Instructables

Hello,

My fiance and I are getting married in October 2011 and we decided we wanted to build a photobooth for the wedding. We saw that the photobooths out there were nice but $1000 was too much. I asked her if I could build us something dorky for our wedding and she said only if it's not tacky. So I figured what better than this. We decided we could use it as the guest book and we could make our own picture frames and give them out as the wedding favors.

This instructable is broken down into 5 parts

Steps 2-19 are building your own mini itx PC
Steps 20-56 are building the photobooth
Steps 57-58 are schematics for building a serial button for the booth
Steps 59-63 is how to setup the software so you can run this on your laptop or pc
(sorry windows users only for now, also you must have webcam and speakers)
Steps 64+ are future upgrades I'm still working on

I work as an electrical engineer by day so carpentry, software, art and computer aided designs are not my strong point, but I figured it would be fun. So we gave it three months and we wound up designing everything from software to hardware ourselves. There are still a lot of details I'm working on. One big one is the robot that cuts the photostrips and how to access the twitpic api so I can correctly upload these to twitpic rather than using emails. But the basics are working. Any tips or ideas I would gladly pursue.


Keep in mind I will be working on this for ten more months so this is the beta release. I hope you enjoy my instructable. If you are interested in downloading the software just skip ahead to step 60.

For updates and samples go to
http://twitpic.com/photos/diyphotobooth

V0.22 available at Step 60
beta release
-voice enabled
-webcam enabled
-limited config editing enabled
-gui in progress
-tweeting in progress
-printing disabled





[video compressing]


Step 1: Intro


 
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Congratulations on a fantastic Photobooth!! I don't have a web cam, but I have a Canon Powershot. How do I get the program to recognize the Powershot?.
aberson2 years ago
The UUUU from a 555 timer is very clever, but couldn't this button simply have been an SPST button looping back DTR to DSR or CTS? You'd write software to wait for DSR and then do something, and you wouldn't need any components besides the button and some wire.
hainesface3 years ago
Will the software work with a canon DSLR isntead of a webcam? thanks!
Algag3 years ago
"... had a darker finish than I has expected." :D I love talking in bad english
Garreth3 years ago
Couldn't you just use smaller photo paper in the printer?
splitreaction (author)  Garreth3 years ago
It's limited to 3 inch widths and the photo strips are a bit more narrow.
Garreth3 years ago
If you have a vice, I would suggest a sawzall with a metal cutting blade. Keep the blade oiled so that it doesn't overheat.
splitreaction (author)  Garreth3 years ago
That's a good idea. I didn't think of that.
iApple guy3 years ago
How much did it end up costing
splitreaction (author)  iApple guy3 years ago
Personally about $500ish with the PC.
kermudgin3 years ago
The program will not display a picture before taking. It also wont let me view the pictures that I have taken. Is there any way you can help me with this. I have your zip file and have downloaded interfran.
splitreaction (author)  kermudgin3 years ago
Hmm... It sounds like the webcam isn't working. Are you using XP? I noticed some webcams won't work if you aren't using the windows webcams drivers. I had to uninstall my webcam's driver and use the default ones to get it to work.
Seth Black3 years ago
...here's an open source program that's been in development for a little while:

http://www.openphotobooth.com/index.php

It may be of use to you, in working out the bugs in your own program. :)
splitreaction (author)  Seth Black3 years ago
Hmm I wish openphotobooth had more documentation. Doesn't seem like it has a interactive gui or a help file. Is that true or did i miss it all?
splitreaction (author)  Seth Black3 years ago
cool thanks!

It's tough fitting updates in between work. At this point I have the twitter/email feature and splash screen working. I figure the twitter feature will be a nice way to share the digital copies.
rru963 years ago
Great idea on the props. One thing though, is to make sure you have contrasting backgrounds so that certain colors, or skin types, that make up your guests won't cause them to fade into your backdrop colors all because they chose to wear a red shirt., or white..etc.
splitreaction (author)  rru963 years ago
That's a good idea. I think for my wedding a lighter color like white is probably good. White isn't too much of a problem at a wedding since the bride will be the only one white and it won't be a plain white.
stevemail3 years ago
On printing, why not pre-cut photo paper to the size strips you want? You could probably get 3 strips out of a standard size 8.5 x 11 sheet.
Alternatively, you could use another standard page size--e.g., 4 x 6--and arrange the 4 shots in two columns.
splitreaction (author)  stevemail3 years ago
I have a lot of sheets of 8.5 x 11 photo paper and for now I'm trying to make 6 1.5"x8" strips where they will be precut and printed 2 at a time. I made this little model to demonstrate an automated cutting mechanism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHgxIzcepxc&feature=player_profilepage

If it fails,I'll probably have to precut them. There really isn't a problem either way. I just felt a little robot would look interesting.
Seth Black3 years ago
Fantastic work on this!  I absolutely will keep an eye on how this continues to evolve.

Suggestion:  Don't forget to incorporate a controlled light source into the final design. 

- The lighting at the reception venue may be unpredictable and more subdued than you're testing the unit with now.

- The black curtain will greatly reduce the amount  of ambient lighting, and greatly impair the exposure.
splitreaction (author)  Seth Black3 years ago
Thank you, I really appreciate that.

It was a lot of fun designing it and a lot of time to write up. I'm glad you like it.

Right now I rely on the monitor, which is a poor illumination source. Hopefully when I find the money to upgrade this to use a canon power shot camera the internal flash will be sufficient. If not I'm gonna sacrifice some of the space up top and use it for illumination.

The black curtain is my default, but I have a white and red one as a backup.
...anytime. :)

You could certainly upgrade to the Canon PowerShot, with its internal flash, or simply retrofit the cabinet with a daylight balanced fluorescent tube, so there's a steady level of light.

Personally, I would explore the possibility of using the constant light source, over the strobe (flash) method:

- Better, precise and predictable control of uniform exposures for each guest.

- Almost complete prevention of red eye, and hot spots.

- Consistency of light source during entire venue.

- Strobes can sometimes misfire and underexpose if the capacitors is not fully charged, when the shutter is tripped.


The black curtain would not impair exposures, once a light source is in use. 

The red curtain would be very much like the black, and would not impair exposures. 

The white curtain would reflect light back to the camera, and exposure will be effected to some degree.

One thing you could also consider incorporating would be a white FoamCore panel above the seat area.  This reflector could be flat, or in a domed configuration. 

With the existing light source, this would function very much like a hairlight, and impart a very professional look to the captured images.
splitreaction (author)  Seth Black3 years ago
Hmm, never thought of it that way.

I could permanently install the light source onto the top module. It would still be nice and enclosed. I'm not sure what you mean by daylight balanced.

The foam board maybe difficult to mount. how do you feel about repositioning the white curtain as a top reflector and using the red curtain as a privacy stand, like in angryredhead's comment? I have a feeling I may lean towards this design. I may have a way to make it all integrated if its in that manner.

...any type of white reflective material could be used to bounce the light back down. 

"...I'm not sure what you mean by daylight balanced..."

Here's an example of a standard incandescent screw mount:

http://www.porters.com/flash-studio/studio-lighting-bulbs/daylight-balanced-85w-spiral-fluorescent-lamp.html

There are a variety of tube configurations that might work, as well.

The main thing to remember is that you want even lighting on your subject(s):

- Single (or double) horizontal tube

or

- Two or three screw mounts evenly spaced. 
I like it... a lot!

Chalk up another vote for the Ultimate Photobooth.
Impressive!  I really like how portable it is - very smart and elegant.

I saw you screwing and unscrewing the shelves, and that might be a nightmare on the wedding day when you pass the task off to someone else.  I think french cleats would help immensely while still keeping everything secure.  You would need to attach them to both sides and the back, but then setup is a matter of hanging shelves rather than screwing them in.  They'll also improve the durability should you want to take this to parties and other gatherings.  It would be great for family reunions!

The curtain is probably going to get pulled off a couple times which means reattaching it during the night.  It might be easier to use a folding privacy screen that's detached from the booth itself.  It would be cheap and easy enough to make out of pipe or "sticks in a can", and then, if you do have someone over 6' tall, no one would have to duck to enter.  It will add to the foot print, but privacy screens are also popular home decor items.

Congrats and best of luck on wedding preparations!
splitreaction (author)  AngryRedhead3 years ago
Haha you're definitely right. That's why I had to finally get out the power tools. I started out with hand tools. In the end setup only takes 8 mins and teardown is 4.

French cleats would be much faster. The center module keeps the two halves from splitting apart so I'm not sure they would work there. I do need additional shelves to hold props so french cleats may do the trick for those.

Now that I actually built this thing, I doubt I really need screw bolts, some cotter pins would have probably been enough.

Privacy screen is a better idea. The only reason I stuck with the curtain idea was the traditional look of a photo booth. I've tried to swing the idea, but for some reason, without the curtain, people just don't count it.

Thanks for all the advice. I still have another ten months of improvements to make.
I'm impressed you can do it so quickly, but I wonder how quickly someone else would be able to do it.  It's your baby, so I'm sure you're very efficient with setup and tear down.

As for privacy screens, I meant a black fabric privacy screen which would look more like a curtain sort of like this.  It will still give the classic photo booth look but perhaps less troublesome.  You could even make the exterior fabric red and the interior fabric black.  I don't think a solid or wooden privacy screen would work so well.
splitreaction (author)  AngryRedhead3 years ago
Ooh I see,

That's pretty cool. It would also keep it light weight. I can probably just re-purpose the PVC rods from the original curtain, It should be long enough too.
Brilliant! :)
splitreaction (author)  Yashknowsbetter3 years ago
Thank you so much!
3366carlos3 years ago
Outstanding! Make sure you use a high definition camera.
splitreaction (author)  3366carlos3 years ago
Thanks!

Surprisingly since the photo strips are so small the web cam quality photos are acceptable. I do want to incorporate this into my wedding albums so I'll be purchasing a canon power shot when I see one come down in price.
Great job! You got my vote.
Thank you so much!
Dr. Pepper3 years ago
This is a photo booth. LOL