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A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:50 pm
by bhs128

As this is my first post, a quick introduction first. I'm a Comp Sci student at Augsburg. I'm interested in far too many things, but among them are computers/technology/astronomy/photography/cartography.

I'm currently working on a pinhole camera based on the standard "Quaker Oats" design.

The only difference is mine uses a 6" aluminum pipe instead (I plan on having 3/4" plywood ends), as I intend to leave the "shutter" open for up to six months at a time. Where I need some help is drilling into the aluminum-

This side-view shows that I will need to use some sort of 3/4" flat-end bit to drill part-way down, and then a 1/2" bit to go all the way through. The reason for the ledge is to support the laser-cut pinhole I bought.

The end result will be higher resolution images like these.

So as I'm new here, I have a few questions:
1) Does the Hack Factory have the bits/drill press to do something like this?
2) Would anyone be interested (or willing) to help with the drilling (I imagine it'd be simple)?

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to meeting you guys.

Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:30 pm
by mcsteve
We have a couple drill presses, but I'm not sure what kind of bit would work well for making the 3/4" hole with a flat bottom. I bet Pete (otto_pjm on this forum) could probably mill a hole like that with his fancy CNC router, though...

Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 10:31 pm
by Booka
I second Pete's comment about not having the bits... Plus the press we have is not quite set up to mill fractions of inches cleanly.

Because of the curve in the pipe, you will need something that allows the depth increments to be very fine.

Pete has his CNC mill that would have to be our best current option.

What I would suggest is that you stop down on a Wednesday night, bring your plans and the pipe if you have it..

(I also would like to hear why Aluminum over say PVC or Wood. The whole project sounds fun, and I would like to hear about it, and how you got to where you are at.


Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:31 pm
by otto_pjm
Sounds fun,

Forsner bits work pretty well in Aluminum, so you could do it with a drill press, or the CNC Router. Either way making some sort of jig to hold the tube properly would be key. How long is the tube and where is the the hole you want made in relation to the ends?

Normally for round stuff you'd use V blocks, which we don't have but we could approximate some. Also 6" is about the tallest thing that should fit under the router.

Come by some Weds night and we'll see what we can figure out.


Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 11:25 am
by bhs128
My wife has a strong objection to anything PVC, so I went with Aluminum. It is a 12" long piece that I picked up from Discount Steel.


Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:26 pm
by metis
forstner bit and drill press. set-up and machining are easier than with the cnc.

you'll want a *good* bit, probably purchased at rockler or woodcraft, which i expect would run about $10 for that size. it will put a small center divot in. if you can't have the center divot, it's a simple enough matter to start the hole with a shallow angled twist bit and finish with a forstner that's had the centering brad filed off. at half inch you might be able to get away without it at all on a nice new bit without skating.

you might be able to use a half inch flat bottom router plunge bit and mount it in a drill press, i've used them for smaller flat bottomed holes in a pinch. they'll prolly run you a bit more than the forstner though.

Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:05 pm
by jrsphoto
Ya, I'd say bring it in on Wednesday. I would bet we could do it. I have some forstner bits that I would agree, work well in al. It would just depend if the center divit left over by the bit would matter? Making a jig to hold it would be simple enough.

What are you using for film?

Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:06 pm
by jtbarclay
Isn't the black pipe next to the pvc at most hardware stores abs?

For a 6 month exposure is moisture going through wood ends going to be a problem?

Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:29 pm
by Booka
I guess that is part of the reason I would like to hear a bit more about this, things like what are you using to capture the image (film, CCD, something old school), where it will be during the 40 below nights of winter and aluminum being a great thermal transfer medium, and in general the what could happen discussion that will follow the description.

I understand the PVC dislike, but it to if handled properly can be reused..... or ABS, or whatever else there is. The point may be settled as our Author may just want to make the pipe he has work, but still I am curious about this.

Re: A Pinhole camera - (in need of help)

Posted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:41 am
by metis
i suspect if pvc is out abs won't be happier, although my thought was at the offgassing of the plywood vs pvc.

i'd be more worried about thermal contraction of the al at -20 than the plates. if the ends don't have means to deal with that they could end up popped out, cracked or loose when the sun hits it the next day.

a sonotube might not be a terrible idea if saturated with polyurethane.