Getting A Home Built Scanner From ’92 Up And Running Again

In 1992, [Arpi] didn’t have much time for Ninja Turtles, Nintendos, and other wonderful wastes of time his fellow geeks were raised on. He was busy building a scanner for his Commodore 64. Although this very impressive build could have been lost to the sands of time, he pulled his project out of the attic for a “Try to use it again” party. Although this party is not a formal competition, we’re going to say that [Arpi] walked home that night with the most geek cred.

While there are no build details, there is a bunch of info to be gleaned from the gallery about how this machine was built. We’re pretty sure a good majority of the build was a typewriter at one point, and it looks like there’s a windshield wiper motor in there somewhere. Like this completely unrelated but similar build, [Arpi]’s scanner uses a photoresistor and a few LEDs to transfer image data to the custom software. In case you were wondering, yes, the ancient 5 1/4 floppy disk was still readable – one of the few advantages of the huge sectors on these disks.

Check out the videos of this scanner in action after the break, and if you’ve got a decades-old hack sitting in your attic (remember that acoustic modem you built?), send it in on the tip line.


8 thoughts on “Getting A Home Built Scanner From ’92 Up And Running Again

  1. I’d say that is the remains of a dot matrix printer… it is running on the same principles of the ThunderScan for the original Macintosh. I remember how amazed we were to be able to tape a picture onto the printer paper and scan it into a black and white image!

  2. This reminds me of my desire to develop an open source scanner project for very high quality film scanning. There are a lot of us who still shoot film and have a lot of film still to be scanned.

    It would probably be a drum scanner based on PMTs.

    For those who aren’t aware, used nikon 9000 scanners sell for nearly $4K on ebay. I paid $1900 new for mine back around 2007.

    1. I have the very same desire given the very dense 4×5 negatives I have kicking around. The issue I keep running into is that while the negatives are printable in the darkroom they are too dense for transmissive scanners to capture the entire range from highlights to shadow. If you’re aware of any solutions I’d be glad to hear of it.

  3. lol, it was me creating this beast when i was 13 :)
    the base was a Robotron electronic typewriter (i got it from my neighbour, who repaired these), not a matrix printer. the big motor is really a windshield-wiper of an IFA, the
    smaller motor (horizontal mover) is from a hairdryer.

    optical part is a red LED and a KPX-81 photo transistor (not resistor), directly connected to c64’s joy port’s analog input.

    there are some buttons and a 24V relay to do the direction changes. and some very big capacitors to power the vertical
    motor when stepping a line up. that’s all.

    the software was also written by me, the main part (data sampling and interpolation) in assembly, but on paper in HEX because i didnt have an assembly compiler yet.

    that project was thought impossible by almost everyone around me, as i was 13 years old, and had no help at all.
    all the stuff used for this beast was actually garbage…

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