TTL Flash Cord Soup From A Stone

DIY TTL cordNot long ago I posted an article about extending a TTL cord. This hack is kinda nice, especially since concatenating a few SC 28s can get you bankrupted.

Soon after I got a mail from reader Benedikt Seidl saying even buying the original SC 28 is a waste of good money. Actually all the material you’ll need to create a TTL cord is  a stone. OK, a stone and a wiper. Oh you have some guitar string, great. Now usually this will do, but if you have just one little copper board… 

So Benedikt’s site is in German, but he was kind enough to translate the article into English for DIYP readers. Benedikt’s site has lots of cool projects. The bad news is that it’s all German. The good news – the images are usually enough to follow.

I bought a flash that supports TTL. I wanted to have a TTL flash cord, something like the Nikon sc-28, which will enable me to shoot TTL off camera flash. After looking at the prices I changed my mind – 45 Dollars for a wire?? The question I asked myself over the next few days was “how can I build a TTL flash cord on the cheap?”

After a (very) short investigation, I discovered that I need to build three parts:

  • A hot shoe
  • A thingy to attach to the camera hot shoe
  • A cable to connect them both.

To accomplish this task I got some ordinary objects:

  • A wiper
  • A guitar string (G works best)
  • A copper board (the kind you use to create PCBs)
 string  copper board wiper

Building the hotshoe

The hot shoe is easy to build. This is where you’ll use the first weird inventory item – the copper circuit board. The first thing is to cut the copper bods to the correct size. It should fit the hot shoe mount on the top of your camera. Next thing is to copy the location of the connectors. Once you know where the contacts are, you can divide your copper board into different areas and cut away the copper between them (if you are able to, you also can etch it for a better results).

Now, the contacts are in the right place, but the plate does not stick to the flash. Here is what you need: a wiper. Yes a wiper. Now when the rain is out, it is the perfect time to head on to your local Home Depot and get a wiper. Here is the thing, there is a strong steel spring in the wiper. If you don’t have any, you can go to your local car repair shop, but be sure your chosen wiper has a steel spring, and also be sure to take one without any insulation around the steel. You can probably ask the guy for an old one, there is a good chance he has plenty.

hotshoeThe next item is kinda tricky – you need to fold your steel, so it will protect your strobe from falling from the copper board. The best way to do it is by using a bench vise and a pipe wrench. The shape is kinda hard to explain, so look at the image. It takes one or two times to get the right dimensions. A quick tip: The easiest way to cut the still is to fold it one way and then other way. I ruined 2 sawing blades before I figured this out. The last step is to smooth the steel, so you can solder it to the chopper board. It is easier if you put some solder on the steel only, and then solder it to the board. Add some wires. Finished. Now, obviously this rig will not hold a heavy weight, but it is more then enough if all you need is something to connect your flash to as a hot shoe.

Building the Camera thingy

5The part you put on your camera needs more patience to be built. Again, the first step is to figure out where the contacts are. Now you have to drill little holes where the contacts should be (I used a fret saw with a very fine saw blade). After that you take one of your guitar strings (the small ones) and fold it until it is shaped like the figure 5 (see the image). Now you have little springs that can point to your camera. this is just like the small pins the bottom of your flash has. Be sure to place the springs in the right height, If they are in to deep, it would be kinda hard to push though the camera hot shoe.

camera thingey On the side of the board you can see the ground connecter. It is simply a pice of wire. Dont worry, there is a spring in the mount on the camera to make sure there’s a good ground contact. Also add some wires. Finished.

Of course this is not a step by step instruction, but I think it is enough to see how it works, so you can build your own.

TTL cord

on camera

Hey, if you speak gerrman, you can read this article in it’s original language.