Monday, May 5, 2014

How To Trigger a Camera with Skyports

 The cable on the left is the Flash Zebra cable, the cable to the right is my altered audio cable.

I don't put too many "How To" posts up here.  There are a few reasons for that.  First the internet is big and probably already has the information I would write about.  Second, I am the kind of person that feels if I can figure something out it can't be that frickin' hard.

This particular task gave me enough fits, and the information I found the 'net was incomplete (missing a PICTURE which would have helped me a lot ).

Here is the original discussion that led me to this solution.  (Note the missing pictures!)

The problem: I have Elinchrom Skyport triggers.  That isn't really a problem, most of the time they do what I need, trigger flashes.  But, a long while ago I decided I wanted to trigger my camera with them.  Nikon's higher end cameras utilize a 10 pin connector.  I needed a cable that could hook up to the camera on one end, and a trigger on the other.  I got this from Flash Zebra.

Note that the description SPECIFICALLY states this is for a Pocket Wizard triggers.  I didn't.  I hooked it up, it didn't work.  I wrote Flash Zebra asking if there was anything I could do.  He said not really, and despite the fact that this was entirely my fault he offered a refund.  I didn't take him up on that.  It was my fault, after all.  Besides, someday I thought I might get Pocket Wizards.  And did I mention this was my fault? [As an aside, the customer is not always right, and those of you who are the customers and act that way in all situations ... you are probably a jerk.]

Recently I decided I would look into this more, and fired up Google and found that Flickr thread.

Here is what is needed:

1.  The Flash Zebra Cable
2. A 1/8" male/female audio cable [It maybe called an extension cable].  I used a stereo cable, but a mono would be better.  I just didn't find one locally.
3. A 22nF capacitor.  These will be marked 223 on the capacitor.  I don't think the letter is all that important to this application, but it is a measure of the tolerance of the cap compared to its nominal value.  Mine is a 223J, which I think means its +/-5%, but I'm too lazy to look it up.  You can if you wish though.
4. Basic soldering stuff (iron, solder, etc).
5. Meter with a continuity checker.
6. Electric tape

What to do:

1.  Cut the audio cable in two pieces and strip an end off all the wires.
2.  (Optional for Stereo cable) Figure out which wire is attached to the tip of the cable with your meter.  This is the positive wire.  On my cable this was the black wire.
3.  (Optional for Stereo able) Twist the other two wires together.
   [ Note: if for some reason you found a capacitor that has to be oriented a certain way, you will need to do this even if you have a mono audio cable.  I don't know enough about electronic bits to know if a 22nF capacitor even comes that way.  Mine didn't. ]
4.  Take one half of the prepared wire and solder the capacitor to the positive and negative wires.
5.  Solder the half of the wire to this bit.  (See the picture -- I wish I had a picture before.  It would have saved me heartache.  See, I have read enough electronic books I can do the math, and figure out simple designs that should work [in theory].  But, I have pretty much zero practical hands-on experience.  Think of it like the computer science student who can tell you the algorithm for creating a binary tree, but can't actually implement it in a programming language.)
6. Insulate it with tape. [ It probably be nicer to use shrink tubing, and other things.  I will worry about prettifying this later if I use it enough. ]

The end.  One I day I may make pictures with this, but today isn't that day.  Aside, of course, from a few clicks of my D200's shutter I tried to see if it works. It did, hence the post.

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