Triggertrap V1 User Manual

So, you've just taken delivery of your shiny new Triggertrap V1, and you're ready to start using it? Great! It's not very hard to use, so if you're anything like me, you're probably happy to just get stuck in and use it without reading the user manual. In fact, I encourage it!

However, because the Triggertrap has a lot of functionality built in and because we didn't have Jonathan Ive available to help us create a perfect user interface, we realise that some of the features may not be completely, 100% obvious. If you get stuck on anything, this should help you along!

PDF VERSION

If you'd like a PDF version of this manual, you're in luck, we have one for you here:

TriggertrapManual.pdf (PDF - 12mb download)

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Table of Contents

  1. A quick tour of the Triggertrap
  2. Setting up the Triggertrap for first-time use
  3. Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera
  4. Testing your Triggertrap
  5. Using the Laser mode
  6. Using the Ambient Light mode
  7. Using the Sound mode
  8. Using the Timelapse mode
  9. Using the Auxiliary mode
  10. Troubleshooting camera triggering

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A quick tour of the Triggertrap

It's useful if you know where all the controls and sensors are on the Triggertrap, so if you're not sure, it may be useful to take a quick look at this introduction video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkUt0rxI41c

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Setting up the Triggertrap for first-time use

It's not hard to set up the Triggertrap for use the first time.

First, let's insert some batteries:

 Step 1: Grab your Triggertrap

Step 2: Use the screw driver to remove the 4 screws and the top casing comes off easily.

Step 3: Carefully remove the touch-sensitive buttons by pulling the top PCB directly toward you, straight up. Be careful not to bend any of the pins connecting the bottom and top PCBs.

Step 4: Place the two outside batteries in the battery compartment first.

Step 5: ... Then add the third battery in the middle.

Step 6: Add the top touch screen board back onto the Triggertrap. Be careful not to bend any of the pins, and ensure that all the pins align with the sockets!

Step 7: Finally, place the top casing back on the Triggertrap, and replace the screws.

Of course, you can use the Triggertrap without batteries, too, but then you'd have to use USB power.

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Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera

The Triggertrap has three 'signals' that it can send to your camera (IR, Focus, and Shutter), and you can turn each of these on and off individually.

Infra-Red camera control

If your camera is supported via IR on the Triggertrap, you don't need to use a cable running between the Triggertrap and the Camera: It will send the signals via IR to your camera; just make sure that the top of the Triggertrap is pointing towards the IR window on your camera, and that your camera is set to receive IR remote signals. Check your camera manual to find out how to turn this functionality on.

To use IR control from your Triggertrap, you have to turn it on in the 'system' menu on your Triggertrap:

  1. Press 'mode' several times. Stop when the top line of the display reads "System"
  2. Press 'option' several times. Stop when the bottom line of the display reads 'IRremote'
  3. Press the 'up' arrow once. This will show the current status of the Infra Red transmitter on the Triggertrap (Off or On)
  4. To change the setting, press 'up'. If you want to use IR to control your camera, this needs to read 'on'.

Important note

All the Triggertrap IR signals are sent sequentially. This can take up to a second, which means that your camera will have a slight delay before triggering. If you want to use the Triggertrap for high-speed photography, consider using a wired remote instead.

It is also worth noting that whilst the Triggertrap is sending its IR signals, it cannot trigger the camera using the wired remote as well. This means that if the Triggertrap is 'busy' sending IR signals, it won't trigger your camera a second time, if there is a second trigger event. If you are using the Triggertrap as a wired remote, and you want your Triggertrap to react faster, turn off IR in the System menu (see above).

Wired Remotes

If you want to use a wired remote, you'll need a cable. Because there are so many different possible camera connectors, these are not included with the Triggertrap. You can order many of the cables from the Triggertrap Shop, or you can make your own cables. Finally, if you already have a wired remote control for your camera, you can adapt it to work with the Triggertrap.

To use the wired remote, you have to turn it on in the 'system' menu on your Triggertrap:

  1. Press 'mode' several times. Stop when the top line of the display reads "System"
  2. Press 'option' several times. Stop when the bottom line of the display reads 'Shutter'
  3. Press the 'up' arrow once. This will show the current status of the Shutter control on the Triggertrap (Off or On)
  4. To change the setting, press 'up'. If you want to use your camera with a wired trigger, this needs to read 'on'.

Finally, you can choose whether or not you want your camera to focus before taking a shot. In general, if possible, it's a better idea to use manual focus; you don't want to take the risk of your camera failing to focus when you're not there to check your photographs right away.

To focus your camera before taking a photo, you have to turn focusing on in the 'system' menu:

  1. Press 'mode' several times. Stop when the top line of the display reads "System"
  2. Press 'option' several times. Stop when the bottom line of the display reads 'Focus'
  3. Press the 'up' arrow once. This will show the current status of the Focus control on the Triggertrap (Off or On)
  4. To change the setting, press 'up'. If you want your camera to focus before taking a photo, this needs to read 'on'.

Important note

When If you have 'focus' turned on, the Triggertrap will send a 'focus' signal to your camera for 500ms (that's half a second) before triggering the shutter. This means that there will be a 1/2 second delay between your Triggertrap registering an event, and your camera being triggered. If you don't want this delay, turn 'focus' off, and use manual focusing instead.

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Testing your Triggertrap

Right, now that we are all connected up, it's time to make sure the Triggertrap actually triggers your camera.We'll do that with a Timelapse session: Timelapse will always work correctly, because it does not rely on any sensors.

  1. Press 'mode' several times. Stop when the top line of the display reads "TimeLaps"
  2. Press 'option' several times. Stop when the bottom line of the display reads 'interval'
  3. Press the 'up' arrow once. This will show the current interval setting.
  4. To change the setting, press the 'up' or 'down' arrows. For our test, let's set it to a 10-second interval. Press 'up' or 'down' until the display reads "0:10".
  5. Press 'option' until the bottom line of the display reads "delay1st"
  6. Press 'up', and verify that this setting reads "off". If it doesn't, press 'up' or 'down' until it does.
  7. Press 'option' until the bottom line of the display reads '#shots'.
  8. Press 'up' to verify what it says here. It should show the infinity symbol. If it doesn't, press 'up' or 'down' until it does.

Right. We're ready to go! Press the 'start' button. If you are connected to USB power, you'll see the timer count down to zero before taking a photo. If you are using battery power, the screen will go blank (this is power-saving mode).

10 seconds after you pressed 'start', the LED to the right of the display will go on. When it is on, the Triggertrap is attempting to trigger your camera. If everything is working correctly, when the LED goes on, your camera should take a photo.

If you can't get your camera to take a photo, see "Troubleshooting Camera Triggering" at the end of this user manual.

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Using the Laser mode

The Laser sensor is shielded from ambient light with a round piece of plastic. It is at the top of the Triggertrap, next to the IR transmitter. The laser beam needs to point straight into this sensor to work properly.

To use the laser mode on the Triggertrap, you need a laser light. Any laser will do - we have done most of our testing with an El Cheapo Du Bargain $5 laser pointer with a bit of gaffer tape holding the laser button down. You can use laser pointers, laser modules, etc. The color of the laser pointer is not important; you can use blue, red, or even an Infra-Red laser, if you want. The latter is tricky to get aligned properly (it's invisible to the naked eye, so be very careful you don't burn your retina with it!), but has the benefit of being invisible, of course.

Got that? Good, let's begin.

  1. First, make sure that the system settings are set up to work with your camera (see Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera, above)
  2. Press Mode several times, until the top line of the display reads 'Laser'
  3. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'type'
  4. Press 'up' or 'down' to select the type of trigger you want to use
    • On Make - this triggers whenever the Triggertrap detects a laser beam hitting the Laser sensor. You can use this as an uber-long-range camera remote, for example - several hundred meters, in fact, if you have a powerful enough, carefully aligned laser.
    • On Break - this triggers whenever the Triggertrap detects a laser beam being broken. This is the typical use for a laser sensor: The laser beam shines across a room, for example, and whenever it gets interrupted, the Triggertrap triggers
    • On Chnge - "on Change" triggers on both of the above; both on make and on break.
  5. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'delay'
  6. Press 'up' or 'down' to choose the delay you want between the Triggertrap detecting a trigger event - you can choose anything from zero delay ('delay off') to 10 seconds, in 1 millisecond increments.
  7. Press the 'start' button to start the programme. If you are connected to USB power, it will show either '0' or '1'; Zero means 'no laser detected'. If you are using battery power, the screen will go blank; this is the power saving mode, but the programme will still be running.
  8. To stop the Laser sensor operating, press 'start 'again. This will take you back to the menu to change your laser settings.

Note: There is no sensitivity setting on the Laser mode.

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Using the Ambient Light mode

The Ambient Light sensor is on the right side of the Triggertrap, between the small round microphone and the black, square battery compartment. The light sensor is relatively sensitive, but if you are trying to take ambient light measurements from dim light sources, try to aim the side of the Triggertrap towards the light source. We've found that placing the trigger on its left side works very well!

Got that? Good, let's begin.

  1. First, make sure that the system settings are set up to work with your camera (see Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera, above)
  2. Press Mode several times, until the top line of the display reads 'Light'
  3. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'threshld'. That's Triggertrap-speak for Threshold.
  4. Press 'up' or 'down' to see the current threshold set (the left figure), and the current ambient light reading (the right figure). The numbers range from 0 to 255.
  5. Press 'up' or 'down' to adjust the threshold trigger.
  6. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'type'
  7. Press 'up' or 'down' to select the type of trigger you want to use
    • On Rise - this triggers whenever the Triggertrap detects light levels rising above the threshold you have selected.
    • On Fall - this triggers whenever the Triggertrap detects light levels falling below the threshold you selected.
    • On Chnge - "on Change" triggers on both of the above.
  8. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'delay'
  9. Press 'up' or 'down' to choose the delay you want between the Triggertrap detecting a trigger event - you can choose anything from zero delay ('delay off') to 10 seconds, in 1 millisecond increments.
  10. Press the 'start' button to start the programme. If you are connected to USB power, it will show the current light level, on a scale from 0 to 255. If you are using battery power, the screen will go blank; this is the power saving mode, but the programme will still be running.
  11. To stop the sensor operating, press 'start 'again. This will take you back to the menu to change your settings.

Note: The Light sensor is incredibly fast, which means it's not a huge fan of non-steady lighting. If you are trying to take a treshold measuring in a room that uses lights that flicker (such as fluorescent lighting), you might have some unexpected results. In testing, we have experienced that the Triggertrap would trigger constantly; this is because the light level in the room is, in effect, flickering on and off at the same speed as the natural grid (typically 50 or 60hz). Unfortunately, there's not a lot we can do about that - sorry!

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Using the Sound mode

The Sound sensor is on the right side of the Triggertrap, next to the ambient light sensor. Even though the microphone is inside the acrylic casing, it is sensitive to pick up sounds easily enough - but if you are trying to catch extra low-volume sounds, try pointing the open-ended bottom of the Triggertrap towards the sound source.

Got that? Good, let's begin.

  1. First, make sure that the system settings are set up to work with your camera (see Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera, above)
  2. Press Mode several times, until the top line of the display reads 'Sound'
  3. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'threshld'. That's Triggertrap-speak for Threshold.
  4. Press 'up' or 'down' to see the current threshold set (the left set of numbers), and the current sound measurement (the right set of numbers).
  5. Press 'up' or 'down' to adjust the threshold trigger.
  6. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'delay'
  7. Press 'up' or 'down' to choose the delay you want between the Triggertrap detecting a trigger event - you can choose anything from zero delay ('delay off') to 10 seconds, in 1 millisecond increments.
  8. Press the 'start' button to start the programme. If you are connected to USB power, it will show the current sound level, on a scale from 0 to 255. If you are using battery power, the screen will go blank; this is the power saving mode, but the programme will still be running.
  9. To stop the sensor operating, press 'start 'again. This will take you back to the menu to change your settings.

Note: The Sound trigger is always 'on rise' - so it'll trigger the camera when it measures a sound that's louder than the treshold level. ↑ Back to top

Using the Timelapse mode

The Time Lapse mode does not use a sensor; instead, it uses an internal clock built into the Triggertrap to trigger the camera at pre-set intervals.

  1. First, make sure that the system settings are set up to work with your camera (see Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera, above)
  2. Press Mode several times, until the top line of the display reads 'TimeLaps'
  3. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'interval'.
  4. Press 'up' or 'down' to see the current interval set.
  5. Press 'up' or 'down' to adjust the interval between shots. This is adjustable from 1 second to 900 minutes (That's 15 hours).
  6. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads 'delay1st'
  7. Press 'up' or 'down' to choose the delay you want before the first photo is taken. If you choose 'off', it will take a photo as soon as you press 'start'. If you choose a delay, the Triggertrap will count down to this delay before starting the intervals. This is useful if you want to take a timelapse of a sunrise, for example, without letting the camera take photos all the way through the night.
  8. Press Option until the bottom line of the display reads '#shots'.
  9. Press 'up' or 'down' to see the number of photos you want the Triggertrap to take.
  10. Press 'up' or 'down' to adjust the number of shots you want to take. This is adjustable from 1 to 50,000. If you go down one from 1, your Triggertrap will show the 'infinity' symbol. When set to 'infinity', it will take photos until your Triggertrap's batteries run out, your camera's batteries run out, you run out of space on your memory card, or until the world ends - whatever comes first.
  11. Press the 'start' button to start the programme. If you are connected to USB power, it will start counting down until the next shot. If you are using battery power, the screen will go blank; this is the power saving mode, but the programme will still be running.
  12. To stop the Timelapse operation, press 'start 'again. This will take you back to the menu to change your settings.

Note: The Timelapse feature is not 100% perfect when it comes to timing; due to various design factors, there may be a 1-2% leeway on when the photos are taken, depending on temperature, how much juice is left in the batteries, the humidity in the air, and the amount of coffee your Triggertrap had for breakfast that morning. To put that into perspective, if you are using 5 minute intervals, the Triggertrap could take the photo up to 6 seconds later or earlier for each exposure. On the bright side, this variation is pretty stable, so it won't make your timelapse look 'jerky' or uneven. In our testing, the biggest deviation we found was about 0.8% (or a 2.5-second deviation on a 5-minute timelapse cycle).

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Using the Auxiliary mode

The Aux mode does not use a built-in sensor; it uses whatever you plug into the Aux port on your Triggertrap.

Much like the settings you found in the 'ambient light' mode, you can select:

  • Delay (from 0 to 9.999 ms)
  • Type (On Rise, On Fall, On Change)
  • Threshold (from 0 to 255)

Because the Aux mode can be used for so many different things, we're not going to cover it in great detail here, beyond mentioning a couple of things you need to know to make your own sensors and circuits:

  • The Aux port is powered. This means that it reads "255" when there is no connection between the sleeve and the tip. When the two are shorted, it reads "0". You can use this to create simple touch sensors, pressure sensors, external sound- and light- sensors, tilt sensors, temperature sensors, pressure sensors, passive IR motion sensors, thermocouplers, and all sorts of other awesomeness.
  • The ADC (Analogue to Digital converter) on the MCU uses the standard 1.1v internal reference - any voltage received on the Aux port over 1.1v will read as '255'. In other words: If you create external sensors, drop the voltage down to a range from 0 to 1.1 volt to get Triggertrap readings that make any sense. This is pretty easy; use a resistive divider.
  • The Aux input is relatively well protected: input protection starts with a 5k resistor to keep the current down, and is then protected by dual diodes, one to vcc and one to ground, such that any over voltage will bleed off. To prevent the protection circuit from kicking in, it's best to keep the Aux voltage under a maximum of 3v.

WARNING: The Aux port is the most 'dangerous' part of the Triggertrap. If you don't know what you're doing, you risk damaging your Triggertrap. We've done what we can to protect your camera: the Triggertrap is not electrically connected to the camera. Instead, it is shielded using an optocoupler. In theory, even if you do something unmentionably stupid (like plugging a lightning rod directly into the Aux port), your camera has a fighting chance to not explode in a rain of fire and death. No warranties, though, so be careful, both for your own health and safety, and for that of your camera and the Triggertrap. Remember: Every time you fry a Triggertrap, god kills a kitten.

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Troubleshooting camera triggering

Camera triggering normally just works, but there are lots of little things that can get in the way of your camera 'speaking' to the Triggertrap correctly.

If your camera fails to take a photo when using a wired trigger...

  • Is the LED light on your Triggertrap going on? If it isn't, the Triggertrap is not trying to trigger your camera, and it obviously wouldn't work - double-check the settings for the sensor & settings you are using.
  • Is your camera supported? Please double-check that your camera is supported. Some cameras that have ports for remote controls don't actually support remote controls (Olympus, I'm looking at you - but this may be the case for other manufacturers, too).
  • Test your camera - Take a photo the 'usual' way, and see if your camera operates as usual. Check your camera's batteries, that your lens is attached properly, that you have a memory card inserted in your camera, and that there's space for photos on your memory card.
  • Is the cable firmly plugged into your Triggertrap? Since the Triggertrap sockets will be brand new, they may be a little stiff - carefully, but firmly, insert the 3.5mm plug all the way into the Triggertrap.
  • Have you remembered to turn on 'Trigger' in the system menu on your Triggertrap? See above, under "Setting up the Triggertrap for use with your camera - Wired Remotes"
  • Is the cable correctly and firmly plugged into your camera? Some cameras have weird sockets where it is possible to plug the plug in upside-down (Nikon, this one's you...). If it isn't working, unplug, and double-check that you've plugged it in correctly.
  • Is your camera set to remote control mode? On some cameras, you have to change a camera setting to make the camera 'listen' for the remote control signal. Check your camera manual to find out if this applies to you.
  • Does your camera's remote socket work? If you have a separate wired remote, try plugging it into your camera and taking a photo. On some cameras, the remote socket doesn't work due to corrosion or bad wiring.
  • Test the camera remote manually - Unplug the cable from the Triggertrap, leaving it plugged in to your camera. Short the three metal bits on the 3.5mm socket with a paperclip, a piece of wire, or anything else made of metal. When you do this, your camera should take a photo. If it doesn't, it could be that there's something odd going on with your camera's handling
  • Try setting the camera to Manual exposure - don't worry about over / under-exposing for now. We just want to see the camera taking a photo.
  • Try setting your camera/lens to manual focus - Just to eliminate the option where your camera is refusing to take a photo because it can't focus.
  • Have you checked whether your camera has a memory card in it? Some cameras refuse to take a photo without a memory card...
  • Still not working? Send us an e-mailwith the following:
    • The type of camera you are using
    • The type of cable you are using
    • The camera mode you are using

For IR remotes

  • Is the LED light on your Triggertrap going on? If it isn't, the Triggertrap is not trying to trigger your camera, and it obviously wouldn't work - double-check the settings for the sensor & settings you are using.
  • Is your camera supported? Please double-check that your camera is supported. Some cameras that have ports for remote controls don't actually support remote controls (Olympus, I'm looking at you - but this may be the case for other manufacturers, too).
  • Test your camera - Take a photo the 'usual' way, and see if your camera operates as usual. Check your camera's batteries, that your lens is attached properly, that you have a memory card inserted in your camera, and that there's space for photos on your memory card
  • Is your camera set to remote control mode? On some cameras, you have to change a camera setting to make the camera 'listen' for the remote control signal. Check your camera manual to find out if this applies to you.
  • Does your camera's remote mode work? If you have a separate IR remote, try using it to trigger your camera. If that doesn't work either, it may be something to do with your camera...
  • Try setting the camera to Manual exposure - don't worry about over / under-exposing for now. We just want to see the camera taking a photo.
  • Try setting your camera/lens to manual focus - Just to eliminate the option where your camera is refusing to take a photo because it can't focus.
  • Still not working? Send us an e-mailwith the following:
    • The type of camera you are using
    • The camera mode you are using