Homebrewing a beast. (1)
Many years ago, when I got in to lightning photography there wasn’t much, if any resource out there regarding triggering systems.
Well, there wasn’t much of an internet to be honest and whilst there were a few resources, there weren’t what we have at our disposal today. The only one I can remember finding when I looked around back then was a radio based circuit, it was huge and required mashing up lamp mantles to extract a certain element to coat a razor-blade with; that really wasn’t something I’d recommend doing at home, not then, probably not now even with the difference I have in experience.
When I started building my own, it was mainly based on simple switching circuits found in text books in the local library, things based on perhaps a transistor, relay, light receiving element and a variable resistor to tune a bit of the sensitivity. That’s going back some…
Back in the early 2000’s, when places like E-bay were just taking their baby steps, I bought a trigger online; quite costly as well for the time but it was brilliant, yet it was an odd duck as I couldn’t work out how it worked. I became friends with the designer of this thing, and had a few more built and I was happy with them. Then one day, he vanished, and that was it, no triggers in the future; but I’d still got a couple on the desk so I tried reverse engineering one. That started really badly as whilst I could build the circuit in my sleep, I could never quite work out to get it stable as there were a few things in it that could have been generic, could have been specific but for some reason nothing popped (well, a lot things did, but never in a lightning catching sense).
Roll forward half a decade, and now there are paid for units from everywhere, so I settled with using StrikeFinders, and these are great for the cash and I have a pair in my kit bags as they do the things without fuss; but I’d still got that itch to build something myself, something that would complement the StrikeFinder, something that would be more suited to working in the afternoon conditions we get a lot of here in the mountains… And my head kept going back to the earlier, odd ball trigger.