

    The electronics are currently at the prototype stage with the inputs causing LEDs to flash rather than cameras but within about a week we should be at the full flash and camera activating prototype stage.

    I know that most of what we are doing has been done before but the problem is that most of it requires people to import the stuff themselves or build stuff themselves which is not always possible.

    Anyway they will be available within a couple of months fully assembled and working (I'm VAT registered too) but the general idea is as follows:

    Control box

    which will be powered by maybe 2 x 9V batteries or maybe mains/12V socket

    These are the controls/indicators on the box

    Manual focus

    Manual trigger

    LEDs showing

    • Power
    • Trigger input
    • Trigger being delayed
    • Trigger output
    • Low battery

    Switch for delay ranges
    • OFF
    • 0-1 seconds
    • 1-10 seconds
    • 10-60 seconds
    • 1-5 minutes

    Adjuster for delay

    Connections [modified 13/4/11]

    • PC sync for flash (500V max)
    • Universal camera connection
    • Internal RF603 connection for RF603 transmitter
    • Manual focus/trigger switch (included)
    • Power
    • Trigger interface connection


    Possibly.....

    Switch for number of shots (1-10)


    Trigger interfaces

    So far envisioned with more if people have any ideas:

    Short beam breaker

    • Water drops
    • Items dropped into water
    • Small items floating in mid air eg coin etc
    with adjustable light power, adjustable sensor gain

    Sound detector

    • Smashing glass
    • Hammer blast
    • Gun going off etc

    with adjustable gain (I can add a pre-amp to make it more sensitive)

    Alarm system interface

    • Connects to PIR for movement (birds at feeder, cats, wildlife etc)
    • Connects to reed switches for doors, windows, cat flaps etc
    • Connects to pressure sensor
    • Connects to central heating system controller for timed photos!

    Complete with all the normal alarm system connections

    Light interface

    • Detect lightning etc

    with adjustable sensitivity


    These are the outputs I have envisioned: [edited 13/4/11]

    • Universal camera socket (Nikon/Canon/Olympus/Sony etc leads)
    • 500V Flash output (works with old flashes too!)
    • RF603 input & output (requires optional RF603s which will be connected inside or outside!)


    So here we go......


    • What do you think?
    • Is there anything we have missed?
    • Would you like anything added?
    • Is there much call for a £10-15 RF602 500v adapter to work separately from the above?
    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  2. DrRusty

    DrRusty

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    The only things I've seen that would do all this (or even some of this) cost a bomb or are a little "Heath Robinson". If you could make something that works for a reasonable price I would be very interested. :)
  3. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    The plan is to have one control box then you have separate box for the trigger module. You then use whichever module is relevant for the task. The RF602 bits will be inside the box
  4. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    Well it fired the camera today so it is working!
  5. B1ts

    B1ts

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    All sounds excellent, slight reservations on 602 rather than newer 603 as 603 not compatible with 602 and as time goes on supplies may dry up of the 602?
    Also the reliability aspect of any chinese trigger if sealed inside?
    Any way of adding a shoe ext to the box for people to add their own wireless trigger?
    Or pinouts so we could add ext shoes ourselves?
  6. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    The radio triggers could be changed easily just by undoing the four screws and removing the lid. Inside the box there will be a pc sync cable going to the sender and the three pin connector going to the receiver. I hadn't yet decided on power but would probably have soldered wires to the battery springs.

    I didn't know that there was a 603. Will have a look.

    You could attach any trigger to the external pc sync plug too.
  7. Snapsh0t

    Snapsh0t

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    Sounds very good. Please keep going. Not interested in the 602/603 stuff personally but the rest is fine. Any ideas on rough cost yet?

    Jonathan
  8. Ziploc

    Ziploc

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    Intresting project. will keep a eye on this thread
  9. The23rdman

    The23rdman

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    Very interested in this one. Great work!
  10. Nod

    Nod Ethel Prescott

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    Would be interested in a box to fire a D700 (Nikon 10 pin plug) and an old flash - either PC or non dedicated hotshoe contacts. Ideally, trigger should be tripped by sound or light (beam interrupt?)

    Good, found my original post and it does express my interest in an example of the finished item so I don't need to post again! Then again, Darren may not see this edit so I'll possibly need to contact him once the things go on general release.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  11. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    It's already doing that now :)

    I had it hooked up to the D200 and by breaking the beam one LED lights then after an adjustable delay a yellow LED lights. Hooking the outputs to 3 opto couples will allow me to trigger the camera via the 10 pin lead which I did yesterday! Just had a delivery of components today so might be able to add more functionality to it but everything on the list should be doable in the next couple of weeks.

    Not sure about price yet but will probably do two versions a deluxe and normal versions. Not sure how to deal with the modules yet either, whether to sell it with all or none of them and allow people to add the modules they want.
  12. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    Well it now works!

    The white plastic box with strange devices tie wrapped to the lid is basically the light source and light detector. These two devices when combined together in a "U" shaped holder will become the droplet detector. These lead to a small board which is the trigger interface mentioned as "Short beam breaker". At the moment it will detect anything moved between the devices such as a finger even if quickly. Each of these small boards will be designed to give the same trigger signal so other detector boards can be added later.

    The breadboard contains the time delay and adjustable trigger time circuits.

    The output of that circuit leads to the board at the bottom which is the power output and trigger board. This board already triggers the camera but will eventually trigger FULL power flashes and radio triggers.

    When the universal trigger goes into production the delay board and power output board will be combined in a plastic box together with the power supply/batteries and most of the controls plus a focus and shutter button.

    The individual trigger circuits will be boxed in a small box which will connect to the main box by a 5 pin DIN lead (a midi lead).

    The camera is protected from the circuitry using optical couplers so there is no actual electrical connection. If I can get hold of the same sockets are the RF602 or RF603 use then I can make it use the same leads as them which makes connecting it to any camera really easy as there are already leads for Nikon, Olympus, Sony and Canon.

    If anyone has any ideas at all let me know and I might well include them.

    EDIT: The above spec has changed see later in the thread.....
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011
  13. incapete

    incapete

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    Awesome project!
  14. trevorbray

    trevorbray

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    Blimey Darren. You are officially Genius. The implications for the security industry should mean you'll do very well. Protect your ideas.
  15. davol

    davol Junior Member

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    I like the idea if the costs can be kept down, but as the flexibilty increases
    so does the cost.

    If you are planning to capture moving objects then your trigger delay times
    must be more accurate (in the order of mSec) than the ranges given by your simple switch steps.

    You might pick up some useful information from "camera axe" they sell a unit in kit form plus various sensors. Their system is open source technology so the details are free to all, they also have a forum dedicated to the Camera Axe.

    Best of luck with the project.
    Davol
  16. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    No the steps are just steps, when you have the knob turned to 1-10 seconds then the variable control goes from 1 to 10 seconds etc. I could make it digital with a display but that would increase the cost.

    The flexibility would be born out by the main unit with you then plug your sensor modules into. The trigger time could be adjustable up to as long as we want really.

    It is still at the prototype stage at the moment (but working :)) so changes like this can be done.

    I have seen devices for one thing or another on the internet and various places but they mainly require the buyer to build it themselves or import it from abroad.

    When it goes into production it will be assembled by a local electronics company (after the initial 10 probably) and I am VAT registered too.

    I would guess full production in a couple of months with the first 10 hand made units in maybe a month.
  17. incapete

    incapete

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    Do you need any beta testers? I used to beta test software so I know the steps to follow (basically, be methodical, try all combinations and above all record what you do!) and am now a technology buyer for a big retailer.
  18. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    I'll let you know :)

    John, CGeezer is the chief tester with all the time he has. He loves all that high speed photography stuff too. Unfortunately he is rather unwell at the moment.

    I think I will get the output board finished over the weekend whilst trying to save a big enough corner of the stripboard to recreate the timer board keeping the main circuit all on one board. I have the circuit pretty much laid out on the circuit design program and once it is working I should be able to go straight to a designed PCB very quickly. Once tested and any problems ironed out I can look into how much it would cost to get 100 PCBs made professionally. John has volunteered to solder them but his soldering ability needs to be brought up to the right level first (I gave him a project kit to build and he broke it :LOL:).

    Anyway then it is on to the short beam breaker sensor. It works but I need to make a plastic horse shoe type thing to hold the relevant parts in the right place first.
  19. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    I am looking at using a programmable micro processor chip which would allow me to have very accurate delays for the time between the input (beam break/sound etc) and the camera shutter opening PLUS an accurate delay till the shutter closes both measured in milliseconds and up to as long as I want!

    This would also allow me to dispense with switches to have ranges of values and I could also have an LCD display to show the delays and what is happening etc etc.

    The box could also act as a time lapse box taking images after a programmed delay and for a programmed amount of time.

    Would a remote control to adjust the delays, trigger the camera etc be of use to people? Would be maybe an additional £10 ??

    The cost to the user would be maybe £25 extra but it would be a much better product I think...... Will build a prototype and have a play with that too.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  20. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    Question........

    Would people be interested IF you could buy a box complete and fully assembled for £119 that:

    Includes PSU
    Has digital LCD display for delay and trigger time.
    Acts as a remote with focus and trigger buttons.
    Has lead to connect to YOUR camera.
    Works as a time lapse box
    Includes small beam breaker module
    Includes alarm connection (to main box)
    Includes sound module
    Has battery connection internally
    Has RF603 output connection
    Will fire 2 x 500V external flash units
    Possibly includes IR remote control (to adjust timings, focus and trigger)

    What you people think?

    Would you prefer something at maybe £80 that has a switch to select the ranges and a knob that you turn for speed but with NO visible display to show the speed?
  21. Wail

    Wail

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    Hi Darren,

    You never cease to amaze me (y). Wonderful tool, and something I am very interested in, as it opens up a new form of photography for me :)


    If you're going ahead with this, put me down for two. I would love to see it being able to fire a number of Speedlights (I think that's about the same :shrug:).

    On the same subject, but from a different angle, I will PM you about another order I'd like to put in too.
  22. B1ts

    B1ts

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    Absolutely, sounds about right pricewise for featureset to me :)


    Think you maybe just found your 'deluxe' vs 'standard' criteria?
    (maybe using the remote as deal breaker between too?)
  23. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    Thanks everyone. Wail, I was going to tell you all about it :)

    Just to show it working I will show you a picture taken today. Because you set the delay half your pictures get the water drop so it really does help. I have been testing it using my D200 but had not set up ANY additional lighting and it was on my dark desk! So I had to up the ISO on the D200 to "H1.0" which is ISO 3200 !!! The D200 does not like anything over 640 really so it is ridiculously grainy BUT you can get the idea.....

    [​IMG]

    Seriously everyone this is not what you will get when you actually use some light and it was not even a particularly good drop :) (in fact it's not even in focus :LOL:)
  24. mike_6480

    mike_6480

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    I would definitely be interested
  25. malla1962

    malla1962

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    looks good to me
  26. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    What about an optional web browser interface :)
  27. SteveRob

    SteveRob

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    Stephen
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    Interesting project at a nice (proposed) price. It ticks many boxes for me.
  28. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    Yes, the price is subject to change because although I have the setup working now it is only the simpler version (which I may offer as a cheaper alternative). If I do offer a cheaper version I will need to use the same circuit board or the price for both will go up too much. I can include both versions of the timer section of the circuit and just populate it to suit the version I am making.

    The intelligent version with an LCD display etc will need components which will cost me about £40 over and above the simpler version. That is without the extra work involved. I will do my best to keep the price around that area. That price is also hopefully going to include ALL of the modules I mentioned at the top plus a module expansion socket.

    EDITED: This is probably no longer true and I am looking at them all being software upgradeable = The intelligent device is also likely to be user upgradeable with new software later but that then adds the cost of these extra components to everyone (maybe £10) otherwise I would offer a RTB upgrade at about £14 inc postage. The point is though that once it is set up and working it will not NEED upgrading it is just things like adding support for a new un-thought of option etc.

    I am just waiting for about 3 weeks now till I have the money to buy the programming kit etc for the intelligent version and I am running experiments on different versions of the short beam breaker.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  29. Wail

    Wail

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    Excellent work Darren, as always.

    I am very interested in the intelligent device, for the quantity that I've mentioned in my PM.
  30. Euan

    Euan

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    this really is a fantastic idea thats growing at quite a rate i think! cant wait till you have them ready for shipping, i'll be up for one!
  31. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    The cost of the item obviously is dependant on the cost of parts. I can buy a remote control and the extra components to read it for under £10 which is universal but has 0-9, mode, on/off etc buttons on it.

    Adding buttons to the box for up/down between the variables, left right across their values plus + and - makes building it much more time consuming but also it will take longer to change the values. Adding about 15 buttons so you get 0-9 will increase the cost of the box and getting so many buttons lined up correctly will be difficult so it will look homemade (unless I have them made which increases the cost)

    QUESTION: Would people be happier with a nice clean box with fewer buttons and a remote control to do all the settings etc or would they prefer to pay more?

    I think using the remote will be the best option myself.
  32. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    I have two options for the LCD screen, 2 lines of 16 characters OR a full graphical screen 128x64 pixels which will allow all the variables to be seen at the same time ie

    Camera trigger delay
    Camera trigger duration
    Flash trigger delay
    Flash trigger duration
    Number of repeats
    Repeat delay

    QUESTION: Would people feel that paying £15 more for the larger display was worth it or better to keep the cost down to the original estimate?

    Offering both options is a possibility BUT it means 2 sets of code and a possible overall delay........

    I like the larger display but it would push the price up a little.

    EDIT: I have just seen a demo of the fully graphical larger display and it is awesome and fully backlit. It is likely to be £135 ish rather than the £119 ish though :(
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2011
  33. Euan

    Euan

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    I think in the world of photography £135 is still a bargain for this!
  34. Wail

    Wail

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    I have to agree wholeheartedly; however, it would be very presumptuous of anyone to rule out the lesser option.

    May be, Darren, work out the two / three options you'd like to go ahead with, no rush on that, and then put up a poll then an order in-take thread.

    This way, may be you can get a more accurate feedback on quantity for each specification.

    Either way, I am happier to go with the bigger screen and the full-spec'ed version.

    As for the quantity I'd like to order, I will PM you on that :), as I see things moving rather nicely (y)
  35. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    Thanks Wail,

    Yes I have been having a really good look at both options!

    The cheaper option gives me a 16x2 screen with text only but the more expensive option gives me pixel based graphics with about 24x8 text or larger 18 x 6. It certainly gives more options. The larger screen requires the more powerful processor but there isn't much cost difference on that. It also gives me about 16 extra inputs to use too!

    With the addition of one single IED costing a few pence it can transmit IR signals too. This means that I might well be able to import the IR signal from a camera remote and the box can then control the camera directly!

    Right, I'm messing with the rest of the kit now until the end of the month when I can place the order I need for some parts to build the full prototype :banghead:

    I will keep you all informed.
  36. davekiddle

    davekiddle Like to feel muppets

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    This looks great. I'll be up for one @ £135
  37. Byker28i

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  38. Alastair

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    Very interested in this.. tagging along to follow the development..
  39. cowasaki

    cowasaki Staff Member

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    I'm using the Atmel 1280
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  40. SussexBlue

    SussexBlue

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    Sounds really good Darren, put me down for one :D

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