A photographer converts a slide projector into an Arduino-powered digitizer

A photographer converts a slide projector into an Arduino-powered digitizer

For those with family members who grew up in the 1980s (or earlier), a slideshow was a very popular way to share and view photos before the Internet was a thing. But these days, finding a way to get people to sit and watch those pictures with you in a darkened room is harder than finding a functional projector. to mask his old 35mm slides to a digital photographer Scott Lawrence He created a custom digital system based on a slide projector.

The video above is 8.5 minutes long at first spotted before HakkadaiLawrence walks us through the process, the problems I encountered, and the equipment he used to make it Arduino– System with digitization/scanning of all slides of his old family.

Starting with a Kodak Carousel 760, Lawrence swaps out the lenses from the projector and replaces them with a new Ulanzi 49 LED panel, which is then, through a series of 3D-printed components and cables, connected directly to his machine. Nikon D70 (set at f22) and a Vivitar 210mm Macro Zoom Lens with a 2x teleconverter added to it captures each of the images presented through the slides.

© Scott Lawrence

The “brains” of the module as Lawrence calls it, is an Arduino Leonardo (SS micro) with a six-digit LED display and an Adafruit I2C rotary controller connected to an infrared LED to remotely trigger the camera to capture the slides as they move through the projector.

According to Lawrence, replacing light bulbs with a compact LED allows for more precise control of brightness and keeps the system as a whole less hot compared to the regular incandescent bulbs that projectors usually charge. Then, once the Arduino-powered system starts up, it automatically optimizes the carousel and triggers the camera to capture each slice (using an IR LED), making it incredibly easy to digitize large amounts of slices in a short amount of time.

© Scott Lawrence

Here are some screenshots generated by the setup;

© Scott Lawrence
© Scott Lawrence
© Scott Lawrence
© Scott Lawrence
© Scott Lawrence

While the setup and 3D printing may be overly technical, Lawrence says the system itself is fairly simple and straightforward. “You put a tray or stack of slides on top, make sure the camera is pointing at it, in focus, set the manual exposure correctly (I used 320 ISO, f/22, shutter speed 1/10 second), and start the controller. Then Just wait 10 minutes, and all 140 slices will be captured!”

“If it takes too long to make a capture, or any pre-capture culling is needed, it won’t happen. These slices will go away if no one does anything, so any amount of capture (even with bad results) is better than doing nothing.” Not at all. For the most part, these are family trips and vacations. No one else would be interested in doing it, and no one would pay to do it … “

Lawrence says he’s still working on the post-processing side of the setup. He currently has the images placed in a gallery with a small database on the backend where the images are tagged with the collection or “slide tray” the images belong to and any additional dates or keywords that may be relevant to make them easier to search. He hopes eventually that the program will be able to present albums based on the compilation specified by this database.

The photographer also plans to make the software and 3D print files available online through github Soon enough anyone can use them to digitize old projector slides so they’ll be preserved (and shared) for years to come.


Image credits: Photos provided by Scott Lawrence

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