The Remote Timer

Canon makes a SLR camera remote timer that sells for a couple hundred dollars. Using inspiration from various web sites I built one for myself using about $15 worth of parts from RadioShack.

First, it is a simple wired camera remote control. Just plug the cable into the remote jack on the Canon SLR camera and the black button on top will trigger the camera auto focus, while the red button will focus then take a picture.

Second, it is a timer than can be used for time lapse photography. A 9-volt source (battery or DC adapter) powers a circuit I built using a 555 timer and a 6-way rotary switch where each way is hooked up to different resistors. Switching between these different resistors varies the timer interval. The timer triggers a relay switch at specified intervals which causes the camera to take pictures. It is based on the astable 555 timer circuit described here. I used the following capacitor and resistors:

  • C = 3300 µF
  • R1 = 1000 Ω
  • R2 = 620 Ω (~5 second delay)
  • R2 = 2670 Ω (~15 second delay)
  • R2 = 10000 Ω (~48 second delay, I just realized I calculated this one incorrectly, as I intended for it to be 30 seconds)
  • R2 = 15000 Ω (~1 minute delay)
  • R2 = 65000 Ω (~5 minute delay)
  • R2 = 200000 Ω (~10 minute delay)

Here are some photos of the actual device:

Okay, so the innards are a little sloppy. This was my first real electronics project. The soldering took some practice, and I actually hosed my first circuit board and had to start it over.

Here is a simple example of the sort of thing this timer allows me to do. I set it up to take a picture of a glass of ice cubes every minute for a couple of hours (i.e. until the battery in my camera ran out).

Ah, stupid YouTube! The aspect ratio is wrong, but you get the idea.

12 thoughts on “The Remote Timer”

  1. just think about how fast those ice cubes would have melted if it wasn’t 2 degrees Fahrenheit outside. maybe you can try this again in the summer.

  2. OK, No, I don’t get it, BUT, that’s OK— as for the box/?? might be suspicious in an airport?? Seriously, that is quite the contraption, does this mean , you can take more FAM. photos???? wa-hoooooo,, I’m IMPRESSED!!!!!! hugs, nan

  3. What “Don” said…. Sure would like more info to allow building up one of these. Nice work BTW. Thanks Hank

  4. Nice work! How about using a variable resistor (or perhaps two in series/parallell) to get a more flexible adjustment of the times? And perhaps a LED that lights up so you can “dry run” to check the time between triggers?

    Also, if you let the relay trgger the port for a second or two, that might allow for the camera to shut down between shots and be re-activated by the remote? (I havent checked if this works with a remote, but my 350D wakes up when I press the button)

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