Instructables
Picture of Cheap iphone macro lens for barcode scanning
A glaring problem with the iPhone's camera is its inability to focus closer than ~1 foot away. Some aftermarket solutions help fix this problem such as the iClarifi by Griffin Technology. This case for the iPhone 3G allows you to slide a little macro lens over the camera to take closeup pictures, and is also handy for scanning barcodes for use with apps like snapr.net.

I've got a 2G iPhone and a limited budget and wanted in on this barcode-scanning fun as well. I googled some things and was inspired by this, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. I finally came up with the following cheap (free) solution.

What you need:

-a disposable camera. You can get these from most any photo counter, for processing they just crack the film out and will recycle the rest. They'll usually give you a handful of cameras for free if you tell them you're doing a project.
-a flathead screwdriver or something else to pry the camera case open.
-a flexible iPhone case. Not necessary, but you've gotta mount the lens somehow. I got a case for $5 at 5 Below.
 
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Step 1: Assess the salvaged disposable camera

Picture of Assess the salvaged disposable camera
Salvaged cameras will be in various states of disassembly, but almost any camera will do. The Kodaks seem to be more plentiful and they have more plastic that we can use for mounting, as you'll see later. All we need from the camera is the viewfinder lens that is closest to your eye when you're taking a picture. The camera contains other lenses, including a slight telephoto lens, but I've found this one is the best for barcode scanning purposes.

WARNING!!! These cameras have a large capacitor for the flash which can give you a very damaging shock if you touch it. Stay away from the circuit board or you may get injured. The people at the photo place will probably warn you about this as well. You should probably wear safety goggles for this project.

Also, do NOT press the "flash" button before you start to take apart the camera, or you can be sure that you've made the project a lot more dangerous than it needs to be.
jones1111 year ago
hello, I just learned something about iphone barcode. . so, share with you.
appsman2 years ago
For the iPhone 4 or 4S, 3D print a cute macro lens. Shown here:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-an-iPhone-4-or-4S-slide-on-macro-lens/
Loup-e 4.jpg
geraldkrug3 years ago
This is a great thing you made. Are you still testing out barcode apps with it?
ch0rtle (author)  geraldkrug3 years ago
Thanks Gerald! I haven't had use of it since the newer iPhones have better cameras that can handle barcodes up close. Now such things are built right into the Google app! Thanks for the comment.
thedoc673 years ago
Wow awesome project!!!
TheDoc67

www.freshtaste.co
jam BD5 years ago
Very neat .... =D
metaldazza5 years ago
This is cool. I removed the same lens to use on a mac book pro to get it to work with Beep My Stuff. I blogged it here but it's basically the same as what you've done. Thanks for posting this.
ch0rtle (author)  metaldazza5 years ago
Nice! Glad it helped. And thanks for the heads-up on your site as well. I use DL sporadically but I like the online aspect of BeepMyStuff. BTW other folks who wander here, I got a 3G S and the more advanced camera eliminates the need for this hack, at least for barcode application. I haven't built this into a 3G case, but I assume it's still good for experimental photography and extreme closeups.
Kryptonite5 years ago
This is cool, but next time, why not just use a non-flash-disposable-camera instead? Probably safer, I've seen what happens when you play around with these. (The pliers used to discharge the capacitor is no longer alive, poor Bob, may he rest in piece(s))
You're right. But it's pretty hard too really hurt yourself with one of those. Sure it might give you a little scare, but fatality i think not.
Yeah, fatality's out, but it does hurt. :S It'd probably just be easier to use non-flash though, so if you've got an option... well, you get the point.
ch0rtle (author)  Kryptonite5 years ago
I just got out of my coma. :) You're right, a non-flash model would be safer. They're pretty rare, though. All of the models I acquired had a flash.

There are instructions out there for making taser/stunguns out of these cameras, so yeah, be careful.
I hate the idea of tasers, and to an extent stunguns, I've seen one in use and it looks like those medieval tortcher chambers. Painful. Sometimes it can rip the muscle off the bone if they wind the voltage up enough. Most of the ones I acquired were none flash, oh well I guess it depends on your camera store. i busted a perfectly nice set of pliers ($2) when short circuitting one of these. Sad face.
Plus cheaper
How's it cheaper?
Wouldn't non-flash be cheaper?
You don't buy it, if you plan to get a disposable camera and not use the film, just go to a camera store and ask for a used disposable camera. Just say that it's for a project and they'll happily give you as many as you want. They recycle them any way.
But your be getting the used camera for free see?
arashiodori5 years ago
I might as well just get a much better Nokia or any other camera phone with proper focussing...
If you are going to buy a cell phone based on its camera, buy a camera...
And if I don't want the additional baggage? Get a better all-in-one device...
ch0rtle (author)  arashiodori5 years ago
To me that seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water. Certainly not as fun as DIY, at any rate. I just wanted to note that it's not really additional baggage. I've been carrying the iPhone with the case for several months and it's not noticeable at all, beyond the baggage that comes with any protective casing.
That, and I cannot share it over Bluetooth...
142400 cam543215 years ago
ch0rtle (author)  1424005 years ago
...unless you have a first-generation iPhone, which will not work with the iClarifi.

Maybe I should have clarified that by 2G I meant "first-generation" iPhone. I'm still puzzling why we refer to is as 2G rather than 1G, but I digress. ;)
cam54321 1424005 years ago
Yes you could, but then you have a case which isn't necessarily a good case. All so you can focus up close, it still doesn't make the iPhone camera a truly good camera. Also seeing as this is a site for DIY, showing what alternatives you could buy isn't really very helpful.
fynflood5 years ago
ch0rtle (author)  fynflood5 years ago
Your solution inspired me to look at disposable cameras in the first place. Thanks!
barcodeguy15 years ago
Literally too many moving parts. Why is this always so complicated. (rant over). I wish someone would invest in making the technology so you can read the UPC, EAN and other codes that are already on products, inventory and documents, and have the program decode the characters and send them to the application you want - like your contact manager or notes application. Then, we wouldn't be captive to a particular code, company or equipment mix, and could even print our own barcodes, like using a code 39 font and scanning them into the application of our choice.
ch0rtle (author)  barcodeguy15 years ago
I hear ya. Maybe with these upcoming whiz-bang iPhone 3.0 peripherals they'll make a proper iPhone CueCat! ;)
adamthiede5 years ago
works with the 3G? I don't have an iphone, but im just wondering...
Xaledo5 years ago
Nice! I'll try this. I actually have the same case (from Apple's own website!) for a lot more money, and it broke very quickly. I need to get a new one, desperately.
baxterdog5 years ago
This is an awesome idea. I searched and searched for one of these cases that would fit my iphone. I don't have the 3G. This is incredibly useful for ANY closeup. Kudos. Perhaps just a cheap plastic magnifier might work as well, we're just talking lenses here.
chrisayad5 years ago
AHAHA yeah dude stop making me get an iphone!!!
Sandisk1duo5 years ago
Cool! now i need to get myself an iPhone..
=SMART=5 years ago
This is really cool! a great, cheap soloution to an awfull design flaw !