Help with Remote Shutter Release

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by brent8927, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I built a remote shutter release a number of years ago, but I need to rebuild it and wanted to see if anyone has more wisdom than I do. (And if there isn't, then hopefully this will be helpful for people looking to do the same at some point)

    I use a Hasselblad 501c, and originally the idea was to do a wedding photo shoot of my wife and I, (which fortunately turned out great, and obviously was very personable). A bulb release was out of the question as it was visible (and if memory serves me correct, not strong enough to trip the blad's shutter anyway). The small mechanical timer ones you find on ebay never seemed to be strong enough either, successfully tripping the shutter about 10-20% of the time.

    My first question is, what others do to trigger a Hasselblad (or other difficult to trip) remotely?

    I realize one option is to buy a ELM/D model and use Hasselblad's radio remote release (or IR remote release for the 555), but that requires buying a fairly bulky camera that. The 200 series all have a timer, but that's a lot of money to spend on an old electronic camera for just a timer. I know c lenses do have timers, but my understanding is they're not the greatest, and ideally, I want to avoid a timer altogether anyway.

    The purpose of the camera is to shoot portraits of my family (with me in it!). I realize a point and shoot or any old 35mm camera with a timer could be a substitute, but I really want to use this camera. I like the photos it creates, and I like creating photos with it.

    The box I made utilizes the following (I do apologize for how messy it looks--I'm an amateur with this stuff, so it's held together with hot glue, gaffer's tape, solder, and for some reason I used caulk to hold the wires down. Safe to say, I won't be bringing this thing on a plane anytime)
    - Solenoid (from McMaster-Carr)
    - Remote radio release (obtained on ebay)
    - Milwaukee M12 Battery (I had taken the black shroud off so it would fit in the box, but that battery recently died). I also purchased the cheapest M12 tool I could find (a flashlight) so I could use the adapter/plug rather than sticking wires into the battery.
    - On/off switch (McMaster)
    - Some kind of pipe conduit clamp I used to hold the cable release in place
    - I had rigged it to accommodate an antenna, but that wasn't necessary after testing

    I used a solenoid, rather than a servo, which seemed to be the preferred method, as a servo requires the corkscrew action to trip a shutter release, and thus wasn't that quick (from what others told me). I think re-setting the servo could also be an issue. The solenoid just moves back and forth (hitting the "on" button trigger the electromagnetic field, which causes the piston-like portion to jolt forward, hitting "off" causes it to release, which lets gravity "reset" the piston), so it seemed like a good option.

    The M12 battery was necessary because I needed a battery with a higher voltage/amperage and draw current. In my testing one of those large lantern batteries did the trick while no smaller ones did, but that was not portable (too big, too heavy). I figured a Lithium-ion tool battery would be both light and powerful enough, which it was.

    Basically, I clamp my standard cable release to the pipe conduit clamp (if anyone knows what this is actually called, please feel free to correct me) and set it to the default/"spring" setting (so it recoils and releases the shutter, rather than lock and hold down the auxiliary shutter). I turn the unit on, and then I hit "on" on the key-fob-sized remote release to take the photo, and the piston jolts forward to compress the cable release. This does it somewhat strongly, since as I mentioned, a Hasselblad is hard to trip. The cable release seems to absorb some impact by flexing a bit. The photo is taken very quickly--not quite instantaneously, but close. Then I just run over to the camera, advance the frame, and run back.

    Areas I'm hoping to improve:
    1) I'd like to try out some smaller/weaker solenoids, but I tried quite a few out and this may be the weakest one that works. Does anyone know if it's actually possible to trip the shutter "too strong" and damage the camera? It hasn't caused an issue with the roughly 50-60 shots I've taken.
    2) I'd be curious to know if others used a different system altogether (using a servo instead), and how that works (speed, etc.)
    3) I really think my clamping system to attach the cable release is subpar and it looks rather ugly--any ideas on a better system?

    You're welcome to ask me any questions you have about how I manufactured the unit, in case anyone would like to make something similar.
     

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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I was reading over a few websites and came across some posts that suggested that you can damage your shutter release (on the body) with depressing a mechanical shutter release too forcefully. Can anyone confirm this is the case? If so, then I can't recommend the device/technique I built. (And it would mean I might need to buy a 555/553/etc and use the electronic remote release...)
     
  3. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Some remote releases have an adjustable plunger. Intended to be gradually set untill the shutter is just tripped.
     
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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I was not aware of cable releases like that, though I guess I've only used about 2-3 different releases. Can you tell me which cable releases have an adjustable throw/plunger?
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I'm not sure there are plain cable releases that got an adjustable plunger, but mechanical and electro-mech. releases got such.
     
  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I remember seeing some adjustable tips on CR's Possibly double releases?
    Could you reduce the impact of the solenoid with a spring between the solenoid and release? I've bee thinking about making something
    similar to this using a servo but being electronically challenged haven't figured how to reverse the servo at the end of it's travel. A reversing switch
    would be OK but how much force would it take to move the switch?

    Could you post a diagram to your creation?
     
  7. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I can't help, unfortunately, but,"d be interested in the final product myself.Let me know once you have a working prototype.
     
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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    A spring might help, but it could also decrease the response time. I'm not super handy, so welding it into place could be the tougher part.

    Unfortunately I don't know much about using servos, though I thought I recall reading posts about servos that will reverse (I would think they all have to, so I think you just need a three-way switch, right?)

    I don't have a diagram on hand, but it's a pretty simple setup. Battery wired to the radio receiver, then to the servo, all in parallel. Somewhere between the servo and receiver is the on/off switch. The photos would be clearer if I hadn't used the caulk to hold the wires down/create a form-fitted bed for the battery to rest in.

    If you look at the first photo, the cylindrical object on the right is the solenoid. The electronics device thing at the top of the box is the radio transmitter receiver, and the white space is the caulking where the battery typically sits (when the black shroud is removed from the battery, it fits). Looking at the second photo, the on/off switch is the circular black object on the left, and on the right is the conduit clamp that held the shutter release in place.

    Everything else is either extraneous/not needed (such as the antenna receiver--which fits a stereo-hack antenna), the eye-bolts seen to the right of the solenoid. Actually, one of those is needed so the solenoid pin doesn't completely fall out of place when the solenoid is off, but plenty of other things would work too. I just used eye bolts so I could attach a small cord to hang it from a tripod.

    Right now I am trying to find a shutter with an adjustable plunger. If that doesn't work, I may file my current one down to see how long it needs to be. Obviously to do that I'd need to file it eventually down to the point where it won't work, so I'd need to buy another release and just file it down to a tad longer. My alternate is to just buy a ELD/M and used Hasselblad's radio remove. That could have some advantages as the camera will wind itself, but it has the disadvantage of not being "my" camera. It's all psychological, but I like to have only one camera--I find if I limit my tools/options, while I may miss shots I could otherwise get, I get more creative and I overall have a lot more fun.
     
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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I decided to try again to adjust the remote mechanical shutter release. I believe version 2.0 is substantially better. I've attached some photos, though it isn't fully refined yet (I am waiting to receive a shutter release that may work better).

    I started over, but used the same design. I kept the same solenoid because the other two I tried using weren't quite up to the task--you need a combination of a long enough throw from the solenoid, as well as strong enough. Some solenoids have enough throw to match the range needed to depress a mechanical shutter release, but solenoids may not have enough force if you don't give enough headway. For those not familiar with a solenoid, it's just an electromagnet that, when triggered, propels a magnetic piston forward (or backwards, depending on the type of solenoid you buy). So at the start of the "run," not much of the magnetic part of the piston is within the EM field, so it's going to be weaker.

    I kept the same battery as well--a Milwaukee M12 Li-Ion battery. I tested different batteries pretty thoroughly when I first created this contraption, and many batteries don't have enough draw to take full advantage of the solenoid.

    I purchased a new RF transmitter, though the same type. I got it from Amazon. Pretty much any of them should do, but I used this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EQB8O7K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s03?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

    A simple on/off switch is installed to minimize the risk of battery drain/solenoid over-heating.

    After doing some digging around, I came up with the idea to use cable gland joints. They create a waterproof seal (in theory), but what matters is they clamp down and create a much cleaner look than my prior system. More importantly, I can adjust the cable release's position, which allows me to effectively adjust the throw distance. After some trial and error, I clamped the cable release into a position that just barely triggers the shutter when the solenoid is activated. This means that the solenoid piston is not always in contact with the cable release, as my old plan used, but I have them lined up good enough the solenoid always hits the cable release.

    I used a simple BUD Industries aluminum box to hold everything https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005T7SBHS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. I have another "project box" I may use instead, that while bigger, allows me to easily open/close the box, which would allow me to adjust the shutter release's position in the field more easily, as well as change the batter. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005T6FL18/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The system works great. Unfortunately I don't believe McMaster still sells the exact solenoid I used, (past 69905K45), but it was a sealed linear solenoid, intermittent push, 1/2'' stroke, 48 oz force, 12v DC. The sealed part isn't necessary since it's not exposed to the elements/dust (like it would be in a car engine), and intermittent means it's not meant to be used continuously (ie. it can overheat if you keep it on. It has gotten slightly warm when testing multiple times back-to-back for a minute or so, so practically speaking I don't think overheating would be a concern. Still, in hindsight I wish I just spent more for a continuous-rated solenoid.

    I still have some final adjustments to do--trialing a different cable release that is cylindrical rather than conical. I think I'll get a more solid fit (my current release does fit tightly, but it wobbles side-to-side). However, I may need to use the other box (or a larger aluminum box) for an ideal fit. As you can see, the box I purchased is quite crowded, and due to the screw relief, I cannot move the solenoid any farther towards the cable release--that is why the cable release is clamped to the box so far from the "handle."

    Oh, I just used hot glue to hold everything in place. Seems to work well enough! I don't have a soldering iron, so the wires are just twisted together then covered with electrical tape. The electrical tape around the disc brake of the cable release is just because the brake is broken, so I had to tape it down so it doesn't always lock the release in position each time.

    I will attach additional photographs if/when I "perfect" the design. But it works great!

    IMG_1540.JPG IMG_1538.JPG IMG_1539.JPG
     
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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I forgot to mention--Kaiser makes a cable release with an adjustable throw (called the Kaiser Professional Cable Release, actually, the same cable release is made by multiple companies, often called "Profi" such as the case with Gepe). The throw was actually too long even when adjusted to as short as it would go (simple small bolt cutters could fix that--you adjust the length by screwing the "handle" clockwise/counterclockwise, and then you do the same for a little nut to lock it in place. If you loosen the handle all the way it comes off and you can clip the release there at the top, so that even if you're left with a sharp steel end, it won't be hitting your camera).

    Regardless, the cable release was too bulky (the handle part), too short, and too plastic--I like fabric-covered cable releases--the one in my photos has been around since 2003, so I am not too hard on my releases (I also don't use them that often...)
     
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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    Final product is finished. The new cable release (Gepe T-lock) that I thought would clamp better than my old one didn't, and the thumb "plate" was made out of plastic and I wasn't sure it could take the beating from the steel solenoid piston. My old release has a tougher trigger, so I kept it in place.

    The wiring here is the same as described above, the only differences are the larger (and plastic) box, which latches for easy access/adjustments. I also put the case back on the RF transmitter because with all the extra space, it helped tighten up the space for the battery to wiggles less (plus, a battery flopping around could damage the transmitter). There is a piece of plastic now below the solenoid to prevent the piston from falling out--any number of things could have worked ok in that situation.

    After quite a bit of testing, it seems it takes the exact same force to trip the shutter whether or not the mirror release is up, so I just calibrated the position the cable release is clamped at to just barely trigger the shutter, and it works great regardless of whether I pre-release the mirror or not.

    I hope this is helpful--I know when I first tried building one of these back in 2010 it was difficult to find information.

    IMG_1560.JPG IMG_1558.JPG IMG_1559.JPG IMG_1561.JPG
     
  12. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The first wheather-proof electro-mechanical release I see!
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Quite some cameras that got a mechanical coupling for a remote release (tapered thread) actually are electrically controlled, thus the release button only acts on electrical switches. If there still is some space within the body one may install a microconnector wired in parallel to those switches, and thus remote control the camera by then connecting an eclectrical cable or a radio-receiver.
     
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    brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    If my 501c worked that way this would have been a lot simpler! I do rather like the fact my camera doesn't use any batteries, but it does make the remote release trickier.