PixController Universal Camera
Connecting other Digital Cameras
Universal board supports "hardwired" cameras
(digital and 35mm). A list of supported cameras and PIC
control chips can be found by clicking
here. "Hardwired" means you have to modify the
camera in order the be remote controlled by the PixController Universal
board. This is not a hard process to do in most cases, and we
include step-by-step examples on how to do this.
Caution! Please keep in
mind that if you modify a camera for use with the
PixController Universal board, or any other PixController
board we are not responsible for any damage to your camera.
This can be a delicate process, and if you do not have any
experience in working with small electronic devices, and you
are not comfortable with soldering please get some help when
taking on a project like this. In most cases you will also
void the warranty of your camera. If you do not feel
comfortable modifying a digital camera we suggest you look at
our RS-232 Universal controller,
which will no require you to modify the camera.
Digital Camera Modification
(For help modifying
digital cameras not found on our list)
If you modify a digital camera not on our
list we would be happy to
post your modifications on our web site for other users.
||1. Choosing a
digital camera - The first step in this process is to
locate a camera that will work well as a trail camera. Things
to look for are to make sure it's a "point-n-shoot"
type camera. This means it won't have a zoom lens, and you
want something with a fairly flat camera face. The reason you
don't want a zoom lens camera is because most cameras with a
zoom lens tend to be slower and can make more noise when the
zoom the lens out on power up. This can also make it more
difficult to get your camera into a water proof case. Secondly
the flat face of the camera front will also help when you put
your camera into a case. You will need to mask the flash from
the camera lens to avoid "flash bleed", which will
wash out your night photos. Another point to remember is when
you construct your camera build it with 2 separate pieces of
glass for the flash and camera lens.
2. Locating the Shutter and Refresh contacts -
This next step can be a little overwhelming or down right
scary the first time you do it. You will have to open your
digital camera up and locate the Shutter and Refresh contacts.
When taking your camera apart remember to put all of the small
screws into a container so you don't loose them. Keep notes on
how you took it apart so you can put it back together!
The Shutter and Refresh contacts are often located right at
the camera's shutter button. In most cases you will find a
button soldered down to a small circuit board, which may have
4 solder contacts. One will be the Shutter, and one will be
the Refresh (if your camera has one), and in some cases one
will be the Common or Camera ground.
To find which contact is what you will need to use an Ohm
meter, and set it in the "Ohms" position. This is
best done with 2 people since you will need more than 2 hands
to perform this task.
Next, have one person press down on the shutter button. When
pressing down you will feel a half click, and this is the
Refresh, or auto focus. The camera will use this to focus the
camera and top off the flash before taking a photo. Not all
digital cameras have this function. With your ohm meter move
it from contact to contact, and you are looking for a switch
closing. You will see the meter go from infinite resistance to
less than a few ohms when the button is pressed in. Do this
process for the shutter too, which is the shutter button
pressed all the way down. You should find one contact that's
in common with the shutter and refresh, and this will be your
Make note of these positions, Shutter, Refresh, and Common,
and solder a small gauge wire to them so you can connect them
to the appropriate contacts on the Universal board.
3. Locating the Power On/Off contact - Lastly you will
need to locate the power on/off contact. With a push button
power on/off type camera this is usually a button under the
power button on the camera. Again it probably will have 4
contacts like the shutter button does, but it may only have 2
contacts as well. Using the method you learned in locating the
Shutter and Refresh contacts you will do the same thing here.
One contact will be power on/off and the other will be ground.
Solder a small gauge wire to the Power on/off contact, then
connect to appropriate contact on the Universal board (power
With Lens Cover Slide type digital cameras you will be looking
for a small switch usually located on the lens cover slide
itself. Again, you will attach one wire the power on/off, and
one to the ground. Good examples of this are with the D-380,
and D-395 wiring examples for the RSP3i-U
or RSP4i-U PIC chip.
4. Is the camera fast enough? - One big consideration
when choosing a digital camera to modify is if the camera can
power up fast enough to shutter a photo. The easiest way to
tell is simply power up your digital and time the amount of
time it takes to have the camera ready to shutter a photo. Any
time that is 3 seconds or under is considered good enough for
trail camera use. Slower cameras can be used, but you need to
make sure you setup your trail camera in an area where the
subject will stay around for the initial power on delay. This
delay is caused by charging up the cameras flash, and also it
can be caused by the memory card. With some cameras the larger
the memory card the slower the camera will power up. This is
especially true of the Olympus D-390 and D-395.
5. Is the cameras flash good enough? - Another
consideration is if the cameras flash is good enough.
Sometimes the manufacture will provide specifications for the
flash range. Usually anything over 12 feet is considered
useful. Anything 6 feet or under is considered poor. One thing
you can do is force the ISO setting to 400 or better to
achieve longer flash ranges (not all digital cameras have this