Photography & Video
Flash triggers with xBee radios



Our own Matt Mets has a great project up where he makes homebrew camera flash triggers with xBee radios:

A year and a half ago, I started dabbling with using off-camera flash units, in order to exact better control over the lighting in my photographs. Of course, to do this, I had to invest in some equipment. I was able to pick up some used flashes for pretty cheap on Craigslist, however there were only two choices for wireless remote controls for them: Quality but expensive (Pocket Wizards), or cheap and questionable (Cactus triggers). Of course, I went for the cheap ones!

Well, I got what I payed for, and they stopped working after a few weeks. Rather than toss them, I had the bright idea of replacing their guts with some xBee transmitters. This actually worked pretty well, but I didn’t get around to documenting them until now. The idea is really simple- just configure the xBees in direct pin mode, and hook them up to the flash sync ports on the camera and flash. Using these transceivers, I am able to reliably pull 1/120th of a second sync speed (probably fine for studio, but not daylight), with an excellent range (something like 1/8th mile outdoors). Though they work fine, the construction quality is definitely questionable, so I’m kicking around designing new enclosures and having them printed.


Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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