Triggertrap

My initial experience with Triggertrap.

30/12/14

Good afternoon hello at tri.gg

Thanks for the prompt dispatch of MD3-N3. Initially the device did not work. But, after some tribulations, it does now. It works, and very well too!

Please read on...

Hardware

Canon 5D mk II
Samsung S5
MD3-N3

Software

Triggertrap version 3.0.0

Settings

150ms trigger pulse length.

Failure scenario

Select "Simple Cable Release". The simplest operation - no joy.

Diagnostics

With a electronics test set I measure left and right audio cable continuity with the dongle. Each read 33nF. So the audio cable seems OK.

Shutter release cable - 7mA drain between both the sleeve and ring; and the sleeve and tip. Camera responds with shutter and auto focus operation.  Camera cable seems OK.  

(Note the evil spirits in the cable - it passed my test - just as it would have done several months ago in China. Read on!)

I remove the silly flap from the back of the mobile phone and connect everything up. It works! I can fire single shots in "Simple Cable Release" mode.

I reattach the silly flap back on the phone.

Good! The fault can be recreated. I have found the fault. Categorically definitively and repeatedly. I am so utterly proud of my "Mr Fixit" reputation!

Fix

I use a sharp scalpel to remove a 1mm sliver of plastic from 3.5 mm audio jack plug. The plug now beds in nicely when inserted into the phone.

Looking Good!

I set the software to "Simple Cable Release" and I click away..."Click" "Click" "Click"

I also make several noises similar to the "Life of Brian" mad jailers in this video. [About 28 seconds into the clip.]

Hang on...

While in "Bulb Mode" and "Press and lock" I discover a dodgy connection with the 3.5 mm jack to the camera cable. We have a gold plated plug - but a tin plated socket. That's no good! Rotating the plug within the socket causing the shutter to fire intermittently.

"Must be some flux in there!" I spit.
"Tarnish?" I ponder.
"Just a crappy connector!" I conclude.

Void that warranty

It's not worth my time faffing and sending everything back to Triggertrap - that won't fix the design fault. (And what'd be fun in that? And I like chasing multiple intermittent faults in consumer electronics. It arouses me!)

I retrieve the scalpel that's now lodged itself in my left leg and open up the "dongle".

One hot soldering iron later and I've removed the 3.5mm socket from the PCB. (I can do this - I have several decades of working with electronics. I have the nack.)

I dismantle the cable running to the 3.5mm plug so that I can get the wiring colours for the tip (red), ring (white), sleeve (yellow). The red wire is broken! That wire feeds the tip and shutter. Broken when the moulded plug was made! There's a strand of copper just about making the connection.  

I solder the wires straight to PCB, then reassemble.

Testing

With the camera in "Bulb" and software in "Press and lock" it works! Wonderful! I can bash the whole assembly! The shutter stays open! Rock solid! Marvellous! "Click" "Cluunnk" "Click" "Cluunnk" "Click" "Cluunnk"

It's fixed!

Conclusion

So it's working. Maybe the initial fault wasn't a fault, just the intermittent second fault fooling me. Laughing at me. Anyway it works!

Suggestions for manufacturing

Test the cable continuity/resistance with several amps flowing. (Not too much so that connectors melt!) This will help identify poorly made moulded connectors.

Don't mix tin and gold connectors.

Check 3.5 audio jack clearence with mobile phone cases.

A suggestion for the quick guide

When using "Press and Release" - make sure the camera is in bulb mode. (For the Canon 5d mk II rotate the camera's settings dial to "B".)  

"Onwards and Upwards!"

I take it, a nephew, the Canon 5D mk II and the Samsung S5 to a local testing ground at Pitsford Reservoir. It's a local picturesque spot with birds, water, cars, people, derelict barns to shoot.

I placed the TraggerTrap App into Timelapse 1 second repeat.

"Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk dd chunkk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk dd chunkk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk" "Clunk"

Irregular firing -  Yes, I had an incoming call!

What did I learn?

Put the phone into Airplane Mode. (No, the phone doesn't start flying.) Having the phone's transmitter switched off will:

  • Prevent you from receiving incoming phone calls.
  • Stop ring tones appearing on the earpiece audio and firing the shutter.
  • Stop RF getting up the MD3-N3 dongle. (Picturesque area means weak GSM signals so full power signals from the phone.)

I need to investigate and prove the last two points above, but Airplane Mode seems a good rule to follow.     

Timelapse

You probably don't need the highest RAW resolution that the camera can provide - use a low res jpg format.

Some erratic timelapses...

Northampton to Leominster (20 second intervals => 30 fps F11 Aperture priority RAW ISO 1600 )

Leominster to M42 Services (10 second intervals => 30 fps F11 Aperture priority RAW ISO 1600 )

M42 Services to Northampton (10 second intervals => 30 fps  F4 1/100 JPG ISO 6400 ))

 

Photoshop

Persuading Photoshop to perform a pre-defined set series of adjustments to a directory of RAW images does not generate consistent results. Applying the same black, fill light and exposure to the files seems inconsistent. The constant twilight background should be the same between each frame. The dynamic content of each image affects the static parts of the image: the sky brightens and dims.

Another tool is required!

Zeitraffer

Zeitraffer is a simple tool for creating a time-lapse movie from multiple images. 

Select a directory containing image files (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP or RAW), and press the Export button to make a movie. Options are available such as file order, frame rate, output size and file format.

I use the app to create a 30 fps example movie from 89 images.

30 fps was the Zeitraffer default. Maybe 24 fps is adequate.

File Time Stamps

The Canon time stamps image files with a resolution of 2 seconds.

Below I'm using "forfiles" under Windows 8...

e:\harvest>forfiles /m *.cr2 /c "cmd /c echo @file @ftime"

"IMG_3220.CR2" 17:01:38
"IMG_3221.CR2" 17:01:40
"IMG_3222.CR2" 17:01:40
"IMG_3223.CR2" 17:01:42
"IMG_3224.CR2" 17:01:42
"IMG_3225.CR2" 17:01:44
"IMG_3226.CR2" 17:01:44
"IMG_3227.CR2" 17:01:46
"IMG_3228.CR2" 17:01:46
"IMG_3229.CR2" 17:01:48
 
So you can't delete any "extra" spurious files just looking at file times!

Checklist

  • Manual Focus
  • Bulb
  • Airplane mode

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