Tethered remote control.

 

This post is a quick guide to how I used an old netbook and my Samsung Chromebook to remote control my Canon EOS 600D.
The netbook (A Packard Bell PVA80) was surplus after my wife bought a “proper” laptop, the battery was bad and Windows 7 starter edition crawled on this machine, I bought a cheap battery (had double the capacity of the old one) and was then on my way, first thing was to format the hard drive and install Xubuntu (a “lightweight” Ubuntu distro) this installed with no problems, all hardware was discovered, next job was to install tethering software, Linux has several programs that can do this, I decided to try one called Entangle which has the advantage that it is fairly lightweight and is really only for tethering, no editing or photomanager included, (wanted to keep it clean and simple), it also has support for almost any DSLR that allows tethering, the final thing to install on the netbook was a VNC server, again there are several of these for Linux, I chose Vino, this server is started from the command line, but there is a GUI for configuration, once set up there is no need to have a GUI running especially on such a lightweight machine. Now we move to the Chromebook, I installed VNC Viewer from Google Chrome store again no problems very easy to set up, once I had the IP address of the netbook it was just a matter of clicking on connect, and then allowing the connection on the netbook (the connection can be password protected if required).
So to simplify.
1. Start netbook.
2. Start Vino-server and then Entangle.
3. Connect USB cable to netbook and camera, turn on camera then click on connect button in Entangle.
4. Start VNC Viewer on Chromebook, input IP address of netbook, click on connect, allow connection on netbook, ready to start using the remote control!

Entangle allows you to see Live view in real-time, also allows you to change settings of your camera, ISO, aperture, white balance, shutter speed etc. when you are ready click on the icon for capture and a shot will be taken, now because you have the netbooks desktop showing on the Chromebook you can do all this without touching the camera or netbook, remotely in my case is within the limits of the home WiFi network, but theoretically you could do this using an ad-hoc network out in the field without a router, or even via the Internet, it is all just a matter of configuration and the tools you use. My idea at the moment is to set the camera and netbook up in our free standing conservatory, with the camera aimed at a birdfeeder in a small tree outside, then sit indoors (in the warm!) and take shots from there, the range is no problem and with live view I can actually see what I am taking a shot of and the result, should add that it is also configurable where the captures are stored, I have chosen to have them stored directly on the Netbooks hard drive.

Note! All the above could just as easily be done on Windows if you have the right software,

If you are wondering, the tripod tray is also a DIY project made of scrap material, somewhat over-engineered perhaps, therefore no description of how it was made, you will find simple DIY versions on the Internet or you can buy ready made, it is not absolutely necessary for this project but it does make the setup more portable and easy to handle and can also double as a macro stand/support/table whatever you like to call it!

Following images show the setup.

DIY tray attached to leg of Manfrotto tripod

DIY tray attached to leg of Manfrotto tripod.

Side by side to show remote viewing taking place, Netbook to the left, Chromebook on the right.

Side by side to show remote viewing taking place, Netbook to the left, Chromebook on the right.

Netbook and Canon EOS600D Liveview tethered using USB and  Entangle software.

Netbook and Canon EOS600D Liveview tethered using USB and Entangle software.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Tethered remote control.

  1. admin Post author

    First of all, the Canon EOS 600D works well when tethered using Entangle, the real-time performance will depend partly upon not only the USB transfer speed but also the speed of the hard disk and the amount of available memory, writing to the tethered PC’s hard drive will also be faster if you turn off the viewing option and only rely on the thumbnail images shown in Entangle, in my application I was using an old netbook, if you use a faster computer with more memory and a faster hard drive write times should be very acceptable, at this point I should add that Entangle allows full control of the 600D (ISO, shutter, aperture etc). I have also found that Darktable can be used for tethering with good results (again speed of writing is partly dependent on hardware).
    The line you show from the manual is correct, but this is because the camera does not support host mode USB, (and as far as I know no other camera does either, but I could be wrong about this!) that is to say that although you can physically connect the camera to an external USB drive its software/firmware does not know what to do with this connection, when connected to a PC the PC is host and has the required software support for file transfer, (and control of the camera).
    From the information I have seen on the internet it would appear that the EOS M does not support tethering, recent firmware updates may have changed this, if so this should be documented on the Canon download site.

    Mike

    Reply
  2. Janez

    Dear Michael Baker,

    I found your article about, while I searched if an Canon 600D is capable to take pictures with Entangle.
    At moment I use Canon 400D with Entangle and it work superb, but it have 10Mp only.
    Please, how is it, in Instruction manual of Canon EOS 600D, I can find as:
    “Even if the camera is connected to a hard disk recorder with a USB cable, movies and still photos cannot be played nor saved.”
    Does Canon 600D work realy good with Entangle, say download jpg’s to disk in same time to make photos (1/sec)?
    How is with the same operation with Canon EOS M and Entangle?

    Thank you.

    Best regards,
    Janez Stefanec

    Reply

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