A slide carousel with a DSLR attached to its lens output

Digitize Your Slide Deck With This Arduino-Powered Slide Carousel

If you’re above a certain age, you probably remember the atmosphere of a pre-Powerpoint 35 mm slide show. The wobbly screen being unrolled, the darkened room, the soft hum of the projector’s fan, the slightly grainy picture on the screen and that unmistakable click-whoosh-clack sound as the projector loaded the next slide. Nowadays you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone willing to set up a screen and darken the room just to watch a few photos, so if you still have any slides lying around you’ll probably want to digitize them. If you’ve also kept your projector then this doesn’t even have to be that difficult, as [Scott Lawrence] shows in his latest project.

[Scott] made a setup to directly connect a DLSR, in this case a Nikon D70, to a Kodak 760 slide carousel. The attachment is made through a 3D-printed adapter that fits onto the Nikon’s macro lens on one side and slides snugly into the carousel’s lens slot on the other. The adapter also holds an IR transmitter which is aimed at the camera’s receiver, in order to trigger its remote shutter release function.

The carousel’s original light source was replaced with a compact LED studio light, which allows for precise brightness control and of course remains nice and cool compared to the original incandescent bulb. The light, camera and carousel motor are all controlled through a central user interface driven by an Arduino Leonardo which can automatically advance the carousel and instruct the camera to take a picture, thereby taking the hard work out of digitizing huge stacks of slides.

[Scott] plans to make the software and STL files available on GitHub soon, so anyone can go ahead and turn their projector into a digitizer. If you’ve misplaced your projector however, a simple 3D-printed slide adapter for your camera also works for small slide decks.

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A Solar-Powered Point-and-Shoot, Circa 1961

Try to put yourself in the place of an engineer tasked with building a camera in 1961. Your specs include making it easy to operate, giving it automatic exposure control, and, oh yeah — you can’t use batteries. How on Earth do you accomplish that? With a very clever mechanism powered by light, as it turns out.

This one comes to us from [Alec Watson] over at Technology Connections on YouTube, which is a channel you really need to check out if you enjoy diving into the minutiae of the mundane. The camera in question is an Olympus Pen EES-2, which was the Japanese company’s attempt at making a mass-market 35-mm camera. To say that the camera is “solar-powered” is a bit of a stretch, as [Alec] admits — the film advance and shutter mechanism are strictly mechanical, relying on springs and things to power them. It’s all pretty standard camera stuff.

But the exposure controls are where this camera gets interesting. The lens is surrounded by a ring-shaped selenium photocell, the voltage output of which depends on the amount of light in the scene you’re photographing. That voltage drives a moving-coil meter, which waggles a needle back and forth. A series of levers and cams reads the position of the needle, which determines how far the lens aperture is allowed to open. A clever two-step cam allows the camera to use two different shutter speeds, and there’s even a mechanism to prevent exposure if there’s just not enough light. And what about that cool split-frame exposure system?

For a camera with no electronics per se, it does an impressive job of automating nearly everything. And [Alec] does a great job of making it interesting, too, as he has in the past with a deep-dive into toasters, copy protection circa 1980, and his take on jukebox heroics.

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