TDC Stereo Vivid
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The A100 Story
After I had been using my A5 twin for about a year, I had
begun to notice a few of its shortcomings:
- the external shutter trigger assembly is very flexible, but exposes wires and
connectors for damage
- the bar I built added enough to the final camera length that it would no
longer fit in any of my belt packs
- when oriented vertically, the mode dial and status LCD were inaccessible
- the external switch I had chosen to use was limiting my minimum
When I saw the Canon A100 being advertised for $150, I took a serious look
and found a terrific twin possibility.
- it was a fixed focal length
- it used compact flash
- it didn't use the same batteries as my A5, but required only two AA
- the top and bottom surfaces were flat and used for nothing but the shutter
button and tripod
- it was put together with screws
- the lens cover was integral and didn't wrap over the top bottom or sides
- the case was only 57mm high
- its newer cousin (the A200) appears to be identical except for its higher
My idea was to build a twin based on a pair of A100s permanently configured
in portrait (vertical) orientation with no external wires or switches.
This would be less flexible than my fully adjustable twin A5, but would be small
and rugged enough to carry in my belt pack. I also hoped that firing both
cameras from one of the camera's original shutter buttons would result in easier
operation and closer shutter synchronization.
My hesitation to using a common shutter button was caused by fear of creating
a voltage potential across the shutter circuits of the two cameras. With
each camera operating from its own battery bank, a voltage difference between
the two cameras was a probability as their batteries discharged with use.
The solution to this was to reverse engineer the entire shutter circuit to see
if this voltage difference would cause a problem, or to strap the two battery
banks in parallel (thereby driving the cameras from a common power
supply). I chose the later course and planned to run two conductors
between the bodies for power, and four for shutter signals. I further
hoped that strapping the two battery banks in parallel would provide a better
current source to the cameras.
So I went shopping and ended up getting a pair of them for $345 from a local
source. My luck held, and I ended up getting a pair of cameras with serial
numbers only three numbers apart. A quick alignment check on the kitchen
counter showed very close CCD alignment and color balance. Four hours
after buying them, I was ready to take a screwdriver to the first one.