"Hacking" the remote control


Below is how the remote control for this camera (Nikon D80) works. I have no idea how common this design is, so you'll have to open yours to see how it works. There are three metal plates which can be bended by pressing the button.

Situation I: The control is at rest and none of the metal plates make contact with each other.

Situation II: The button is pressed down halfway and the first two contacts touch each other; the camera measures the exposure and focuses.

Situation III: The button is pressed down completely and all three plates make contact with each other; the camera takes the picture.

Situation IV: This is what my "hacked" remote control looks like. I soldered wires to all three plates and the connections will be activated electronically by using two relays (see below).


The sensor - part I


This system is based on a PIR (passive IR) detector SE-10 which can be bought online. The PIR sensor has a high output when at rest, and a low output when it is activated. This signal is inverted by the inverter and this in turn opens the two sequential relays which gives the signal to the camera to take a picture. The effectiveness of this sensor was quite a surprise for me, but it really worked very well! It has taken all the pictures that my trap took in 2013.


The not so pretty collection of electronics. I soldered this together in a quick and pretty dirty way just to test it, but I never got to the point of redoing it in a better way because I put the camera trap outside as soon as I found out that this sensor worked. I might have gotten a bit carried away....


The complete setup. The electronics are stored in the plastic tube on the left and the remote control is the black thing to the right of the electronics. I covered the inside of the box with white insulation to minimize the sound of the camera taking a picture.


After several months with this "MacGyver-style" sensor, I connected a different power supply to my sensor which ruined it. My suspicion is that it destroyed one of the relays, but I haven't tested it.


The sensor - part II


As the homemade sensor didn't work anymore and I was hooked on camtrapping, I decided to install a more reliable sensor which is made for the job, namely the Snapshot Sniper SSII. A cool thing with this sensor is that you can program the chip yourself and adjust everything to your needs.

Front view with the new sensor installed.


And the updated complete setup! I have also hacked the flash so that it is connected to a more powerful power source, which is the green thing on the right.


The housing


I ordered a solid metal box specifically designed for housing electronics outdoors.

The housing with holes drilled for the sensor, camera and flash. Also added are two rings and the bar through which the lock will go. Since I have to do this stuff in my kitchen with a limited supply of tools, it doesn't look very pretty unfortunately, but at least it works.


The basic setup. The hole to the left of the flash is where the sensor will end up.


The outside after glue was added. The ending of the snorkel is an old UV-filter which will protect the lens.


Some "sophisticated anti-smoothing" added.


After painting.


This is what the two rings are for, this makes the camera pretty easy to carry with you, since it is not exactly a lightweight!


And finally, the lock which will (hopefully) prevent it from getting stolen.


The camera waiting for wildlife.


An alternative set-up, with an external flash.