Instructables
Picture of Bargain-Price Book Scanner From A Cardboard Box.
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Who doesn't want access to their books, notebooks, magazines, class notes, and other stuff everywhere, all the time? The thing is that often these things are a pain to scan. I have a really good solution for that, but it's expensive and can take a whole weekend to build. How do you scan a book, magazine or notebook when you have no money, one camera, and just a little time? Matti and I show you how:

(PDF version here)
 
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Step 1: Reasons You Might Want To....

Picture of Reasons You Might Want To....

BEFORE WE BEGIN... Reasons you might want to do this include the following:

  1.  You need to scan something, fast, but it doesn't scan easily.
  2.  You don't want to build an entire DIY Book Scanner.
  3.  You don't want to waste your time with a flatbed scanner.
  4.  You have only one camera.
  5.  You might not have a lot of tools or experience.
  6.  You want digital copies of your books or notebooks.

ALSO... We've done this book scanning Instructable thing before. And answered many questions in the comments! And we love you guys completely, but sometimes (well, actually, all the time) we get the same questions over and over! So we've compiled a Fairly Annoying Questions (FAQ) Here are some answers before we get started!

1. Why not just take a picture with the book on the table. 

  1. Why don't you. ;)
  2. Your camera doesn't have enough resolution for two pages.
  3. The distorted pages are not fun to read onscreen.
  4.  Lighting is inconsistent.
  5.  Cameras cast shadows. You cast shadows.

2. Why use a camera instead of a flatbed scanner?

  1.  Pressing a book on the scanner breaks the binding.
  2.  Flatbed scanners are slow.
  3.  You need to reposition the book for every page.
  4.  Flatbed scanners are slooooooow.
  5.  Sloooooooowwwwwnesssssss.

3. Why not use a sheet-feed scanner like the ScanSnap?

  1.  I don't like sawing the bindings off my books.
  2.  A small part of me dies when I destroy a book.
  3.  I don't have a tablesaw.
  4.  I'm not willing to spend ~$500 just to destroy a book.

4. Can't I use a webcam?

  1.  No.


 


ChuckinWA made it!2 months ago

I constructed the box base scan bed as instructed and it works as described. I have an issue I'd like advice about if possible. I've been scanning my grandmothers sewing publications for archiving. As the example shows, I've have a reflection on the bottom edge of the picture (it's been rotated) that I haven't been able to eliminate. I've repositioned the light source and also tried putting spacers under the center of the box's hinge point to change the angle from about 90 degrees to something larger. These changes haven't eliminated the reflection. Moving the book higher on the box to avoid the hinge point does work, but that takes away the efficiency in this design when scanning multiple pages.

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lrockwell15 months ago

Just made one of these and am currently using it to scan some awesome antique science books. Thanks for the ible!

daniel_reetz (author)  lrockwell15 months ago
Nice! If you want to expand it, or explore other book scanning stuff, join us at www.diybookscanner.org/forum .
garfieldnate9 months ago
Thanks for this! Some notes- you can go with a bigger piece of glass (mine was 12x15), but your wrist will get tired of holding it. Turn the pages away from the camera so that you can have an efficient circular motion throughout the scanning process. Don't move the book between pictures! It will make cropping the pictures with ScanTailor way easier later.
Also, ScanTailor is very neat, though I have trouble with it always running out of memory on certain pictures. The dewarping facility was useful because I didn't get a proper straight-ahead shot of the pages.
neutronbomb10 months ago
Lesson learned.. Turn off the time stamp on your camera before taking photos of 224 pages!
I'm having a problem getting the rename and rotate all program to work correctly. When it runs in the DOS shell it indicates that it went thru all of the files and renamed them all, but when I actually open the file it only finished half the job. Any ideas???
that looks AWESOME, Where did the idea come from?
prawnonly1 year ago
I also looking for similar solution.
But it seems that some company came out with XCANEX.
Checked its video and it look cheaper.
ANyone tried it??
ecz1 year ago
I'd been looking for a solution to this; too many books and no kindle versions. So far this seems to be an outstanding solution, with detailed help every step of the way.

Thank You!
JensonBut1 year ago
tooo awesome!
sdfsger1 year ago
Is a very good website, Yes, for I have a lot of help, thank you!!!!!!
I would recommend to my friends.

The recommendation of a friend professional Graphic Converter! really good and I like it very much, I save a lot of time. To try his
I tried the Scan Tailor and it won't process jpg files. Anyone having the same problem? (I convert to tiff , it worked but would rather have the jpg files and save a step). By the way, thank you so much for the instruction for the book scanner, I am in the process of learning how to set it up and actually have a book in pdf.
Awesome..
zwheel2 years ago
I wonder how this would work...

Skip the tripod
Get 2 lamps instead of one (With the bendy arm just like in your example)
Remove the light from one of the lamps and attach the camera to that.
chakkers3 years ago
Another cheap alternative for buying a glass sheet are clip frames. You can usually find those in cheap, or poundland type shops in the UK anyways.
monkban3 years ago
So what do you do with a paperback book you want to copy that does not open up nicely as hardback books do? Meaning -- if I put a new paperback book in the box-wedge and open to the page I want to copy, the book simply closes. Any thoughts? Thanks.
monkban monkban3 years ago
Wondering if anyone had any thoughts yet on how to handle a paperback book with the problems described in my first post (above) about book not lying flat. Thanks!
maybe two pieces of glass?
fire bat3 years ago
This is an amazing prodject. i was in a bind (no pun here) the other day. my backpack literally broke under the weight of my engineering texts. i built this in 10 mins, and now all i bring to class is a laptop and a note book. you guys are a life saver. 5 stars here!
daniel_reetz (author)  fire bat3 years ago
Awesome. If you ever get a chance, drop by DIYBookScanner.org and share a picture of your setup!
I started this today, (great instructable) and have some questions. How do you consolidate all the separate pdf pages into a "book" to load to the ereader? Is there another program to make a large pdf or epub file? I haven't bought an ereader yet, but plan to soon. I have a 1200 page vegetation ID reference book, plus a few others that I'd like to convert so I can lighten my backpack.
daniel_reetz (author)  robbtoberfest3 years ago
Robbtoberfest, you should really join us over at DIYBookScanner.org. In particular, check out the "software" forum and the "new standard scanner" build thread to see some modern improvements. This instructable, though great, is outdated and we have lot of improvements over on the forums.
Will do, thanks much.
Need2Relax3 years ago
Mac Users can do the same "print to PDF" thing, but it is already built into the Mac OS X. View all those images in any application, then print. Note the "PDF" button at the lower left corner of the print dialog box, and use it to print to a PDF file instead of whatever printer is selected.
10.6 and possibly 10.5 allows you to create multi-page pdfs simply by copying all the files in finder and pasting them in preview.
daniel_reetz (author)  Need2Relax3 years ago
Thanks for the tips!
wnnorton3 years ago
Some cameras have the ability to "lock" the focus and exposure settings, allowing a much quicker recovery and re-shoot. With a static setup such as this, it should prove quite useful.
bluefly12153 years ago
Very nice, this would work great with old books that are falling apart. It also would come in handy for keeping a documented copy of important items such as genealogy, baby books, scrapbook pages, wills... I could go on but I think you get the idea. I have taken photo's and made them into phish, not fun with old books, some over 100 years old. This gives the book some support without cracking the old spine and the camera is parallel to the page.
CyborgGold4 years ago
Um... correct me if I am wrong.... but I believe a camera should be on the things needed list... just saying ;) Maybe you know some magic trick that I have yet to learn :P
daniel_reetz (author)  CyborgGold3 years ago
Good point, we thought it was implied. I'll change it someday.
D00M993 years ago
I may or may not do this project, but one thing is for sure;
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE PROGRAMS!!!!!!
daniel_reetz (author)  D00M993 years ago
You're welcome! Matti did most of the work for the small programs, and Scan Tailor was done by Joseph Artsimovich. I am just the camera/scanner guy. :)
Need2Relax3 years ago
Mac users can use the shareware GraphicConverter. If you pay the shareware fee that unlocks batch processing.Opens almost any format of graphic, and saves in almost any graphic format. Also great for cropping & adjusting. The batch processing is a wonderful thing.
ezuk4 years ago
This is a _superb_ 'ible. There aren't many ebooks in my language, and being able to convert my own books (that I've bought and paid for) to read on my e-reader is _awesome_. Thank you so much!
daniel_reetz (author)  ezuk4 years ago
You're very welcome. Feel free to join us at the DIY Book Scanner forum if you run into any trouble along the way.
Servelan4 years ago
Totally cool...I've got all the raw materials for this. I agree with you totally about banging up books, and sometimes, magazines, depending on how they are bound, are just as much a problem [think National Geographics and the like] to scan.

daniel_reetz (author)  Servelan4 years ago
Awesome. Looking forward to seeing your results... and all your questions are probably answered over at diybookscanner.org. :)
My younger one has a project like this in mind. He wants to build a portable scanner in a box. To do that the camera has to be situated in the box. Is this possible with the steps above.
JJJM4 years ago
Hello, I am just giving my first steps into scanning books and this has been very helpful, specially the Q&A section at the beginning.

My goal is not only to have a pdf but a text document which is more useful for ereaders. So far, with my short experience I have two questions for you:

* Do you get good pdf quality which can be converted into text witha high success rate?

* In my opinion lighting is one of the keys? How could we improve it to have a better scanning? Fluorescent or halogen do any better?

Thanks again.
mguima4 years ago
 Freeware Irfanview has plenty of features to process several pages: cropping, rotating, color enhancing (auto or user-defined),resolution changing, etc.
mguima4 years ago
I would give a try to a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp), instead of the incandescent one.
LimbusFarm4 years ago
I've been having an issue running the RenameAll.exe file. It will consistently lock up after ~90 images and Windows will close the program. Is anyone else having this issue or can see the issue in the code? Thanks.
Turns out it was easy to hunt down; my first shot at fixing it was trying to free() the next image from memory, problem was the next image hadn't even been loaded yet. Also I wanted to free() the current image. It's all fixed now.

The links in the instructable now point to the new binaries and source code.


Awesome! Thanks for fixing it!
Yeah, I noticed it last night while I was trying do do a 260-pager.

It's a nasty memory leak I've been trying to hunt down; a very stupid way to get around it would be to make a bunch of ~60 sized subfolders with half right/half left and do them in chunks.

You see, we did our testing on a 20-page test data-set...

I'll update the code/ instructable in the coming week with improved stuff.
daniel_reetz (author)  LimbusFarm4 years ago
Hey maxwellparish, I'll forward this on to Matti.

If you're in a hurrry, BulkRenameUtility is another good general purpose renamer. But we will get RenameAll working.
Chromatica4 years ago
Cool.
Too bad theirs no way to do this in Vector format. Only roster.
Doctor What4 years ago
I loved your first scanning instructable, but it seemed too complex to be able to do in one's house, unless they had a large dedicated space.

This seems way easier, and I love the idea.

EXCEPT:  Your final images were slightly.... umm.... illegible.  Was this an error in the uploading to the site, or do they actually look like that afterwards?
daniel_reetz (author)  Doctor What4 years ago
 I just put some notes on those images to prevent any further confusion about image quality. 

Thanks for the kudos... hope this leads even more people to start scanning their own stuff....
You can upload bigger images than those  - was the site reporting a specific error?

L
I think he's talking about the quality decrease.
Thanks for clearing things up.  I am going to try this now!  (my textbooks would be much easier to carry in digital format).
daniel_reetz (author)  Doctor What4 years ago
Good luck and please report back with how it turns out. We're also talking about it here. I think you'll find Scan Tailor does a great job with books that are mostly text. 

The other thing I think you'll find is that you'll want to zoom in on your books much closer than our little camera image in step 8 might suggest. 

Finally, I think this is going to work best on books that are thinner than the one we used (it's over 2" thick). The thing that you'll notice is that the pages "move away" from the camera as you travel through the thickness of the book. That is what the sliding cradle in the original instructable solved. But this is all minor stuff. Cheers and again, best of luck to you.