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USB Remote w.o. Batteries: starting the book scanner project (pt 1)

The USB Switch (w.o. batteries!)

My remote: notice I mounted my button on the end of a flashlight--nice for holding.

One of the challenges of the book scanner I looked forward to was the making of a USB remote which allows the user to snap pics from two cameras at the same time (important when scanning a book with two cameras!). Daniel Reetz’ original instructions (and most users in the book scanning forums) suggest using certain Canon cameras which, when tweaked with special firmware, are able to snap pictures at the push of a button via the USB port. By far the camera of choice is the Canon a590, a hard-to-find discontinued camera which often was available for as little as $100.

Canon a480

Fortunately, as I started the project, that special firmware tweak became available for the Canon A480, recently available for $89. It’s a 10 megapixel camera and thus capable of snapping high quality shots of text and images.

Making the Remote

First, I needed a USB Hub (which will eventually carry power to two different cameras). I purchased a cheap one with lights (lots of lights!) so that I had a clear sign when the button was pushed…

Cheap and works 🙂

7 Port LED Light High Speed USB Hub – BLUE []

This product comes with a power supply cord (5v DC) and a USB cable. This means I can create my camera remote without need for a battery (which is the common method). Here’s what I did…

The HUB comes with these two cables. Cut and splice, as illustr. below.

Add a 50 cent cell phone charger (from the thrift store) and a momentary switch (button)…

The Button (available at hardware stores and [link left]–I happened to have one on an old joystick that looks just like the one in the image to the right).

Cut and splice the phone charger cord as illustr. (discard both ends)

And the final product…

Full hub control diag

And it works like a charm!

In my case, when I press the USB button, the camera focuses for the shot. A quick release and repress of the bottom cause the camera to take the picture. The exact voltage heading through the hub to the cameras is 4.74 volts. I didn’t tweak this voltage–it’s simply what resulted in my set up.

Next post

For those interested in tech issues of getting the remote to work with the Canon a480, I’ll share the instructions I followed.

8 Responses to USB Remote w.o. Batteries: starting the book scanner project (pt 1)

  1. You state you add a cell phone charger, but I don’t understand where it fits in if you already have the power cord from the hub. Do you need both power supplies, or is this either/or? Thanks for posting all this. Your instructions are just what an electronics newb like me need.

    • Mat, I wanted the cell charger only for its cord–to create a nice coiled wire leading to my hand-held button. You can throw away the two ends of the cell charger–the only power supply I used is the one that came with the USB hub. Does that help?

  2. Bonsoir

    Je suis redevable de votre adresse que j’ai relevĂ©e sur un fichier PDF diy book scanner
    je recherche le fichier numérique pour faire la découpe du scanner .
    Félicitation pour votre télécommande

    Etienne Berthaud

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