Live View Timeout - Dongle Disabling (No time limit on HDMI Video Output)

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Richard B99 Senior Member • Posts: 2,834
Live View Timeout - Dongle Disabling (No time limit on HDMI Video Output)
1

I thought I'd share this mini hardware hack that I think I invented over the weekend. (At least, I couldn't find it published anywhere else).

Those of you using the base level Nikon DSLRs (D3nnn, perhaps the D5nnn too) will know they output clean 1080p HDMI video over their HDMI socket. And it's pretty fine quality, great for streaming or video conferencing purposed from bodies that are really cheap these days. There is however one big 'gotcha'. There is a maximum 30 minute 'Live View timeout' after which the camera powers down. Unlike the higher end bodies, there is no 'never' timeout setting. Well there is a way to do this elegantly.

Couple of notes first:
- I don't think this will work with the D3500 because Nikon removed the accessory socket in it's drive to minimise the cost of the current baby. The D3300 and D3400 are fine though (I did this and have tested with a D3300).
- You need to switch off AF on the shutter button (menu item). It's best to put it not the AF/AE Lock button on the back of the body. For the purposes noted above, that's not a big deal as the D3nnn Live View AF is not great anyway. Better to set focus and work within that!

So this is how to build a mini Dongle to stop the Live View switching off:

- First get a cable release that fits the accessory socket. Nikon call these MC-DC2 Remote Cord. Much cheaper can be had on-line for about $10.

- Cut off the handset piece and throw it away. Keep the accessory plug with about 3"-4" of cable. Strip back the outer cover by around 1". That reveals 3 wires. One is 'ground', second is 'Shutter' and third is 'AF'. (colours of wires vary).

- To make this work you need to join the AF wire to the Ground wire. Work out which is the right pair as follows. Strip a 1/4" of inner insulation off each wire to reveal copper. Switch the live view timer to 5 mins (menu). Join one pair of wires together. Switch on live view and wait at least 5 mins. If you have the wrong pair, Live View switches off automatically after 5 mins. If it doesn't, you have found the right pair!

- Joint the right pair permanently together (solder is best but twisting them together - strip a bit more inner insulation - is ok). Insulate the wires (heat shrink tube or insulation tape).

- Job done. That's it.

Now all you have to do is:

- Take the wire 'dongle' out of the camera.

- Switch on live view and plug the dongle back in and live view will stay on until you switch the camera off or pull the dongle out again.

To go really neat, instead of just fixing the wires together, wire a small 'push to make' switch between the wires. Then you don't have to remove the dongle but just switch off/on whenever you select live view. (One final word of caution. The third wire in the cable -  insulate this too because connecting the ground, AF and shutter wires together fires the shutter on Nikon cameras.)
Enjoy your limitless Live View with an elegant hack (at your own risk of course).

Pictures:

Wires stripped.  Blue & Green worked for me.

Blue & Green twisted together. Red, snipped off.

Soldered for a good contact

Wires folded back & heat string tubing fixes in place.

Installed in D3300 for 'Never Timeout' Live View (this in an overhead camera pointed down onto a desk.

That's it really.  I went for the simple, compact version!  It will run with an AC powered D3300 for hours.  Gets warmish on the back but it's not proved to be an issue.  
Hope this helps someone else as its a mildly annoying feature of these useful and remarkably good value DSLRs.

Nikon D3300 Nikon D3400 Nikon D3500
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