One of the issues I’m trying to solve in my motion controlled photography project is how to trigger the camera. I have already shown a proof of concept with an Arduino, but I found out that what I was doing was “the redneck way” of doing it in the camera world. What I was doing with the Arduino was running power from its battery into the camera. It worked because both systems were using 5V, but isolating the Arduino from the camera is a safer way to do it. Opto-isolators are the tool for the job, they’re small ICs that act as relays, allowing you to use a digital signal as a switch. It has the same function as a transistor, but with more electrical isolation between the input and the output.
I’m not sure why I didn’t find this site sooner, but http://openmoco.org/ is a pretty solid resource that’s right up my alley. Although I’ve already settled on a rough design, the site has some decent tips for people who are looking for a starting point. Also, the fact that some of the “cheap” designs touted on the site run for $500 reinforces my notion that what I doing isn’t actually stupid, but is in fact unique. It won’t be nearly as marketable, but it will definitely be just as usable.