Help controlling a servo remotely

I am completely new to arduino, and have done a lot of reading about it, however with so many different arduino boards, and clones, and shields, etc, it is a bit confusing, and I'm hoping someone can help point me in the right direction what I would need for this particular project.

I have a nikon p100 camera, which does not have remote control shutter support. So I'm hoping to mount a servo right above the shutter button, that can be controlled by remote control to physically press the button.

I want to be able to program the servo with the right amount of range so that I can press one button on my remote control to press the shutter button half way, and press a second button on my remote control to press the shutter button the rest of the way.

The reason I don't use a standard rc tx/rx to control the servo is because the tx is too big and expensive, I want a very small hand held keyfob type remote to control the shutter.

I already have some extra servos from RC planes that I think would work great, I just need to know which arduino board would be best to use to control the servo, and also what sort of remote control control device would interface well with that board (might have to be rf, since I will likely use it in sunlight, although i'd consider IR also, as long as it would work without problems in sunlight)


How about something like this:

That is a very good idea, I had looked for similar type of remotes/recievers on ebay (although that one looks nicer than the ones I had found).

The only thing is I don't know that it can necessarily control a servo (or can it?). Perhaps it can control a solenoid though, but I don't know if a solenoid would be able to do both a half press and full press (aren't solenoids all or nothing?) Also when I searched for solenoids on ebay I don't find any small rc type ones, they were all big automotive ones (at least all the cheaper $10-$20 ones I was seeing in my search)

why do you want to press the button ha;f way and then again ? i guess you could directly hook up that thing (

to your cam and have it pressthe noraml way (provided you dont mind unscrewing your cam )

Any old Arduino will do. Since your application isn't very demanding, you should probably go with one of the small Arduinos that can run off a lower voltage, like the Lilypad, or 3.3V Pro Mini.

That will greatly simplify putting the system into a small enclosure with batteries.

Looks like the small four button tx/rx could in effect do four button presses on an arduino. The arduino could be configured to have a different servo position for each button press, such as half press, full press, and no press servo positions.

The reason I want to press it half way, then the rest of the way is because like most digital cameras you press it half way and it does all the "thinking" (to put it simply), and then when you press it the rest of the way it fires the shot almost instantly. If you just press the button all in one motion there will be a delay.

The biggest thing I'm trying to find out now is what all components I need, since I have no experience with arduino. Ran Talbott mentioned almost any arduino will do. However is an arduino the practically only piece of hardware I need? Can I plug in (or solder) a cheap ir sensor, and servo onto it, and write a simple program and it will be good to go? Or am I going to have to buy various "shields" such as some sort of servo control shield, and some sort of remote control recieving shield, and stack them all together for this project?

The only thing is I don’t know that it can necessarily control a servo (or can it?).

Sure it can. The receiver has four digital outputs, you probably only need to use two of them. They would wire into arduino input pins and your sketch code would read these inputs and then send the proper servo command out a Arduino output pin using the servo library, either full stroke or half stroke. This would be a very simple program. It would best to use some kind of small minimum size Arduino, either DIY (search for ‘standalone’) or one of the small arduino compatible mini boards. Example:


Or am I going to have to buy various "shields"

Nope: the interfaces to the servo and the receiver will be very simple. The servo can be wired directly. Ditto for a radio or IR receiver, probably: it might require a few resistors, depending on the design, but might require nothing at all.

Worst case would be that you'd need a little $1-2 perfboard from Radio Schlock to hold a few parts.

Shields are only needed for more complex interfaces (like, say, a stepper motor controller), or where you want to be able to easily disconnect the Arduino from one project to use it in another.

Thanks so much for the help so far. I'm getting ready to purchase an arduino, most likely a small one, but I have a couple questions. 1. I've seen some of the small arduinos are 3 volt, but for this application wouldn't I want to make sure to get a 5 volt one since servos run on 5 volts? Its a little confusing, the nano for example says in the specs it has 5 volt operating current, but in the picture it shows a 3.3 volt output? So would I want to steer clear from the nano and get one with a 5 volt output for the servos? 2. As far as the remote, would I be best off purchasing something like what's in the following link, would that be easier? Or would it be just as simple to use some sort of scrap remote I have, like from my car stereo, and just get a little ir sensor from radio shack or something, or would that be more difficult?

  1. Is there any reason I might want to consider an RF remote? Or would that just be more expensive and more complicated?

Servos will generally tolerate anything from about 4V to 7.5V, because they're designed to run off the batteries in RC vehicles. The reason I suggested an 8MHz Arduino is that they'll tolerate voltages over the range of 3.3-5.5V, so you can power the whole project off 3 AA alkalines or 4 AA NiMHs. You might get away with using a 16MHz Arduino in that setup, if you didn't let the batteries disharge too far, but it's safer to use the slower chip. Running a motor off the same supply as the Arduino is generally a bad idea, but you can probably get away with it if you add some extra filtering to the power supply.

You might want to do an RF remote if you'll be setting up the camera in situations where you won't have a clear line of sight, or won't be close enough (consumer IR remotes may get unreliable if you're more than 10 or 15 feet away).

That remote on ebay looks like it might be kinda bulky for your purposes, but that's your call. I have a couple little "credit card" remotes I found surplus a few years ago. If I were doing this project, I'd probably try to make one of those work so I'd have less to carry. They also have only a few buttons, which would be a plus for this application.

If you want to scrounge and re-use a remote, you need to know that they use a few different frequencies to reduce the chance that, e.g., your stereo remote accidentally turns on your TV or ceiling fan. So you'd need to find an IR receiver that works on the same frequency (one advantage of that ebay unit is that it comes with a matching receiver). Goldmine has surplus receivers cheap, so you can buy a few different ones to be fairly sure you'll get a match. Plus they have lots of other cheap goodies for tinkerers. They're one of my favorite mail-order sources.