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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:06 am 
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I though I'd post this modification as a contribution to the general knowledge pool. I've now done this twice and it's proved very reliable. So here goes...

The Yongnuo RF-603ii (i.e. talking about the mark 2 version here) is a well known and cheap wireless camera/flash trigger for DSLRs (mainly Nikon and Canon) hotshot layouts. It's a manual flash trigger; that is no TTL function on the remote units. But this is not an issue for camera trapping where manual off-camera flash setups tend to be the norm (well what I use anyway). The transmitter / receiver pairs are identical units (interchangeable). Generally speaking they, in my experience, very reliable in that I can't recall ever seeing a non-fire event event except when they or the flash has run out of battery. As I had a bunch of these I wanted to use them to give me a completely wireless DSLR camera trapping setup. To do this it needs:
1) One unit attached to the IR sensor (active or passive) to transmit a camera shutter fire signal to the camera;
2) One unit on the camera hotshot to receive the signal from (1) and then flash fire signal from the camera hotshoe to off camera flashguns;
3) One unit attached to each flashgun to receive the flash fire signal and trigger the flashguns. My setup typically uses two Nikon SB-28 flashes but it can be any number.

The basic problem with the RF-603ii is that there is no input to take a signal from (say) a IR trigger to initiate the sequence in (1). The unit does have a two stage button on top which you can press to initiate focus (half press) and shutter (full press). The modification here is how to hack into that button control to allow this to be wired up to a trigger; hence allowing a full wireless setup to be created.

The second, lesser issue, is that as standard the batteries on a RF-603ii last about 2-3 days when using rechargeable Eneloop type AAAs (750mAh). If you need longer then additional batteries need to be used on each transceiver. I have a separate solution that I noted a few days ago here that allows additional 3V power to be added to these units. I started just extending to 2xAA (3V 2500mAh and about a week) and can also now go to 2xC batteries (about 3V 5000mAh for two weeks) or 6xAA in a modified holder that gives 3V 7200mAh for 3 weeks. 2xD batteries should also give a month and you can really use any additional power source at 3V for this job. You can find info on this at this post viewtopic.php?f=113&t=11506&start=20

So to the modification. First grab your donor RF-603ii and take out all the screws on the underside. That will leave you with the top section that contains all the electronics. The bottom piece with battery compartment and hotshot gubbins is not needed unless you want to reassemble back into the original case (I did my first one like this but this example is to go in a new box with much more battery power). You will see this:
Attachment:
RX100M3-180312-70276.jpg

At this point the circuit board is still attached to the upper hotshot by soldered connections through to the hotshoe terminal. Desolder these connections. In the photo (for the Nikon version) there are 4 solder points on the right side of the circuit board that lie between the four gold O screwholes pictured (it's pretty obvious when you have these in your hand). Once these are desoldered, the circuit board comes free. You can discard those pins too as they are not needed. While you are at it, desolder the red and black leads marked GND and PC that attach the PC Sync plug (not needed). You can also clip off the green, white and yellow wires that attach the original bottom round notched hot shoe circuit board. Also clip off the two battery springs that stick up. Again, not needed. You will now have a clean circuit board and a bunch of bits (none of which we will use again) like this this:
Attachment:
D500 -180328-68494.jpg

The clean circuit board now needs a few wires to be soldered on. I'm jumping here to the finished article:
Attachment:
D500 -180328-68483.jpg

The picture above is the topside of the circuit board! To the right is the actual pushbutton switch on the unit for focus and shutter (white circle in silver square). Direct to the left of that is a white lead going through the board (that hole with a white circle around it is a screw hole to attach the two halves of the box together. The white lead is soldered onto a gold (test point) dot on the circuit board. (You can see other such test point dots on the board scattered about.) The dot the white lead is attached to is the Shutter circuit line. (Tip: to solder this in place on what is a small target, pre-tin, i.e. solder, the dot and the lead then bring them together and apply the solder iron. The two will then melt together and give a good join. This is much more reliable than trying to bring wire and board together and then apply solder to both in one step.)
Three other wires have been added to the board and two can be seen here. The black is soldered to the GND terminal (printed on other side of the board) and red to the IN terminal. I again led the leads through holes here to the other side of the board just to give some strain relief and ensure the solder points and wires are not flexed at these attachment points. A Second black lead is soldered to the GND terminal on the other side of the board (this is going to be used to connect the battery negative to in due course.) Thats it for the board changes. Now it's just a case of putting it together with some sockets and a switch:
Attachment:
D500 -180328-68480.jpg

The pic above shows the board in its case with batteries installed. In the base of the box you can, on the right hand side see a black switch (a simple latching 'push to close' type) and the bottom of a 2.5mm stereo jack plug socket or TRS - Tip/Ring/Sleeve socket. I don't have detailed pics of the assembly but here is what you do:
1) Socket wiring. First wire together the Tip (shutter) and Ring (focus) terminals on the back of the socket together with a small loop of lead (actually orange in the photo in the bottom of the box). [Note: it's quite possible that you don't need this link but the first unit I did, seemed to need this and I copied it straight when doing this one - it might be something to do with the contraptions trigger I use. Perhaps! but it does all work like this]). Then wire the white lead onto the Tip connector and the black lead from the top of the circuit board to the Sleeve (Ground) connector on the socket. That means we have on the socket the following: black running to ground on the circuit board and both the tip and ring connected to white on the circuit board.
2) Battery pack. (Note this is a 6 battery holder modified to wire 3 pairs of AA battery together. Each pair is wired in series to give 3V output and each pair is wired in parallel to give more capacity of 7200mAh. A regular six battery holder will just give 9V at 2400mAh capacity!) Wire the positive terminal on the battery pack to one terminal on the switch and the red lead on the circuit to the second terminal. Then wire the negative terminal on the battery pack to the second (GND) black wire we added to the circuit board.
That's it. Now stuff everything back into the small waterproof box. Add a foam pad to firmly hold the battery pack in place and you should have something like this:
Attachment:
D500 -180328-68479.jpg

Few other bits of information. The box is a small plastic (waterproof) enclosure measuring 100mm x 68mm x49mm (bought on-line). The silver block on the bottom is a bit of aluminium bar tapped with a 1/4 20 UNC thread (Tripod hole) and then a couple of 3.5mm holes and bolted through the base of the enclosure. The switch was sold as waterproof and comes with a rubber gasket. The 2.5mm TRS socket is protected with a drip ring made out of a bit of aluminium tube and stuck to the bottom with some Sugru putty (painted black with a marker pen). The 3.5mm bolt holes are sealed with the same (white stuff). It's a clear box lid only because that's what was cheapest but it turns out to be handy because the status LED on the board is visible when its all sealed up. Next to the fabricated box is a Camtraptions IR sensor, which is itself neat and small (camouflage duct tape is my addition.
The final job is to disguise the new box with tape (leave a little flap so you can see the LED status light if you need to check) and connect the IR and transmitter together with a short 2.5mm to 2.5mm TRS Jack plug lead:
Attachment:
D500 -180328-68487.jpg

Attachment:
D500 -180328-68491.jpg

As used in the field:
Attachment:
D500 -180328-68489.jpg


(Just do make sure that all your RX-603ii's are set to the same frequency using the dip switches and that the circuit board is left with the slide switch on the TRX position (power is now just controlled through the external switch.)

That's it, you now have a wireless link from IR sensor to camera. Hope that's useful to someone!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:05 pm 
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Thanks for your time and effort on this project. Folks on this forum are always pushing the camtrapping envelope and will find it useful.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:02 am 
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Excellent stuff and thanks for sharing with us. I have a set of these and have already bookmarked this topic.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:57 am 
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Excellent! Just one dumb question - normally, the 603 on the camera hot shoe is set to TX and it fires the wireless flashes (which are on TRX). On the left side of the 603 there is a little plug connection point, which I had never really looked at. I presume that this is a two stage trigger input or output? So what you have done is taken that input and connected it to the PIR using another 603? That can then transmit to the on-camera 603 and it dosen't interfere with the flash control?? Still getting my head around it!!
The other mod is the change in power supply. Is this correct?
I fixed the power supply in a slightly different way - I added a plug on the right side to the 603 that goes directly to the internal + and - terminals. I can then connect any type of 3v supply to that. I have been using a rechargeable called "Ultrafire SJ 18650" which produces 3.7 volts (on Ebay). So then I run the power through a pair of in-line diodes to drop the voltage (each diode drops the voltage by about .4v.) I then have about 3 volts and 6000mAh's to play with.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:01 pm 
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Bruce wrote:
Excellent! Just one dumb question - normally, the 603 on the camera hot shoe is set to TX and it fires the wireless flashes (which are on TRX). On the left side of the 603 there is a little plug connection point, which I had never really looked at. I presume that this is a two stage trigger input or output? So what you have done is taken that input and connected it to the PIR using another 603? That can then transmit to the on-camera 603 and it dosen't interfere with the flash control?? Still getting my head around it!!

The other mod is the change in power supply. Is this correct?
I fixed the power supply in a slightly different way - I added a plug on the right side to the 603 that goes directly to the internal + and - terminals. I can then connect any type of 3v supply to that. I have been using a rechargeable called "Ultrafire SJ 18650" which produces 3.7 volts (on Ebay). So then I run the power through a pair of in-line diodes to drop the voltage (each diode drops the voltage by about .4v.) I then have about 3 volts and 6000mAh's to play with.


Not dumb at all, this gets a bit detailed at times...
First the socket bit. To make the unmodified unit on the camera work in this config it needs to be set to TRX (actually all the units must be on this). The camera receives the camera fire signal (on one frequency I believe) from the modified transmitter. The little 2.5mm jack on the side of the unit then is connected to the camera’s shutter release socket and triggers the camera. The flash sync signal is then sent up to the same unit through the hot shoe itself and this is transmitted to the units on the flashguns through a second radio frequency signal. Hence the shutter trigger and flash triggers are actually two separate circuits one operating as a receiver, the second as transmitter (hence TRX).

You may gather from the above that the 2.5mm jack is an output circuit to the camera only.

And yes, the hacked about unit is another unit that has been modified to take an input ‘fire camera shutter’ signal from a PIR. Natively, the Yongnos have no ability to take such an input signal through a socket. The button on top allows that to be done manually and that’s what I hacked to intercept the electronic connections to the button. This is really just hacking into the Yongnuo units second capability, that of acting as a wireless camera shutter release.

Second part (the easier bit) is indeed a mod to the power circuit side to give much more capacity to the units than on AAA batteries. In practice, as you rightly point out there are various ways of doing this. I looked at 18650s too. Given Tesla run their cars on these, they are clearly an option!!!. For the moment and for cost and simplicity I’ve just stuck with eneloop type batteries but I may up the game in future. On the three other units (unmodified) I basically just add the battery eliminators to allow bigger batteries to be plugged in.

HTH


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