Very Remote Camera Control

2013-08-31

 
Remote operations of cameras over very long distances isn't actually something new. Still, it might be of interest for some to learn that this can be done with very ordinary means. Here is what it takes:
  • A standard PC connected to the internet in your home "control-centre"

  • A laptop or notebook with a tethering program installed for camera control. I use PK_Tether for my Pentax cameras

  • A 3-G dongle for connection of your laptop/netbook to the internet "anywhere"

  • A webcam built into or connected to your laptop/netbook.

  • Software for Remote Desktop Control installed on both computers. I use TeamViewer that is freeware for private individuals

 
Download and installation of the TeamViewer software was easy and completely trouble free. I chose to install the full control package on both computers: Thus, I can control my computers both ways and, fortunately, there is no requirements that the operating systems must be identical. Thus, I can use my Dell XP laptop in the "control-room" and my Acer WIN7 notebook in the field.
 
Now start TeamViewer on both computers and set "allow control" on the field computer and "take control" on the control computer and follow the on-screen instructions on establishing computer identity/name and password. In fact, you can set up the field computer to be controllable from anywhere at any time, as long as it is running and connected to the internet!

And that's about it. Now you can comfortably control your distant notebook from your control centre and run any application on it - including tethered shooting!

 

Figure 1. Camera connected to the notebook (running and connected to the internet).
 

A s soon as communication between the two computers has been established,  you can remotely start your webcam and your tethering software on the notebook from your controlling computer.

 
Figure 2. The active windows of the field-computer, here webcam and PK_Tether, as seen on the desktop of the control computer.
 
With the webcam running and pointing in the same direction as your camera, it is now just to sit comfortably in your control-room waiting for the prey to arrive.
 
 
Figure 3. And here comes our target
 
Now quickly maximize the tethering window and push the shutter button:
 

Figure 4. And we got it.

 

 
And if you cannot wait to see the result, TeamViewer also has file transfer amongst its many features.
 
Figure 5. File transfer between Remote and Controlling Computer in progress.
 
Of course, transfer of image files in the 10 MB class may take its time this way. But since desktop control is so complete, you can also manipulate and upload your files by any other means that your installed software allows.

And now, off to the telescope with my netbook and camera.....

 

 

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Copyright 2013 - Steen G. Bruun