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Tutorial: Want a Dirt Cheap Wireless Monitor? A $30 Hacked TP-Link MR3040 Router Will Help

TP Link TL MR3040If you’re unwilling to shell out a fistful of hundred-dollar bills for a wireless monitor, you might want to get your hands on a TP-Link TL-MR3040 wireless router. By installing alternate firmware on this little guy, you can turn it into a Wi-Fi dongle that you can then connect to your Canon or Nikon camera to turn your Android phone or tablet into a wireless monitor/controller for only $30. Check out the following tutorials to get step-by-step instructions on how to turn your Android device into a wireless monitor/controller.


Wireless monitors are not cheap; they can run from $300 to upwards of about $6,000. So, having an inexpensive monitoring solution is pivotal for indie filmmakers. And the key item to pulling of this DIY monitor, the MR3040, is inexpensive at around $35 to $50, depending on where you shop.

So, how exactly does this work? Essentially, you’re going to use the MR3040 to connect to your DSLR through the free Android app DSLRDashboard. The pieces you’re going to need are: an MR3040 wireless router (naturally), a Canon or Nikon DSLR camera, a USB to mini-USB cable, the DSLRDashboard app, and an Android device — either a phone or tablet (both tutorials use the Nexus 7). Granted, if you have to go out and buy a phone or tablet to build this monitor, it’s not going to be so “dirt cheap”, but if you’ve got one lying around, you can set it up for next to nothing.

DSLR Film Noob teaches us the basics in this tutorial. (If you prefer to read the instructions, you can find the installation guide here.)

This tutorial from YouTube user zawzero walks us through everything step-by-step, from what materials you’ll need, to how exactly to download the firmware onto the MR3040. Another great thing about the tutorial is that it tells us what to look out for so as to avoid destroying the wireless router — so, be sure to listen carefully and pay close attention. You don’t want to break your MR3040 before you get to use it.

According to DSLR Film Noob, the average battery life lasts for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and max range is about 35 to 40 feet.

Have you tried this before? Are there other easier/cheaper ways to go about it? Let us know in the comments below.

Links:

[via DSLR Film Noob, zawzero, & Filmmaker IQ]

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  • Good Evening,
    I am curious if anyone had experience doing this through apple products (IPhone/MBP) that would be comparably inexpensive? I am also using a Sony camera product rather than Canon/Nikon, but one thing at a time I guess.

  • Best fucking cheap idea ever

  • another wonder for the ios platform, the gopro app seems to wotk along a similar principle…

  • Would this work with a Panasonic GH3 ?

    • GH3 already had a Lumix app. Have you tried? I know you can’t stop video recording but probably that is a good thing as the Panasonic rep told me once recording starts they do not want any communication so there are no dropped frames.

  • Will you need internet when shooting?

    • No, the router will set up a local network that your android phone or tablet can connect to (it kinda works like the GoPro WLAN module, which creates a WLAN network you can connect to and then use the specific app to control the camera.)

      • Exactly what the Sony QX series camera does too with the Play Memories app for Android / iOS.

  • Really nice, the problem I think with this system is a signal delay, maybe 3 to 5 seconds delay, this is will be a problem, at least for me..

    • Damn! i forgot to whisper but DAMN! this info couldnt come at a better time been thinking about Aputure’s Wireless monitor for cheap system but this seems really handy and im guessing there’s scope to do multi angles / cameras… oh possibilities maybe hook up a modified RC object or 2, canon-m cameras… nice to finally take a stab at Teradek :P on the cheap side

    • ps didn’t mean to reply to this particular comment :P

    • I’ve tested this myself and in reality it’s only around 1/2 – 1 second delay. Nothing like as bad as the GoPro one which has a delay of ~5 seconds. Plus you get something like 20fps.

  • I put this together and have now used it 4 times.
    A couple things:
    1) DSLR Controller app is fantastic. Won’t work shooting Canon RAW though. But for H.264 its a godsend if you are shooting 1 man band interviews. Autofocus by touch (with Canon lenses), histograms, start-stop record. Brilliant. I have a Nexus 5.
    2) the wireless part of it is only ok, and I’d only recommend it for short-term use (i.e crane, jib, emergency monitoring). I got barely 10-12fps out of it, with a long delay of @2-4 seconds. Still, its cheap!

    • I have the Nexus 7 and use it wired to DSLR controller but the app crashes every time I move around with the tablet, after that it mostly won’t find the camera and needs to be rebooted (sometimes several times) anyone with similar problems?

    • just wondering… why exactly won’t it work with raw? if you set the shutter button to record video (on the canon menu) it should work just fine… I’ve been using a cheap photography remote controller to start / stop raw recording when I have my camera on a small jib arm and it works just fine (at least on a Canon camera that is)

  • Interesting… this looks exactly like a CamRanger… so much so that I think the CamRanger is basically this with a different badge! I don’t suppose if anyone can check if the free iOS CamRanger app works with this setup…?

    (I’m going to bet no, but the router + nexus 7 is still cheaper than the $400 CamRanger system)

    • exactly what I was thinking… probably cam ranger has it’s own firmware for the router but, since I have one of those routers I will try and will post my results.

    • Affirmative – Camranger’s dongle is a rebadged MR-3040, Their app and wireless connection does seem very stable however (anecdotally).

      I have my D7000 connected wirelessly to DSLR Dashboard on a Nexus 7 via an MR3040. Haven’t tried video yet apart form confirming that I can start recording. Have had dropouts shooting stills but haven’t used this system long enough that I can ID causal situations. Can confirm tap screen to focus with my Nikon.

      BUT DSLR Dashboard has a swath of cool displays such as focus peaking and a bunch of other focusing aids. Also live view histograms, both separate RGB as well as combo.

  • I’ve got the Nexus 7 with the Canon 6d, and while it works, the DSLR Controller app does crash a lot, 5 out of 10 doesn’t recognize the camera and the tablet have to rebooted when I switch of the camera.
    Besides that, the new DSLRnoob idea is pretty handy!

  • does it work with GH2? Or do you know any solution to connect GH2 to a tablet or a phone via HDMI or Wireless?

  • Cam ranger is the modified version of this. Cam ranger is compatible with iOS but it’s expensive. Dslr controller customer service is the worst, they do not respond and blame you most of the time for getting a tablet that won’t work with their software lol btw it doesn’t work with android 4.2.2

    Overall, this little hack works wonder. A friend saw it at my place and insisted me selling it to him lol so now he got mine and I use the nyrius hdmi wireless instead.

    • Hi Johnny Wu. Could you explain more about using the “nyrius hdmi wireless” I have not hear of this and only found around a 249 Price solution. How/Why would this be better?

  • THANKS!!

  • It is confirmed from TP-Link that the CamRanger is infact a TP-LINK MR3040 with custom firmware. You can find more info on it here: http://www.dslrfilmnoob.com/2013/12/13/camranger-tp-link-tl-mr304/

  • Here is a German tutorial from last August that shows that and how it works with a Nikon camera: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4ze3Nx8vOM#t=154
    for in depth details see also: http://gwegner.de/know-how/camera-wlan-mit-dslrdashboard/

  • this is amazing news… I’v been looking fwd to something like this for a long time! now it would be great to have an app designed from the ground up to take advantage of the ipad/tablet as a video monitoring/video assist solution. here are some features that I think most of us would find really helpful:

    - record preview versions (it could be low res) of the clips straight to the device (this would help a lot when working with cameras that don’t allow for playback directly from the camera such as the Digital Bolex or the 5Dmkiii raw module.
    - metadata entry (or at least a way to flag clips)
    - overlays (4:3/16:9/2.35:1/etc…)
    - control playback from the camera (it would turn an ipad to a “video assist”)

  • I used the MR3040 with my 5D3 and 60D over the weekend. DSLRController works great with my Note 3. I was looking at the CamRanger for a while, sure glad that I held off getting it.

  • How’s the delay on this? Is this pretty much unusable for a director monitor?

  • I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Weye-Feye on this thread. http://www.weye-feye.com/weye-feye/

    Boasts 0.2s delay times and 8 hour battery. £200 though, still better than Camranger.

  • Has anyone tried this with the BMCC or BMPCC?
    Thanks

    • Won´t work om BMPCC, doesn’t have a USB. And i don’t know where to find hdmi to usb converter.

      • Unfortunately HDMI and USB work on different protocols, you’ll never find a HDMI to USB cable. HDMI carry display out or in signals for LCD displays with no processing prowess whereas USB is a data transfer medium.

      • BTW, the BMPCC has a miniUSB port, it is located in the battery/SD compartment.

  • Does it work with still photos as well?

  • Very Misleading Title

  • Tried this with my 5D mark3 and a cheap (50$) single core tablet. I got a severe delay which makes it unusable for filming with shallow deep. Will try with a higher performance tablet an see if it helps.

  • Tried again with my Galaxy3 Phone, Delay much less. To get this working you need a dual core tablet at minimum.

  • But will this work with new Magic Lantern Raw? ;)

  • LRTimelapse also has a nice article on this:
    http://lrtimelapse.com/gear/dslrdashboard/
    and some good tips for making timelapses with Lightroom…

  • JP Belanger on 01.26.14 @ 10:27AM

    Since the CamRanger firmware is downloadable for free on their website, is there any way to install it on a TL-MR3040 using openWRT?

  • Barry Gregg on 02.5.14 @ 12:20PM

    I have run the firmware upgrade on the TP-Link 3040. With the new IP address for OpenWrt I am unable to enter a password on the “Authorization Required” opening screen. I did not get a no password screen, but just one asking for the password. The default “admin” isn’t accepted. I have changed the IP to 192.168.1.1

    HELP

  • Has any one tried with Nikon d800 and this system, please I tried all and it’s impossible

  • This version of firmware will work with iOS app or only android ?

  • Can you monitor multiple cameras like this? My shoots are going to use 2 Canon DSLRs

  • I’m curious to know if a second TL-MR3040 unit in repeater mode can be used to extend the range? CamRanger claims 150-300 ft, but I’ve seen only a fraction of that reported regarding the TL-MR3040. Do you know of any side-by-side comparisons? My assumption is that they would be the same, and the CamRanger’s number is wildly exaggerated

  • Will this setup work with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera?