Flashback: 2-Mile Camera Remote

Photography & Video
Flashback: 2-Mile Camera Remote

We just shipped the newest issue of MAKE, Volume 22, to the printer, and my head is swimming with all things remote control, which is the theme. This got me to thinking about previous remote control projects that have graced the many pages of MAKE. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and maker Tom Rodgers wanted to be able to take more “adventuresome shots than the standard timer or short-range remote would allow” so he came up with a clever hack pairing his digital camera and walkie-talkie to make the 2-Mile Camera Remote. He shared his project with us back in MAKE Volume 15 and we’re sharing it with you here today.

Walkie-talkie actuator lets everyone pose without rushing for a timer.
By Tom Rodgers

A few years ago, I was hiking with a friend along the ridge at Crater Lake in Oregon, and I saw a great spot for us to pose for a picture, on a cliff overlooking the lake. Unfortunately, the perfect place from which to take that picture was 250 yards away, over treacherous terrain. There was no way I could cover that distance in the 10 seconds allotted by my camera’s timer. So I stayed with the camera and sent my friend ahead to pose on the cliff alone. I was right, it was a great shot, but I was sorry we couldn’t both be in it.

This gave me the idea to create a camera remote with enough range to let me take more interesting, adventuresome shots than the standard timer or short-range remote would allow. It occurred to me that a handheld radio could be used as a remote control, enabling me to set up the camera in advance, and then go pose for an “action shot” anywhere in the camera’s field of view. I could then trigger the camera with the radio.



Simple digital camera I used a Digital Concepts 3.1 megapixel camera, about $30, but any similar, simple digital camera should work. It should have a fixed or auto focus and zoom, so that it doesn’t need to be adjusted when it’s first turned on.
Inexpensive FRS radios (2) I used the Kenwood FreeTalk EL, but I’ve tried to write the instructions so you can use any FRS (Family Radio Service band) radio. Cobra makes a nice inexpensive model that runs about $25/pair. You’ll only need to modify one radio to interface with the controller, but you’ll need a second one to trigger it. If you’re careful, you’ll still be able to use the radio for standard communication even after you mod it.
1″ stereo panel-mount audio jacks (2) RadioShack part #274-249
Mini SPST momentary switches (2) One switch is used for the camera’s power and the other for the shutter. I had 2 different ones lying around, but you could use 2 from the same RadioShack 4-pack, #275-1547.
Sheet metal such as aluminum flashing, or 0.016″4″10″ aluminum, Hobbylinc, part #k+s5255, hobbylinc.com
6″×4″×2″ project enclosure RadioShack #270-1806
Mini project board RadioShack #276-148
Stereo plugs with wires (2) cut from dollar-store headphones
BASIC Stamp 1 microcontroller $29, Parallax part #BS1-IC, parallax.com
16-pin SIP socket Parallax #450-01601
9-volt battery connector RadioShack #270-324
DPDT submini toggle switch RadioShack #275-614
SPDT and SPST submini toggle switch (optional) RadioShack #275-613 and #275-612
3-pin header Parallax #451-00303
Compact 5V DC/1A SPST reed relays (2) RadioShack #275-232
2N2222 switching transistor RadioShack #276-1617
10kΩ resistor RadioShack #271-1335
Assorted jumper wires
Adhesive rubber feet
9V battery
Scrap of foam block
for making enclosure mock-up


Wire stripper and wire cutters
X-Acto knife
Small screwdriver
Needlenose pliers
Electrical tape
BASIC Stamp 1 serial adapter
Parallax #27111, $5
Soldering/desoldering tools
Hot glue gun
Serial cable
Parallax #800-00003

Read the full step by step instructions in our Digital Edition. You can also pick up a back issue of MAKE Volume 15, the Music Issue, over in the Maker Shed.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

View more articles by Goli Mohammadi


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