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Remote control for a disabled friend

Hi! I have a friend who has a muscle illness and is in a wheelchair. He wants to go into photography but can't hold the camera nor press the small buttons.
I am very experienced in electronics, microcontrollers, motor control etc.
Please help me select a low cost camera that can be remote controlled with zoom, trigger & AF, and preferably additional features. Once we hack the remote control or tap into the camera I can connect it to larger buttons.
I also want to build him a motorized tripod that will be attached to the wheelchair and allow him to raise the camera to the height of a standing person and add a tilt motor.
I will gladly contribute the project to this great website and document it.

Sun, 02 Jan 2011 09:07:08 +0000

I say get a Canon Digital Rebel. They are the most inexpensive DSLR's in the Canon EOS line-up and they have a very simple trigger interface.

Take a look at some of the hacks on this Hacks page. There are some hacks there that shows you how to build a remote control for these cameras.

Chieh Cheng
Sun, 02 Jan 2011 20:29:43 +0000

Thanks for the reply Chieh! It means a lot to me.
I'm afraid a trigger is not enough. Imagine you need to take a photo without zoom, auto focus etc. Not to mention exposure.
Can we interface to these functions of the Rebel? Can you give me a link to the specific hack?

Mon, 03 Jan 2011 15:59:27 +0000

In that case, you might want to consider RemoteCapture for Canon's higher-end point-and-shoot digital cameras. I believe you can control all that via a computer interface. Then it might be a matter of wiring buttons to the computer keyboard. A small netbook tethered to the digital camera might make the entire rig manageable. I haven't used RemoteCapture myself, but I've heard it's quite extensive.

Another possibility, if you know how to write software, is to look into the Software Development Kit (SDK) for various digital cameras. Then you can write a software for a small network and interface to any type of control you can imagine. Look in our SDK forum for some ideas.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 03 Jan 2011 17:20:49 +0000

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