Back in early 2010, I post the article about how to make a smart optical slave flash trigger using Arduino prototyping system. Wyatt Olson of The Digital Cave has come up with a new design that uses plain AVR.

The circuits and programming codes are not the same but the working principles of both systems are very similar. The smart flash triggers can watch pre-flashes emitted by Nikon flashes and trigger dumb slave flash in sync with the main flash. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on November 23rd, 2011. No Comments.

Not long ago, I posted an article about how to modify a cheap eBay wireless flash trigger to make poor man’s RadioPopper PX. At that time, I tested the modified transmitter and receiver and found that they worked reasonably well. However the entire system was not practical because all I had were the exposed circuit boards with exposed parts and dangling wires. In order to evaluate them for real world applications, I managed to re-solder the parts and put them in the original enclosures. There is enough space inside the original enclosure to hold the parts. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on May 28th, 2010. 5 Comments.

Both Canon and Nikon offer infrared based wireless flash controls. This type of systems, similar to your TV remotes, suffer from typical line-of-sight limitations because the infrared light cannot go through wells. In a studio environment, it is not too bad because the signals can still get bounced around by the walls and ceilings and reach the infrared sensor of the remote flash. It can be very problematic in an outdoor environment if the remote flash isn’t in the line-of-sight of the master unit.

To overcome this limitation, RadioPopper has come up with the RadioPopper PX system that transmit the signals via RF instead of infrared. It appears to be very popular despite the awkward device mounting requirements. The magic comes with a high cost though. That’s probably why many have tried to roll their own. Most recently we covered two examples from Europe: Italian version and Polish version. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on May 18th, 2010. 4 Comments.

First a Italian guy did it, now the Polish guys did it too! It all started when someone wanted to transmit the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL) signals via RF waves, just like the RadioPopper PX system, using cheap Phottix brand wireless flash trigger. After some extensive collabration over the discussion thread (Google translation to English), it finally worked. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on May 14th, 2010. No Comments.

The YN-460 is a very low cost manual-mode-only shoe mount flash made by a Chinese company Yongnuo. It has become very popular in the strobist community due mostly to its low cost and good performance.

In order to change flash power level, the user is required to physically push the buttons on the backside of the unit. This typically means running back-and-forth when setting up the lights if they are used off-camera. If you are handy enough to use a soldering iron and program a micro-controller, you can make your life much easier. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on April 22nd, 2010. No Comments.

Our Italian reader Ale (who recently commented on DPTnT on this post) has been working on an interesting DIY project (Italian) for more than a year. From what I could read with the help of Google Translation, it started as prototype transmitter/receiver built using Microchip PIC16F690 demo boards that had functions similar to the RadioPopper PX system. Basically, the transmitter picks up the light pulses from popup flash of a Nikon camera in commander mode then sends the signal over radio frequency waves. The receiver then duplicates the signal at the infrared sensor window of the remote flashe. The benefits of such CLS-via-radio system over the original infrared-based Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL) communication are no line-of-sight limitation, longer range, and more reliable operation. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography, Photography DIY on April 15th, 2010. 1 Comment.

I started to look at the communication between Nikon DSLR camera and Speedlight flash not long ago as documented in the post titled Nikon Flash Interface. It turned out to be quite easy to control a Nikon Speedlight flash using a low cost micro-controller board such as the Arduino Duemilanove. I will show you how this can be done using a simple example: instruct the flash to emit the pre-flash. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on April 14th, 2010. 3 Comments.

It is difficult to determine when the accessory shoe first appeared on Nikon SLR cameras. The very early ones might be a simple “cold shoe”, which could hold a flash but the triggering signal was sent via additional cable between flash and camera. You could fine one like that on a Nikkorex F (1962). Later, the electrical connections were made within the shoe. That’s when it became “hot” and was called “hot shoe”.

On the Nikormat EL (introduced 1973), the first Nikon SLR with fully automatic exposure, there was a single contact that looks like the X-sync contact. It worked with the SB-2 and SB-3 that were introduced a year earlier. The legendary Nikon F3 added a extra contact for flash ready light. The current Nikon hot shoe interface was probably first seen on Nikon FG (1982) and later on Nikon F4 when TTL flash function was implemented. Even though the physical dimensions and contact arrangements remained the same, the functions of the contacts have changed over time. The function description of the contacts for old Nikonos and Nikon film SLR cameras can be found here. On fairly recent flashes such as the Nikon SB-800 and SB-600, the old cameras are still supported but when the flash is mounted on the latest digital SLR camera, the signals going through the contacts are quite different.

After decoding the optical communication protocol of Nikon’s Advanced Wireless Lighting (AWL), I simply followed my curiosity and tried to decode the electrical communication between a Nikon D200 and Nikon SB-800. Read More…

Posted in DIY Photography on April 4th, 2010. 15 Comments.
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