Recently I picked up a Ricoh Theta S 360-degree camera. You can read my experience with the Theta S if you’re curious. It’s pretty cool and Ricoh has been good about supporting it with different ways to use it.

One of the things I picked up for it was the CA-3 Cable Trigger which allows remote triggering of the camera via USB cable. For a few reasons this was a desirable function, and I’m pleased to report the CA-3 works fine. It is, of course, limited to the length of your USB cable, and sometimes you want to get farther away. Like, real far. Like a hundred metres, maybe?

CA-3-mod-1
The CA-3 Trigger

My studio’s already full of Cactus V6 triggers (Which I reviewed here) and I thought maybe I could use the V6 to trigger the CA-3 to trigger the Theta. And so I hacked the CA-3 to take a standard 3.5mm headphone plug, the same as used on the Cactus and many other radio triggers.


Half-press: focus. Full-press: release

This is a simple hack in concept, but it’s pretty dang tricky inside the CA-3. The PCB inside the CA-3 uses the smallest components I’ve ever seen, and soldering to them is probably not for shaky-handed newbs. Also, there’s no useful empty space inside the CA-3, and so I’ve got an ugly socket hanging out of the side. This doesn’t bother me overmuch, but if you want a seamless mod, this ain’t it. ^_^

Under the battery cover there are four screws. I had some trouble removing them, Ricoh puts ’em in pretty securely. Once they’re out, you’ve got three pieces to work with. The whole assembly is very clean and I have some real respect for Ricoh – they know their stuff.

CA-3-mod-2

The CA-3 must have a half-press and a full-press, or it won’t trigger properly. The Theta S doesn’t care, since it has no focus. I didn’t try wiring the two signals together but I suspect it’ll work fine. Here are the appropriate points on the board:

CA-3-mod-4

The button is a little hard to access, because of the larger mounting legs for the USB connector. If you have trouble, you can see the two circuits run down through the 4 USB pins, through two super-tiny capacitors. These aren’t much easier to solder to, but they’re a lot easier to reach, if you have trouble with the button.

Also, watch out when soldering to the button – it’s small! It seems like it’d be very easy to glop too much solder onto the connections and short out against the top of the button, which is grounded.

CA-3-mod-3

And here’s the final result. It’s not pretty, but I couldn’t find any other way to mount a socket in the CA-3 itself. It might be possible to come straight out the bottom, under the ‘CA-3’ text, but i didn’t want to sacrifice the strap loop there.

CA-3-mod-5

And finally, here’s a selfie, using the V6 to fire the Theta, in panorama-vision:

OMG it’s me.

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