Quick update: Readers have reported this working with Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras. An Olympus reader is having issues, I'll keep you guys updated
Since My last blog things have really exploded with people wanting to know more about what I had done. I decided to name this and give it a new version name even though the first one was really an alpha, not even a beta type job. I never intended for the last post to be a how-to or a step-by-step, more of an overview of what I did, and what I came up against in building it. As there have been so many questions for more details, I figured I'd help out and do a full dissection and build, this time in a more proper working configuration (I never intended to keep it hanging out there like that long term, it was more the proof of concept) Also for anyone building this, all risks are yours and your mileage may vary.
So after everyone flooded me with questions I ordered another new set to disassemble from Amazon.
Here's the link where I got it.
A few days later this arrived.
here are the contents, all laid out.
The two problems for making this device portable are the docking station and the power brick that it requires. So to remedy this I built a 4AAA power pack that fed it all the power it needed. To do this can be trivial if you want to keep that docking base as-is. You would simple create your own 5v power source, cut the plug off your brick, and wire it up with the correct polarity. I'd recommend a switch as well, unless you want to literally pull the plug every time you're done.
A better simple DIY way would be this, the Energizer Energi-to-go.
Here a link to what I'm talking about if you want to go this route.
I got mine for dirt cheap on clearance at an office supply store. I actually bought 6 of them as they come with 2 Lithium Energizer AA batteries and an enclosure that holds the two AAs and has a tiny circuit built in that takes 3 volts and ups it to 5-6volts. If I tried to built a 3v - 5v circuit with a battery holder it would cost me more then price I paid for the whole device with the two lithium AAs. They alone usually sell for about $5.
The version I linked to is the nicest one, it comes with 3 different adapters, if you click on the link and look at the second image, you'll see bottom cable looks very similar to the plug on the USB dock.
It is really close to the right size, I simple used an awl and bored the plastic hole out a tiny bit. It now fit the docking station and the polarity is even correct! So if you're not very technically proficient, The Wireless USB adapter set and the Energizer power pack, with the power cord plug widened is all you'll need! No Soldering, and no opening up anything scary!
Its not under $50, but close and you get batteries. The Energizer pack auto senses to turn on and off, so to use it you'll have to unplug it physically when not in use. It does have cool blinking LEDs to let you know when it is in use, that is a plus in my book. It will be a somewhat bulky mess though, so I leave that up to you how well it may or may not work for you.
For those that are more adventurous and want to see whats inside that dock, continue on!
Here is the base being opened up.
The circuit board in itself is very small, and has a simple circuit on it. See the red wire too? Thats the 5th Beatle, I mean 5th wire going to the USB device dongle. It uses this extra wire to inject the additional power needed to transmit the WUSB at 480mbits/sec. Transmitting and receiving data constantly requires more power then the 5volts sitting on the cable, that's why the need for the brick used in the original implementation.
So lets put the dongle on and see how this packages now.
Not so hot looking eh?
All those right angles make for poor packaging if we want this to look thin and cool. Now some people might say, just hard wire the dongle and you're done right? Not exactly. These USB dongles pair by having the host computer pair with the computer when its plugged into the computer. The only way to do that is to unplug it and plug it into the host pc. So if we hard wire we lose that ability hence the need to keep it unpluggable if needed. If only it had 2 right angle USB connectors like the right side one that goes to the device you want to use. So out comes the soldering station and off comes the straight connector.
And here we go, one connector de-soldered and cleaned up. I hate de-soldering connectors BTW.
So I looked around to see if I had any right angle USB connectors, sadly I didn't. I have 400 mini-usb right angle connectors, but I decided against using that as I'd need a mini-usb to mini-usb cable. So back to the drawing board. I decided to keep the project under my $50 total and time constraints and reuse the existing connector. I turned it into a right angle by bending the pins, and adding leads for the grounds back to the large holes. Its also getting glued down to the board for support since I'm not using as it was designed.
After a little tweaking and re-soldering it was good as old, and nearly ready to go.
Here it is after the right angle mod.
And here is a picture of what it looks like next to its new home, a Radio Shack AAA holder Catalog #270-411. Price only $1.99. I'm actually using 2 of these for a total of $4. One will hold 4AAAs and be the power source, the other will be the home for the PeteTether.
I next removed the power switch on the enclosure, the metal tabs for the batteries, and snipped out all the extra plastic to hold the batteries.
Here's what it looks like before I put the holes on the sides for usb cables and the power connector.
I next used a nibbler, it snips little bites of metal or plastic out and is great if you're into building prototypes. So I nibbled out the sides, and also glued down the red wire with gold pin. Thats another gotcha to overcome. The original design is such that when you drop it into the docking station the gold pin touches a gold plate on the USB dongle. That solution won't work here as it could be unreliable, and we can't have that.
So I took a pin used for another connector and installed it onto the dongle. This will allow it to plug in and off the gold pin. Here is what I'm talking about...
I soldered a wire to the existing wire that was on the gold plate. Its fairly short so it will take a little skill to do this. I place some black heat shrink over the pin after it was crimped on there, bad things would happen if it shorted to the ground plate.
Once completed and soldered together with the other Radio Shack AAA pack, it now looks like this!
With both the Batteries and the PeteTether it measures 2.5"x2"x1.25" not including the dongle sticking out (1/2 the 1.25" if you use another power source). I still have a 1/4 nut on the bottom from the first version, but that could come off. I can run off 4 AAAs or if I keep the power switch turned off I can plug in the Energi to go pack to the power plug that is still functional.
I found an old mp3 player case with a nice big clip on it and packaged it into that to test it on my camera strap. Its not intrusive, it just hangs about 6" above where it connects to the camera. Now if you went with PeteTether sans AAA pack and Energi to go power pack you could have two lumps on your straps. I really prefer the AA solution but I don't like the way it packages with the module. The circuit board is bigger then I can put inside that Energizer module, so I'd need two modules. A better way to go is find that perfect project box that has a 2 AA compartment and room for the tethering module hardware. The problem is that it will most likely cost more then $4 and you'll still need the 3-5v upvoltage converter. If you haven't done prototyping before, you'll find that good prototype boxes are rarely inexpensive.
So I met my budget, under $50, but really close, $40 for the adapter, $4 for battery and module holders, and $5 for the right angle adapter for the mini-usb. I highly recommend that as it can breakaway if its stressed and doesn't hang out there sticking out and just begging to be bent or worse, ruin your cameras connector.
Next up in the future, I need to find an MB-D10 so that I can convert the AA holder to house everything inside. Anyone want to send me one? :) I'll send you back working module all enclosed in AA holder. One of these days I'll probably splurge and buy a real one, The genuine MB-D10 is so much nicer then the knockoff ones.