some diy projects for my camera

When I was in San Diego a couple weeks back I made a few things for my camera since I had access to all my tools. I've been wanted to make an off-camera flash cable for a while. Browsing the internet I also got the idea to make an L-bracket tripod mount. After making those I decided to make a cable shutter release as well.

I've got quite a few boxes of old photo stuff laying around my house. I found two 10 foot PC cables, that plug into my camera's external flash trigger, a PC attachment for Metz flashes, and the bracket arm in the picture below.

I was initially going to use the hotshoe off the bracket and modify it for my off camera flash, but then I found some hotshoe to PC adapters. I just had to convert them to a PC to hotshoe adapter.

The flash is triggered by shorting the center pin on the hotshoe connector with on on the side so I had to drill a hole through the dummy hotshoe and somehow isolate the wire going to the center pin. I found some rubber hose and a rubber screw. I used JB Weld to hold it all together, which is one of the strongest epoxies out there. Just has a really long cure time of about a day.

I also found a nut that was the same thread as a tripod mount so I JB Welded that to the casing.

I cut off the Metz connector from the cable I found and soldered the hot wire to the bolt and the ground to the base of the hotshoe. Since these weren't the best surfaces to solder to and my good soldering iron is up in the bay I decided to use some JB Weld for this as well. It didn't help that I was using some old solder that didn't hold very well either. The connections on the off cable flash have held up, but I have to warn that the JB Weld must have expanded when it dried because I had some problems with my solder joints with my remote shutter release and had to cut off some of the JB and resolder the connections, which included replacing a switch.

Here is the final product. After a bit of use one screw mount broke and the other stripped so I just JB Welded the whole thing together. It should last a while now although if my connections come loose I won't be able to take the thing apart. I used some JB on the cable, too, so that should prevent the connections from giving with a yank of the cable.

Next was making the L-bracket. The bracket arm I found earlier was easy to modify for this. The plan was to remove the handle and drill and tap a hole in the base to mount to the tripod. The thread size is 1/4"-20.

The nice thing about this is that I can always attach the handle again and it'll be as if I never modified anything. Here is the camera mounted on the L-bracket.

And the setup in action.

The next thing I wanted to built was a remote shutter release. I searched around online and found a few ideas. This one does a good job of explaining what I want to do. The only problem is that Canon Rebels use a 3/16" headphone jack which is easy to come by, while my 20D used an proprietary N3 connector. Fortunately I found this site which says that the N3 plug has the same spacing as a VGA adapter for a monitor and pins that are the same size as in a PS2 mouse or keyboard connector. The electronic store where I normally get this kinda stuff was closed (for good) so I went to a random computer store in Kearny Mesa asking for any similar stores. I told the guy what I needed and he gave me two, presumably fried, motherboards. I removed the VGA connector, which was a huge pain, and then got to sawing and filing it down to three pins. This was quite a bit of work, especially getting the pins to make good contact with the camera. The pinouts are on the website I mentioned before. In the end I built the connector and decided to add a 1/8" headphone jack plug. That way I can just use a regular 1/8" jack cable if I need to make it longer and so I can use the connector for future projects (like the intervalometer I'm making for time lapse photography). I ripped the female 1/8" connector off the motherboard I had.

I decided to make the switch housing out of a film canister. I looked for a two stage push button switch (half push for focus, full push for shutter) but couldn't find one so decided to use two switches. I also added a toggle wired to the shutter for bulb exposers. I had issues once I put everything together most likely because the JB Weld expanded and broke some of my solder joints. My advice is to just use a good soldering iron in the first place. I had to replace the toggle switch but eventually I got everything working.

My current project is building a shutter timer (intervalometer) for time lapse photography. It's almost done but the timing on the circuit is off so I have to work that out. Once I work it out I'll post how I made that one, too.

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