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Waterproof USB for underwater cameras


Underwater camera housings work great – but they are prone to humidity, dirt and dust problems if you open them more often than needed. In order to download the images off of his digital camera between dives, [Matt] decided to add a waterproof external USB port to his housing. He had an extra 5 pin strobe bulkhead installed by Ikelite (makers of excellent housings). Then he spliced on a mini-usb cable for the camera and spliced a standard USB end onto a strobe cable. During dives, the port is closed with an o-ring sealed cap.

Comments

  1. YeeGods. Got enough electrical tape up there. Three simple words: heat shrink tubing.

    Other then that this hack is purely practical. Makes you wonder if the company wont start doing this themselves.

  2. adam says:

    this is a genuinely cool hack. might even build for pro-am photog brother. only thing better would be wireless usb.

  3. TravisD says:

    The WiFi thing is actually sort of sorted already — the EyeFi card gives you an SD card with embedded WiFi. I haven’t played with mine in a while to remember if it will “self empty” or not when it connects. Another limitation is that it won’t currently connect to an AdHoc network, so you need to plan to have some sort of real AP for it to connect to.

    I’ve been real tempted, but sadly to real broke to house my D80 for underwater use.

    Wonder if Ikelite can come up with some sort of multi-pin universal bulkhead connector – maybe 6-8 pins, with pre-assembled internal and external pigtails to handle USB, power, etc.

  4. Ken says:

    A neat hack indeed. I don’t know how many dSLR’s offer it, but a camera with built-in WiFi would be perfect for a situation like this.

  5. tz says:

    They might not be good for underwater or at depth, but for outside rain, I use the 4 pin microphone connectors you can get at almost any Radio Shack. Polarized with collar you can use to lock the plug into the socket. Common, inexpensive, and big enough to handle a fair amount of current.

  6. miked says:

    i approve of this hack

  7. Mike says:

    @2: wireless usb? Isn’t that what bluetooth is for? The wheel has already been invented.

  8. threepointone says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve come across a couple of waterproof connectors for USB ports on mouser/digikey. If you don’t have a cheap port available to hack, you could go for those–they actually comply with USB spec (and have the right shape) and probably would allow for faster transfer because of better signal quality

  9. Matt Segal says:

    Hi all –

    I wrote the original article a few years ago, and after some testing, re-wired the setup and posted an update (with photo) on my site: http://www.carbonos.com/reports/usbconnect.htm – it works great now, and the setup is much slimmer.

    The wireless Eyefi, aside from not being available back then, is much, much too slow for large data transfer, and it drains battery power. Memory cards are much, much cheaper (and of higher capacity) now than they were, so it’s not quite as much as issue to require the USB unless you really do wish to grab images after every dive (rather than waiting until the end of the day).

    I’ve since upgraded camera setups, but I may look more thoroughly into taking this conversion a step further – fashioning a longer waterproof cable and tethering it to a laptop or similar for remote triggering. The concept would be more successfully applied to one of the newer models of camera with LiveView (or similar) – you could view the underwater scene without getting wet.

    Thanks for the link, Hack a Day, and for everyone’s comments :-).

  10. Another awesome idea from hack-a-day. Wireless, even if configured is always so slow unless you have wifi. This is something I can do on the cheap. Time to go diving!

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