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Home Made Camera: Night 2

Posted 2009.10.06 22.44 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

I don’t feel like I made as much progress tonight, although I think I did as much work…

Tonight I worked on the film transport mechanism – aka the knobs. I’ve made them complicated as they do 3 things. They have to rotate of course, to allow the film to be advanced. They also have to move up and down, because the bottom part of the spool holders are fixed, so the upper / knob ones have to move so the spools can be loaded and removed. And finally, they are tensioned with springs, so they provide tension to the spools, to help keep the film tight.

The first picture below shows a closeup of one of the twisty springy bits that will be inside the camera. The second picture shows the twisty springy knobby bits test-mounted to the camera body. There is some more work to do with these yet but I’m happy with the design, it’s just some fine-tuning to make it perfect.

After working on that for a while, I made the camera back. Well ‘made’… I cut it and filed it to size then cut a little hole for the film counter. I need to find some ruby gel material (or a cheap substitute.)

Then I worked a bit on the simple shutter mechanism. I had an idea this morning, instead of making the simple shutter and the pinhole together as one module, I realized I could make separate shutter modules and separate pinhole / lens modules. I was still stumped though in that I wouldn’t be able to swap anything with film in the camera. Then this afternoon I got another brainstorm.

I’ll make the ‘simple shutter’ module, then permanently fix it to the front of the camera. It becomes a safety shutter – simple to open and close for use with a pinhole, or close it then I can swap lenses, or add a real shutter and real lens (once I’ve made them.) I didn’t get the simple shutter thing finished tonight, but got the wood and metal bits cut out. I just have to put them together.

Finally, I painted the inside of the camera with black paint. I don’t know if it is matte, I couldn’t find anything that specifically said matte. Generic black is good enough I guess.

Oh and I forgot to mention this last night – do you notice the mini-tripod in two of the above pics? Yeah, I built a tripod mount into the base of the camera.

Home Made Camera: Night 1

Posted 2009.10.05 23.11 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

Today after work, I was thinking about a project. At first I was going to take over the world, but then I figured I could do that next week. This week, I decided to make a camera.

Rather than mess around with silly things like plans or knowledge, I decided to just have at it. I had some requirements in mind, for what I wanted, what it would have to do:

  • It would use medium-format 120 film.
  • The format would be 6×6.
  • It would initially be a pinhole camera, but…
  • It would have to be adaptable to accept a lens and shutter later.
  • It would be made of wood, brass, that sort of thing. No plastic, if I can help it.

So, I got out some hobby wood, a ruler and pencil and started measuring and marking. As I wasn’t using a plan, I determined the best way to proceed would be to build the 6×6 exposure box bit first, then the framework to hold the film spools, and so on. In other words, starting with the middle and working my way out. I’d tackle the harder bits when I got to them, such as the film advance mechanism and the shutter assembly.

To permit the camera to switch between a pinhole setup and a lens/shutter system, I figured to mount a pair of brass bolts on the front of the camera body, then I could make my pinhole setup and a lens board etc. as modular attachments that mount to the bolts. Brass wingnuts would hold the lens / pinhole modules in place.

So after the first night of work, the camera body is almost completed. Remaining assembly steps on the body are fitting the top piece, and building the film transport knobs, then finally sanding it all down. The interior will be painted matte black and the exterior will be finished with tung oil.

I also have to make a back for the camera, but that’s pretty straightforward – the only tricky bit is I need to decide how the back will be secured in place. I have some ideas in mind already though.

After the body is finished, I will build the pinhole module with a rudimentary shutter. Then later I’ll have a go at making a lens module with a ‘real’ shutter, i.e. 1/100th or so.