Palm Remote Shutter Release Cable
Although my pinhole camera (part 1 and part 2) experiments led me to this subject, this post isn’t specifically design related. I wasn’t able to find a great resource online for this subject, so I thought I would share my experience with anyone looking for an alternative to the Nikon MC-EU1 Remote release cord. If you are interested in this kind of thing, here is how I made a Remote Shutter Release Cord for my Nikon Coolpix 5000 digital camera…
I have been talking about how I am making a digital pinhole camera. Obviously I am going to need to take long exposures, and that means that I need a remote shutter release cord for my camera. For my Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera there is really only one main option: the Nikon MC-EU1 Remote Release cord. In addition to overwhelmingly poor reviews, it comes with a steap pricetag of $87 - $120. With a little research, I found out that there are several people that have written sofware that emulates the MC-EU1 protocol allowing you to control Nikon digital cameras from a computer, PocketPC, or Palm handheld.
The first thing you need is a SC-EW3 serial cable to connect your camera to the computer or Palm Handheld. You can order one from Nikon or better yet save a few bucks and buy it from Harbortronics. Harbortronics has a bunch of great products for digital cameras including the DigiSnap 2000, which is another option for an MC-EU1 alternative. Unfortunately, it is $129, and since I am looking for a cheap option, I just bought the cord and passed on the DigiSnap 2000.
As long as your computer has an open serial port, you should be able to connect the camera and computer with the SC-EW3 cord. All you need is some software. There are a couple of sites with remote software including Krinnicam. I had good results using The Force. Obviously being attatched to a computer is going to severely limit your photography options, so software that runs on a Palm PDA will allow you the mobility you need. For that, you will need CoolRemote. CoolRemote is a program written for the Palm OS by Vladimir Vyskocil and is available for free here. His site includes detailed information about installation and troubleshooting of his software. (For the PocketPC users, Snappix is a program that should work for you.)
Now lets talk a little more about the Palm. Vyskocil provides a list of documented success with Coolpix and various Palms, but I imagine it is more compatible than the short list shows. If you don’t already have a palm, you don’t need anything fancy. For less than $50 on Ebay, I purchased a Palm M105 with some extra accessories including an additional serial cord. You could use the hotsync cradle, but the straight cord is nice so you don’t have the bulk of the cradle to get in the way. If you have a newer Palm like the M505, your Palm will have a USB cord, so you will need to buy a serial cord or figure out some way to convert it to a serial connection.
Once you have your SC-EW3 cable attatched to your camera and a serial cable coming out of your Palm with CoolRemote installed on it, there is one more thing that you have to do. You will probably be stuck with two female ends to your cords. To solve that problem, you will need two adapters. First you need Male DB9 to Male DB9 gender adapter (Radioshack part #26-231). You will also need a Null Modem Adapter (Radioshack part #26-264B). This cost me about $15 from Radioshack, but you could probably make these parts yourself if you know what you are doing. Here is a picture of the connection between the cords:
Now you should be able to fire up your Palm, open the CoolRemote application, connect to your camera, and take pictures. To recap, here is a list of advantages to our alternative to the Nikon MC-EU1 cord:
- Consumer complaints about Nikon’s MC-EU1 say that the product is buggy and not worth the money.
- This way you get a Palm and all the applications and benefits that your handheld device has to offer.
- Your cord is longer. The MC-EU1 is only a few feet. Our improvised version has at least 8 feet of cord with the option of using extentions if you need extra length.
- CoolRemote allows you to do everything that can be done on the MC-EU1. Using the software, you can do things that can’t be done with the MC-EU1.
- You can buy a Palm, cords, and adapters for less than the price of the MC-EU1. By the time I bought a Palm, the cords, and the adapters, the cost is pretty close to the same as the MC-EU1, but some Nikon cameras already come with the serial cord, and you could probably buy a cheaper Palm than the M105.
I hope some of you find this information useful. If I can help anyone, let me know.