SnapPal is the ultimate camera trigger for high speed photography, time lapse, motion control, and water drop photography. It is affordable, high performance and packed with features.
It is designed to be a tool, not simply yet another gadget.
SnapPal is a complete high performance tool. Its ability to control an actuator, such as a valve used in water drop photography, and the ability to control a step motor differentiate SnapPal from other seemingly similar products.
Many current products in the camera trigger category can do time lapse, bulb ramping, bulb HDR, laser, and sound trigger. Some allow you to add your own sensor to a device, and some can do motion control or water drop photography like my last successful Kickstarter project. However, no single product can do all of these functions and different devices must be purchased from different vendors at huge expense.
SnapPal is designed to solve this problem -- it has all of the features a photography hobbyist would want to have and then some. It has the following features:
- Time lapse or intervalometer -- allows you to take pictures at defined intervals.
- Bramping -- bulb mode exposure ramping. When camera is set to bulb mode, you can increase or decrease exposure by varying shutter open time during the course of time lapse. Used often during sunrise or sunset to compensate lighting condition changes.
- Bulb HDR -- when camera is set to bulb mode, amount of exposure can be changed by varying shutter open time. This can be applied to HDR technique.
- Lightning -- there is a built-in sensor to detect lightning. In this mode, there are 31 levels of sensitivity to change of light (not absolute level). When lightning strikes, camera will be triggered to take a picture.
- Light -- the same lighting sensor can be used to detect light changes but with delay inserted between detection of signal and actual camera triggering.
- Sound -- there is also a sound sensor built-in. With this sound module, you have 31 levels of sensitivity and when sound is detected, camera or flash will be triggered.
- External -- you can also add your own sensor and define how your sensor can trigger SnapPal which in turn triggers your camera or flash. In this mode, you can specify how SnapPal can be triggered -- rising edge, falling edge or both.
- Multi Sensor -- you can specify which sensor or combination of sensors can contribute to triggering of SnapPal -- light, sound, external sensors.
- Speed Capture -- with this module you can connect two laser sensors to two external sensor ports and then measure the speed of an object passing through both sensors.
- Water Drop -- in this mode, you can do water drop photography with a single valve. This module can be configured to do water drop photography in either light or dark environment -- yes, you can shoot water drop photography during the day!
- Step Motor -- you can control a step motor with shoot-move-stop fashion. It is designed for motorized slider or rotary unit, or even focus stacking.
Another common complaint with current products on the market is lack of performance. In addition to its numerous features, SnapPal is also designed for performance -- its lightning detection sensor can detect a lighter activating three feet away, even if it is not facing the sensor directly and even in fairly bright ambient lighting. The built-in sound sensor can detect the slightest sound. The SnapPal is sensitive to the CHANGE in the signal being detected, not the absolute level of the signal.
SnapPal contains some innovative technology -- IR remote control, beautiful 1.3 inch 128x64 dot-matrix OLED display for clarity even under direct sunlight, and a 300mah rechargeable Li-Poly battery which can be charged during usage, perfect for long time lapse shoots.
IR Remote Control
Camera triggers, particularly a feature rich product like SnapPal, have a lot of parameters that must be specified during usage. One of the most annoying things would be that you have to physically touch the controller and push buttons on it. Worse yet, if you have nested menus, it means a lot of physical interaction with the controller. Imagine if you have a laser trigger set up with wires tangled up and you have to change the timing parameter!
SnapPal solves this problem by employing an IR remote control. With this remote control, you do not have to touch the controller. And because the remote has 21 buttons, it can eliminate a lot of button pushings. It is like having a keyboard for the controller.
With IR remote control technique, you do not need to use an expensive smartphone to be able to control it, so it is a more affordable option.
There is NO knob to adjust sensitivity with SnapPal, it is all done digitally thanks to a special circuitry used in early prototype designs which has been used by many people all over the world.
Solenoid Valve Control
The ability to control a solenoid valve is one of the key features that other similar products lack. SnapPal solves this problem by using an extension box that allows external power to be switched on and off, thus controlling a valve. The addition of this extension box also facilitates the addition of external sensors.
The ability to control an actuator is the key that differentiates SnapPal from other similar products.
Step Motor Control
SnapPal also has an innovative extension box for step motor control. This feature is crucial for many applications that involve motion control. This extension box allows a bi-polar step motor rated with 1A or less to be connected to and controlled by SnapPal.
Because SnapPal has two external input ports that can be configured to be either rising edge or falling edge or both triggered, it provides many opportunities for extending its use with other sensors such as, but not limited to:
- Proximity sensor such as PIR sensor
- Pressure sensor to detect human or animal presence
- Humidity sensor for weather related camera actions
- Temperature sensor
The list can go on and on for many special conditions. In these cases, the SnapPal acts as camera interface to outside world.
The ability to control an actuator used in water drop photography can also be extended to other areas, not just water drop, for precise timing control, for example but not limited to:
- the valve can control a compressed air source for a DIY blow dart that can be used for balloon popping
- instead of a valve, a steel ball can be attached to an electric magnet and then dropped on a bulb
The step motor module can be used in any shoot-move-shoot scenario
Currently all development in both software and hardware is finalized and a significant amount of resources have already been invested in this effort already, both financially and technically (well, emotionally, too).
All electronics are easily acquired at small enough quantity (100s). Though we have avoided using plastic injection method for the casing because it is extremely expensive and very risky in terms of delays, all cases are made from stock item with custom modification -- drilling holes around case panels. This customization requires a lot of tooling and CNC setup and demands a large enough minimum order to make sense.
Besides electronic procurement, we need a lot of customized plastic cases for SnapPal, aluminum cases for extension boxes (water drop and step motor) just to make sense. All of campaign funds will be used for the first batch.
So emotionally, hopes are high for your support to make it happen.
- Most Canon DSLR cameras
- Most Nikon DSLR cameras
- Pentax K series cameras
- Olympus cameras (please send a message)
- Sony cameras (A7R, A7S, A57, A58, NEX-3NL, NEX6, A65, A77). Please send a message if you do not find your camera model here.
- Panasonic GH series (GH1, GH2, GH3, GH4, etc)
For other cameras not listed above, please send a message.
All shipping will originate from Shenzhen, China via DHL. For locations that DHL could not reach or are designated as "remote area" which DHL charges 30 - 35USD extra, EMS will be used. You can track your package on daily basis for both services.
Reward EBSC -- early bird reward for 79USD. It will come with the following:
- 1x SnapPal controller
- 2x remote controls (in case one is lost)
- 1x sensor extension box
- 1x user specified camera cable
- 1x hotshoe mount adapter
- 1x aluminum bar
- 1x laser senor for external box (so you can turn off laser if connected)
- all necessary cables.
Reward EBWD -- early bird reward with water drop kit for 127USD. Item marked with * will be assembled together when shipping.
- all of Reward EBSC
- 1x 24V 3A power supply
- 1x 24V valve*
- 1x water container bottle*
- 1x 6mm brass nozzle*
- 1x 1/4 NPT straight brass connector*
- 1x right angle bracket for bottle*
- 1x bottle clamp*
- 1x thread sealing tape
Reward EBSM -- early bird reward with step motor kit for 105USD
- all of reward EBSC
- 1x step motor control extension box
Reward EBSMWD -- early bird reward with both water drop kit and step motor box for 150USD.
- all of reward WD (ie, water drop kit)
- 1x step motor control box.
Reward EBSMFS -- early bird reward with step motor extension box and focus stacking rail with 200mm travel distance for 250USD.
- all of EBSM
- focus stacking linear rail with 200mm travel distance. The rail will include rail itself, camera quick release mounting plate, NEMA 17 step motor. The rail uses ballscrew for precision.
Reward NRSC -- normal reward for 99USD, same as reward EBSC
Reward NRWD -- normal reward for 148USD, same as reward EBWD
Reward NRSM -- normal reward for 132USD, same as reward EBSM
Reward NRSMWD -- normal reward for 181USD, same as reward EBSMWD
Reward NRSMFS -- normal reward for 350USD, same as reward EBSMFS.
Photograph by our users:
Risks and challenges
We are a bunch of risk aversion people, so during the development of SnapPal, all components were carefully selected to avoid rarity, All components are easily acquired in Shenzhen, China, as well as Mouser Electronics from US as back up.
Even though the case for SnapPal is plastic, it is NOT from a custom mold, it is customized from a stock item. This means we can avoid risky and expensive plastic injection molding process -- most project that we ever worked on, all delays, over budgets and even failure were due to this process. Not depending on this, risk in this regard is significantly reduced.
Having said that, it does not mean there is no risk. We are very happy with current small batch custom prototypes from case supplier, but this is only small batch. There was some hand tweaking such as the opening for switch was still connected by a thin line of plastic that needed to be trimmed. With large batch order, these small tweaks could mean delays if not found early. But this should be manageable and can be avoided by letting our case supplier assemble a few to take out all potential errors.
Of course, there is always the possibility of shipping delays, such as for mismatch of city and zip code, non-English city names not matching, etc. So be aware of this please.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (41 days)