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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:24 pm 
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I know, it's been a year and a half since this thread was started. Since Sean made it a sticky I guess I better finish it.

The topic for this installment is how to connect a motion detector to a DSLR camera. The equipment involved will be a Canon XTi, a Snapshot Sniper SSII a waterproof case and misc hardware. Opinions vary on whether the motion detector should be part of the camera housing or separate. Personally I like to have the detector separate. Usually the best location for the camera is not the best location for the motion detector. Plus having it separate enables you to match the detector to the size of the target area.

DSLR cameras typically have three connections that need to be made. Shutter, metering and ground. The XTi has a 2.5mm stereo jack on the side of the camera.

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I like to use a right angle connector at the camera to save space. A good source for this is a cheap remote shutter controller available on eBay for less than $3.00. The connector is pre-wired and works well. 2.5mm male connectors are readily available. When you use other models and brands of cameras the remote connector can be a little more strange. This is where the cheap shutter controls are a great source for the correct connector.

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Keep in mind though, the wire colors will vary with brand and production run. So check each cord before use.

The illustration below shows the wiring of the 2.5mm plug for the XTi camera.

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On the Canon XTi and most other Canon DSLR camera all you need is to pull the shutter line to ground to activate the shutter. On Nikon and some other brands of DSLR cameras the metering line also needs to be pulled to ground to take a picture. So, to keep everything standard I always build the motion detector to work with Nikon. It will then work with Canon and most other DSLR cameras.

The motion detector for this project is the Snapshot Sniper SSII. It is readily available, economical and customer service is top notch. Plus the ease of programming allows me to make timing changes based on the proposed shot.

The connections to the SSII are very straight forward. Three connections: ground, metering and shutter.

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The SSII uses a dual optocoupler to isolate the PIC controller from the camera. An opto coupler is nothing more than a LED and phototransistor in a small package. When the LED is powered the phototransistor detects the light and acts like a NPN transistor sinking the collector to ground (emitter). It's a great way to protect the motion detector and camera.

The enclosure for this project is a Serpac RB33. It is a rugged waterproof box and the price is right. http://www.serpac.com/rb-series.aspx . A friend dipped this one for me. Mounted on the front is the Fresnel lens for the SSII. On the bottom is a four pin AMP connector and on/off switch. An exposed switch is usually not a good way to turn this on and off. A better way is to either eliminate the switch or use the extra pin to complete the power circuit to the SSII. That way when you plug the cable in, the SSII will come on.

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In part five we will hook everything together and set it up in the back yard for testing.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:16 pm 
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Really nice built!
Why exactly do you place the sensor in an extra case? Do you want to be more flexible on location?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:23 pm 
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It's all about tools in the tool box. Every camera trap requires different tools to capture the intended subject. Usually the best location for the camera is not the best location for the motion detector. Having it separate gives me the ability to better cover the target area, limiting false triggers from the sun, moving weeds, etc.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:32 pm 
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Good info for us non-tech guys...! Will be giving the off-camera sensor a go for my next build....!

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:54 pm 
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Excellent installment -- and it's great to have these protocols posted here.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:00 am 
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Okay, I understand what you mean.
Has anybody tried to trigger the camera wirelessly from an external sensor? There are several solutions for that I think, but I've never tried it.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:09 am 
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Very nice! I have been waiting for your continuation… ;)
You are using the SSII as is? I believe it is programmed with a 1 minute pause between events as default. I find that a bit limiting. The Trialmaster 550, I am also using, have a minimum pause of 6 seconds and I have sometimes wished that could be made even shorter. I have therefore ordered a Picaxe 8M starting kit so I can reprogram the chip in the SSII. I will then also be able to change the shutter trip time (now 1 second I believe).

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:40 am 
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Very nice, have you ever tried using two sensors? leaving the SSII in the case with the camera and then using a remote as well? I know there's a model of Harbor Freight wireless driveway alert that can be used to trigger the control boards.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:43 am 
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Lars Holst Hansen wrote:
You are using the SSII as is? I believe it is programmed with a 1 minute pause between events as default. I find that a bit limiting. I have therefore ordered a Picaxe 8M starting kit so I can reprogram the chip in the SSII. I will then also be able to change the shutter trip time (now 1 second I believe).

The stock programming on the SSII gives you either 1 minute delay (feeder) or no delay (trail). You're going to love playing with the programming, you can set up to shutter instantly with small pauses in between shutter pulses or even hold the shutter down for continuous shooting.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:50 am 
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julius.kramer wrote:
Okay, I understand what you mean.
Has anybody tried to trigger the camera wirelessly from an external sensor? There are several solutions for that I think, but I've never tried it.


Yes, it's very easy to do. I usually use a cheap wireless remote. Hook the output of the SSII to the transmitter and put the receiver in the camera case. The only downside to using the cheap parts is temperature tolerance. Anything below about 20 degrees F is intermittent.

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