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Minolta Remote Shutter Release

** See disclaimer at the end of this page **

This is not an original work, just a reproduction of info that is available somewhere in the cloud of the WWW. All text and images have been reconstructed as per my findings for constructing the device.

This page details how you can save upto £50 on the cost of a remote shutter release for Minolta cameras. The Minolta I use is a DiMage 5 which has a small 3 pin plug to which the Minolta remote release attaches. At the time of writing, the 5m long cable RC-1000L was £39 and the 0.5m long cable RC-1000S cost £29. There was no way I was going to pay that for what in essence was a simple switch.

A quick trawl of the web turned up this resource: http://main.ut1.com/~monks/ which linked to various discussion groups covering this very cable.

In short, the product has two buttons, one to control the pre image processes (the half press of the shutter release) and the other to actually release the shutter (complete press of the shutter button). This translates into the 3 pins of the camera port as follows:-

pin 1 (left )- pre image
pin 2 (centre) - common
pin 3 (right) - fire

however, the operation is slightly different in that to actually fire the camera, all 3 pins needed to be connected together. So.....shorting pins 1 & 2 would initiate pre imaging (autofocus etc), shorting pins 2 & 3 does nothing, shorting pins 1,2 & 3 fires the shutter.

On the forums, there was talk of using momentary action switches. As I wanted to use the camera for long exposures, these were abandoned in favour of normal push buttons. As it happens, these buttons were 'donated' from an old BBC Model B computer keyboard. I added a further toggle switch into the equation so that the pre-image button could be switched permanently into the circuit if necessary - for night shots I tend to set the camera focus manually so this was not needed. The switch, when operated, links pins 1 & 2. A press of the fire button then completes the circuit, taking the photo. In the case of using the Bulb setting, holding the button down leaves the shutter open for as long as the button is pressed (upto 30 secs for the DiMage 5 in full manual exposure mode).

Build it and he will come (any Married With Children fans out there?)

The bits I used were as follows:-
An audio CD to soundcard cable (the small white connector is all that's actually needed)
2 push to make buttons
1 miniature DPST toggle switch (doesn't have to be a DPST, that's what I had lying around)
a suitable length of 3 or 4 core audio cable (twin screened is sufficient)
1 DAT tape box to house the unit (yep, the DAT box strikes yet again!)

Luckily, I had all this stuff to hand in my spares box so the cable release cost absolutely nothing. I guess all the bits could be purchased for £5 maximum. Failing that, a good source for basic parts is car boot sales - you'd be surprised just what you can pick up and how little it costs (e.g. a stainless steel microwave for £5.....associated pages coming soon!).

The circuit (for what it is) is presented here:

circuit diagram

The CD cable has 4 pin sockets, so the extra pin (no wire already connected to it) needed suitable 'remodeling' (hacking with a knife). Fortunately, after hacking the white plug, the polarising slot matches perfectly with the similar lug on the camera.

CD cable CD cable, hacked!

After the 'spare' piece was cut off, the socket was offered to the plug on the camera. The socket was too tall, so material needed to be taken off the lower edge of the socket. This was achieved by careful use of a sharpening stone, but any suitable abrasive can be used.

CD cable and camera socket

Next all that had to be done was to construct the box. This I made from an old DAT tape box, a pair of keys from an old computer keyboard and a small switch. The switch was wired in parallel with the 'pre image' button.

finished article

The buttons were hot melt glued into the DAT box and connected to the CD audio cable. The above photo shows the switch at the very top (connected to the pre-image button) and the 2 buttons.

The finished article won't win any design awards, but it works, and maybe the resultant images will.....

At the very least I've saved myself £30 over the cost of the genuine article.

Update 10th August 2004
Pin 1 is the white cable
Pin 2 is the black cable
Pin 3 is the red cable
Button 1 is has the additional pair of white/orange wires soldered to it
Same colour coding followed through the switch / button box.



Update 5th September 2004
Noticed a discussion on dpreview about which pin is the common. Simple answer, it makes no difference. The key here is that for the shutter to fire, all 3 pins need to be shorted. The shutter will not fire unless the first 2 pins are connected, so the argument over which is common is mute. 1 or 2 might be 'common', but as all 3 need to be connected, in reality there is no common.

Disclaimer

Neither myself, www.devilgas.com, my family, my friends, my pets or my parrot take any responsibility whatsoever for any damage caused to anything or anyone by duplicating what I've done. If you feel confident in not destroying your expensive digital imaging equipment by trying this little ditty, that's your choice and not mine.

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