usb camera trigger / usb mouse hack

This is a super easy hack, but I decided to post it because I think that it could benefit a lot of makers out there. Anything that makes documenting your work easier is a good thing in my book

So this could be so much more(-or less) depending on how you use it, but I don’t have a remote for my camera and I wanted one. I always want to set up a camera on a tripod and shoot pics while I am soldering a kit or working on something in my shop. Ideally it would be something that I could use hands-free. I racked my brain for a bit and eventually came up with this solution:

Part 1- Camera connected to laptop via usb

Part 2- Laptop running Nikon Camera Control software

Part 3- Hacked usb mouse connected to footswitch.

I get the camera set up on the tripod, open up the control software and position the mouse over the “take picture” button. Plug in the hacked mouse and click away!

For the mouse I took an old apple optical mouse and gutted it. I wired leads to the button solder pads on it. For an enclosure I used two electrical 2 outlet junction boxes and 6 or 8 feet of electrical cable conduit. (This is that ribbed steel cable wrap you see in wall studs and industrial buildings.) Then connect the two wires from the conduit to the two wires from the mouse switch.

I wired a heavy duty footswitch at one end to the mouse guts at the other end. this needs to be a momentary switch, or else it wont work. A good place to find durable switches is an auto parts store. The horn buttons they sell will work, but most hi/low headlight switches wont work. Be sure to connect the switch to the same two wires from the other end. I ran the usb cord out the side and used a usb extension cord to plug it in to the laptop.

I love the industrial look of it and the list of applications is endless. For a bit more usefulness you could go ahead and buy a keyboard encoder like the i-pac and set the footswitch to any keypress you desire. You could have it run a key combination to run a macro, or an applescript. Maybe the switch is under your desk and hides firefox whenever you notice your boss sneaking up!

UPDATE- I just read last month’s MAKE and there is an ad for the same thing – with windows software to hide your “seekret stuff!”

2 replies on “usb camera trigger / usb mouse hack”

Comments are closed.