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What is HarTALK?

The NiCOMM HarTALK interface provides a safe, open and cost effective connection from the Nikon F90 / N90 / F90X / N90S / F100 / F5 cameras to other intelligent devices (for example: personal computers, palmtops, remote control devices - and the list is growing).

HarTALK consists of a small connector cable that interfaces with the camera's communication port. A small black box houses the on-board microprocessor and circuitry of HarTALK.

A female RJ-45 jack located at the rear end of the unit makes HarTALK accessible to a host of serial interface cables and various intelligent devices. This is important, because you need not change to a different version of HarTALK when you want to switch between a Macintosh, PC or USR PalmPilot. You simply unplug the Macintosh serial cable from HarTALK's RJ-45 socket and replace that with the PC or Pilot serial cable - HarTALK takes care of the rest.

PC Connectivity

This is the removable serial cable that connects HarTALK to a PC. If ever you should decide to plug your Nikon into a different computer, such as a MAC, you need not replace HarTALK: all you need is to plug a different, inexpensive, serial connector, such as the MAC serial connector seen below, into HarTALK.

This PC serial cable comes standard with the purchase of every HarTALK interface.

The recommended software needed to support the Nikon-PC connection is SoftTALK 98 or SoftTALK DOS - depending on your operating system, camera body, hardware platform and personal preferences.

MAC Connectivity

This is the inexpensive serial cable, sold as a HarTALK accessory by COCOON Creations, that connects your Nikon, via HarTALK to a MAC.

The current MAC-Nikon software inter-connectivity is facilitated by DOS emulation software that is needed to run (the PC based) SoftTALK versions:

  • Connectix VirtualPC (a DOS emulator for MAC) in combination with SoftTALK DOS
  • Connectix VirtualPC (as above) with Windows 95 in combination with SoftTALK 98

As before, your choice of software will depend upon your operating system, camera body, hardware platform and personal preferences. See the following test reports...

PalmPilot Connectivity

Yes, HarTALK "talks" to the PalmPilot too! Many professionals find it very handy to take their PalmPilots with them on shoots, and have the nifty little PalmPilot take care of their camera communications, through the equally nifty little interface that makes it all happen: HarTALK...

So whether your purpose is to access your camera's processor somewhere out on a fashion shoot, or whether you and your camera are dangling high in a tree to photograph the Birds of Paradise in a jungle of New Guinea, HarTALK can be a tool that help you make the most of your equipment and, of course, your talent.

The inclusion of additional on board intelligence to HarTALK enables you to fire and focus the camera directly from the computer's keyboard with virtually no delay between key press and the camera's reaction - while using the Same serial port as is used for data communications.

HarTALK is the only interface of its kind that provides this functionality to the specified professional and semi-professional Nikon cameras.

While normal camera operations will still be sent at slow serial speeds, some camera controls will now be communicated at Ultra High Speeds allowing you to focus or fire your camera from the computer's keyboard with only a 2-3 millisecond delay between the key press and the camera's reaction.

This is the port through which HarTALK connects to the Nikon camera. HarTALK can communicate with the camera at ultra high speeds.

Those who have followed the evolution of HarTALK over the past three years will remember that the original connection diagram of HarTALK's PC connection included 2 port connections (of which one was the normal serial link, and the other an additional parallel link for high speed remote control). The HarTALK on-board intelligence provides high speed camera remote control with no the need for the additional parallel connection.

You, therefore, only need one serial port for both normal camera communication and high speed HarTALK controls.

Some of our users still have specialised requirements and therefore want to use the Parallel port for communications - not the serial port. For that reason, HarTALK fully supports both parallel and serial port remote control.

Full Optical Isolation

HarTALK protects your camera's processor and electrical circuitry from interference or surges of up to 5000 Volt by implementing full optical isolation.

Your camera is now also protected from various electrical interference sources whereby a surge passing through your RS-232 serial connection is prevented from damaging your camera's circuitry.

This is significant when you consider the likelihood of possible faulty PC switch mode power supplies, or possible surges coming from the power lines powering the PC, or possible earth potentials developing (PC's switch mode power supplies can develop earthing problems when going faulty), damaging the camera through your PC port. Standard electrical level convertors (such as the MAX 232 type) are simply not good enough in a case where actual optical isolation is required.

HarTALK is, as far as is known, the only interface of its kind to do so.

Extended (Wire-Based) Remote Control

Because HarTALK provides full optical isolation for your camera's communication channels and for your camera's remote control ports, you can now safely use extended wire-based remote control devices, without physically connecting to the camera's electrical system. With HarTALK the complete camera circuitry is optically isolated from whatever you connect to the HarTALK interface.

This is RC1 (Remote Control 1), which is an inexpensive, but fully functional, remote control unit that can interface with HarTALK. This unit is available as an optional accessory of the HarTALK interface and also comes with an extension cable included in the package...

This image shows RC1 being extended via a standard barrel connecter to an extension cable. Please note that all these components are included in the purchase of an RC1 unit. The two red but can be expanded with or without the knowledge or approval of the designers of such a system.

The connectivity system on board the Nikon F90 / N90 / F90X / N90S and F5 Cameras is a proprietary system. The NiCOMM product Range opens up this proprietary system so that it can talk to virtually anything that has been built around the open connectivity standards of HarTALK, as is published on this site.

The HarTALK Interface's external port is Easily accessible (using standard RJ-45 4-wire / 8-wire telephone wire) making it easy for OEMs and scientists to develop a host of products that can communicate with your Nikon via the HarTALK interface.

Here, at the rear end of the HarTALK interface, the female RJ-45 connector can be seen, which is the universal port that allows HarTALK to speak to other devices.

Also: "Home builders" will find it very easy to make a remote control unit for the camera themselves, once they have purchased HarTALK.

Compatibility with a range of software products

HarTALK functions with:

  • SoftTALK DOS
  • SoftTALK 98 (the 32-bit, multi platform and GUI based)
  • SofTALK 2000 (the next generation of SoftTALK 98)
  • OPTN90S
  • DataView
  • PhotoSecretary

Expect a host of products that will (in future) connect to HarTALK

We hope to attract OEMs to make interface products to our HarTALK and have published the HarTALK technical specification on this website, enabling such development. (It is easier for an OEM to interface to a RJ-45 connector than to a 10-pin Nikon proprietary connector!) We are currently designing a number of intelligent devices that will interface with HarTALK.

OEMs: Click Here to download Elecspec V1.03

Nikon (and presumably F90, N90, F90X, N90S and F5) are registered trademarks of Nikon Inc. and Nikon Corporation Japan.
Windows, Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.