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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Click here for many more questions.

  1. Can I trigger my camera's electronic shutter with a photogate or other trigger?

  2. I'm just getting started in high-speed photography. What kinds of triggers do you recommend?

  3. Can I trigger a wireless controller such as a PocketWizard with a HiViz.com circuit?

  4. Can I trigger two or more flash units simultaneously from one output of a trigger circuit?

  5. What is the maximum separation of the emitter and detector of the SPG1 or TPG photogates?  I'd like to have the circuit trigger on birds breaking the beam of the photogate.

  6. My flash doesn't have a PC cord. How do I connect it to the trigger?

  7. How do I get a trigger circuit to discharge a Nikon SB-600 flash?

  8. What's the difference between the various types of photogates?

  9. Is the SK2 sound trigger sensitive enough to capture a water splash with the sound of the splash?

  10. Do HiViz.com circuits output a voltage that can hurt my flash unit or camera?

  11. Can I use the crossed-beam photogate with the Multi-Trigger?
  12. How do I photograph drop-on-drop collisions?
1.  Can I trigger my camera's electronic shutter with a photogate or other trigger?

 

This is a useful thing to be able to do if you're, say, photographing insects, birds, or other unpredictable subjects. You simply can't hold the shutter open waiting for the subject to do its thing. Our triggers and delay unit will trigger either flash units or camera shutters that have electronic shutter cables. If you're doing this yourself, you'll need to cut your remote shutter cable in order to splice it to the trigger or delay unit output. The remote cables usually have 3 wires. Shorting 2 of them together performs the autofocus and exposure operations of the camera. Shorting the 3rd wire to the other two closes the shutter. You would use the output of the trigger or delay unit to perform the latter function.

 

Some cameras have shutter cables designed especially for DIY projects. An example is the Nikon MC-22 remote cord which works with the Nikon D series cameras with the exception of certain models (see below). The cable ends of the MC-22 are blue, black, and yellow. Shorting the blue and black ends together does the autofocusing and exposure operations. Shorting the yellow cable to the other two actuates the shutter.

 

See this link for more information about making your own shutter release cable. If you prefer to work from a kit to prepare an adapter cable, see this link.

 

Cameras with infrared remotes such as the D70/70s aren't well-adapted for use with our triggers. While you might be able to wire a trigger directly to the remote, the shutter lag may be unacceptable for high-speed applications. See this link for a discussion.

 

2. I'm just getting started in high-speed photography. What kinds of triggers do you recommend?

A sound trigger, photogate, and delay unit cover many situations. The variable-width photogate (SPG1) provides for flexible positioning of the emitter and detector. You can also replace the infrared LED with a red laser pointer in order to operate the photogate over large distances. A delay unit is often used with a photogate. If, for example, you want to photograph splashes, you need to delay the discharge of the flash from when the drop passes through the photogate until it reaches the water's surface.

 

When using the sound trigger, delays are usually set according to the distance from the source of the sound to the microphone. Figure a delay of about a thousandth of a second per foot (30 cm) of distance. If you need particularly long delays, then it becomes convenient to use a delay unit. You can use the same delay unit as for the photogate.

 

The delay unit can also be used with a contact trigger. See this page about contact triggers. You would simply connect the two wires from the contact trigger to the input and the ground of the delay unit.

 

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3.  Can I trigger a wireless controller such as a PocketWizard with a HiViz.com circuit?

Definitely. Most wireless controllers are actuated by a simple short circuit. That's the output that HiViz.com circuits provide.

 

4. Can I trigger two or more flash units simultaneously from one output of a trigger circuit?

Yes, this is possible with some flash units. One method is to connect the flash units in parallel across the output. We've used this method with as many as 10 Vivitar 283s. This works best if using all the same make/model of flash. It's not recommended if using different flash units, and it's possible that it won't work for some models. And here's something to be especially careful of. There are two different version of Vivitar 283s; the older version has ~300 V across the flash terminals. Connect one of these in parallel with a neter version that has ~10 V and you could have problems.

 

Another method which gets around the possibilty of one flash's trigger circuit affecting anothers is to use wireless transmitters and receivers, such as PocketWizards. Connect a transmitter to the output of the trigger circuit. Then put receivers on the flashes that you want to discharge simultaneously.

 

A disadvantage of wireless transmitters is that they tend to have a lag of a millisecond more. That may not sound like much, but it makes a big difference for events suchs as balloon bursts. In that case, optical slaves are superior. This light-activated trigger makes a nice slave.

 

5. What is the maximum separation of the emitter and detector of the SPG1 or TPG photogates?  I'd like to have the circuit trigger on birds breaking the beam of the photogate.

With critical alignment and sensitivity adjustment, 12 inches (30 cm) is possible. For larger distances, a red laser pointer can be used in place of the infrared LED. The detector is sensitive to red light as well as infrared. When using a laser, you may need to place a pinhole aperture in front of the laser so that the beam on the emitter isn't too intense.  (This tip comes from Roy Marshall.) Note also that a red spot may appear on the subject so try to arrange things so that the red spot will be on the opposite side of the subject as the camera. Alternatively, you might be able to edit the red spot out of the photograph.

 

One problem with many laser pointers is that the pushbutton is momentary. If you use such a pointer, you need to clamp or tape the button down. Nowadays, it should be easy to find laser flashlights with buttons that don't have to be held down.

 

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6. My flash doesn't have a PC cord. How do I connect it to the trigger?

If your flash unit doesn't have a cord, it must have connections on the foot for triggering it. You can get an adapter shoe that fits on the flash foot and has an output PC cord. These are standard accessories available in camera stores.

 

7. How do I get a trigger circuit to discharge a Nikon SB-600 flash?

First put the SB-600 in manual mode. Then you'll need a way to attach the SB-600 to the trigger circuit output. See the following link for a way to do that.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2007/12/easy-nikon-sb-600-sync-jack-mod.html

Thanks to Tom Denham for the information above.

 

8. What's the difference between the various types of photogates?

The variable-width SPG1 is more flexible than the fixed-width SPG2, because the emitter and detector of the SPG1 can be positioned independently of each other. Objects of various sizes can pass through the SPG1 photogate. The SPG2 uses an interrupter as shown to the right. The emitter and detector are fixed in position in a plastic housing. This is convenient for triggering on drops but is limited to objects that can pass through the gate. You can use either type of photogate with the same base trigger circuit.

 

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9. Is the SK2 sound trigger sensitive enough to capture a water splash with the sound of the splash?

The SK2 is designed to trigger on loud and sharp sounds such as that of a balloon burst, hand clap, or finger snap. In order to capture water splashes, a photogate with delay is the recommended trigger. The drop passes though the photogate and starts the delay timer. After a preset delay, the delay unit triggers the flash unit or camera.

 

10. Do HiViz.com circuits output a voltage that can hurt my flash unit or camera?

When connections are made according to this chart, the output is a short circuit. This can be used to trigger most flash units. When connections are made according to this chart, there is a voltage output a little under 9 V. This can be used to actuate an optoisolator (such as the Opto-Switch) or a flash unit that requires a low-voltage trigger pulse.

 

Cameras should not be connected directly to the low-voltage outputs.

 

11. Can I use the crossed-beam photogate with the Multi-Trigger?

The circuitry for the crossed beam photogate is different from that in the Multi-Trigger. So you couldn't, for example, connect the PVC frame to the photogate input of the Multi-Trigger. You can, however, use the delay unit of the Multi-Trigger with the crossed-beam photogate. To do this, you would connect the SCR output of the crossed-beam photogate circuit to the external input of the Multi-Trigger.


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