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DIY Infrared (IR) Transmitter for the DSLR.bot iPhone App

DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Finished ProductAbout a week ago I saw a post on the DIY Photography blog about an iPhone app that can trigger your DSLR called DSLR.Bot ($4.99).  After watching another DIY video on how to make the IR transmitter I felt like this was a great little project to tackle.  The app and the IR transmitter act like a wireless intervalometer.

I already have the Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote, but I enjoy creating HDR images and my Nikon D40 does not have a built in bracking function so all my shots are done manually which takes extra time and the clouds will not wait.  After doing some research on the DSLR.bot website I found out that this has not been tested with the Nikon D40.  I contacted the developer and asked if there was a lite version to trial before dropping the $5.  Unfortunately there was not, but I was given a promo code to use to download the app for free.  (Please do not bother the developer with a similar requests if your camera model is shown as tested on the spec page.)  DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked or pressured by the developer to provide a review, I am doing this on my own.

My main goal was to develop an IR Transmitter that looked professional. My second goal was for the transmitter to fit on my iPhone 4 without removing the bumber or using a cable.

The first step was to track down all the pats.  I tried to use 2 IR LEDs from an old TV remote, but they required too much power and the output adequate to trigger the shutter in daylight.  After, picking up the High Output Infrared LEDs (Model: 276-143) at RadioShack for $1.99/ea I got to work.  I already had a headphone plug so I just needed to find something like a project box to house it all.  I could not really find anything I liked then I found an old drug rep paperweight made out of acrylic.  Now, I had everything I needed.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Acrylic Paperweight

Starting with the Acrylic paperweight I cut it in half then into a cube.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Acrylic Paperweight Cut Down
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Acrylic Paperweight Squared

Next, I drilled a hole about 3/4th of the way into the block. Then i tapped the hole to allow the headphone plug to screw into the acrylic.
However, before screwing the headphone plug into the block I cut about 1/4″ off the cube. This will provide me with a cover for my DIY project box.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Drilled - Tapped - Sliced
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Headphone Plug installed

Now it was time to drill 2 holes for the IR LEDs in the larger acrylic cube.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | IR holes drilled

On the back side of the block I now had 3 holes. 2 for the IR LEDs and 1 from the original hole for the headphone plug. I used a Dremel to bore out a cavity for the electronics to live.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | IR holes cavity

This next part was the trickiest part of the entire build. I had to dry fit the IR LEDs and determine the placement of the wiring before I could solder them together.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | IR LED Dry Fit

After careflully bending the post I soldered the 2 IR LEDs together.
NOTE: It is important that you make sure you reverse the polarity so it they are connected from the cathode (-) to anode (+) to cathode (-) to anode (+)
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | IR LED Soldered

This is a look at all the parts used in this build.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Wiring

Just a little bit of wire is required to connect the IR LEDs to the headphone plug. I could have attached the IR LED post directly to the plug, but I wanted to use a bit of wire to give some wiggle room.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | IR LED Soldered Complete

Now that the wiring was complete I felt it was time to test it out before going any further.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Test Fire

SUCCESS!!!
Now it was time for final assembly. I have this amazing glue made for welding plexiglass called Pro Weld from a company called Ambroid. This stuff is great for fusing acrylic and other plastics. I’ve used this stuff since I was a kid making plexiglass enclosures for models.

Using the Pro Weld I fused the 2 halves of acrylic. This stuff works in a about 30 seconds.

After the halves were set I started to shape the cube. Again it was time for the Dremel. I spend about an hour shaping the cube into the final shape.  An hour really, Yes, I did not want to mess it up and cut into the cavity.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Final Shape IR End

I even ground down part of the headphone plug and tapered the underside to allow the transmitter to fit into the iPhone without removing the Apple Bumper Case.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Final Shape Plug end
I did some additional polishing with the Dremel to give it a smooth and somewhat shinny appearance. I could go an extra step flame polish the acrylic for a glass like finish, but I am sure it will get scuffed up in my camera bag when not in use so that is not really important. Besides, I do not want to accidentally hit the IR LEDs with the torch as it would ruin all the work up to this point.

Now for the final test shot.
DSLR.bot DIY IR Transmitter | Finished Product

I did run the DSLR.Bot ($4.99) through the various functions: Single Shot, Long Exposure, Time Lapse and my favorite Bracketing. All functions passed with flying colors with my Nikon D40.

I used the Bracketing function to shoot a 5 shot HDR of an old vacation trinket.  It is not much, but I wanted to bracket something for this post.
Ye Olde Prospector

I  cannot wait to use this app for my HDR work.

UPDATE: Here is my first HDR using the app and the IR transmitter.
Cinderella's Castle

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