Picture of Happy Little Mac Pinhole Camera
We have all heard of Macquariums, and I have even built a few, but have you ever heard of a Mac Pinhole Camera? Here is how I built one for International Pinhole Camera day (4/29/07). I just know there is an old Mac sitting in your basement... go ahead, it is time to void the warranty!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Gut the Mac

Picture of Gut the Mac
I used an old Mac SE for this project. To crack the case, there are just a few screws to pull. They are torx screws, If you do not have a torx screwdriver, a flathead will work. Once the screws are removed, the front pulls off easily. Just get your fingernails along the crack and pull.
Really, it is not that hard to do.

Here are some other instructions on how to crack open a Mac

Once you have the case open, remove all the electronics and discard. You will have to look for screws. Be careful of the monitor, sometimes high voltages can zap you! Wear a long sleeve shirt in case the monitor breaks. Don't worry too much, just be careful.

Step 2: Insert back plate

Picture of Insert back plate
Create a back "plate" out of foamboard, cardboard or or wood. I used foamboard because it is easy to cut and shape. Basically cut the foamboard so that it covers up the entire back of the inside of the Mac.

Step 3: Tape with aluminum duct tape

Picture of Tape with aluminum duct tape
Tape all openings that might let light in with aluminum duct tape. I guess you could use other types of tape. Pinhole cameras are not rocket surgery.

Step 4: Epoxy a piece of matteboard to the screen opening.

Picture of Epoxy a piece of matteboard to the screen opening.
Whip up a batch of 5 minute epoxy and carefully glue a piece of matteboard to the opening of the front of the computer (where the screen is). Let it dry overnight. You will want to put a weight on it to hold is while it dries.

Step 5: Spray Paint Flat Black

Picture of Spray Paint Flat Black
Spray paint the inside of the computer and the inside of the front panel flat black. You will need to mask the outside with newspaper to keep the front looking good. Make sure it is all flat black, you do not want light bouncing around in the box! Do this outside, spray paint does not smell too good.
GarrasP1 month ago

That Mac might have been worth a lot of money to the right madman willing to pay a king's ransom for it. It is good that you still used it the way you wanted to instead of saving it for the next guy who will not enjoy it for the thing it is.

rimar20005 years ago
Very good result. Pinhole photos are usually bad, but yours are good.
bpwagner (author)  rimar20005 years ago
It is all in the pinhole and how much time you put into creating the pinhole.  The pinhole I used is perfectly round.  I put it under a microscope and took a look at it.  Also having it focus on a full sheet of paper makes it good.  Thanks for the kind comment!
bpwagner (author) 6 years ago
Just regular photo paper - 1 8x10 sheet
mindesign6 years ago
is the photo paper just regular photo paper that you would expose negatives to?
Hey!!!! 4/29 is MY BIRTHDAY!!!!! SWEET!!! PS: Cool Instructable!
bpwagner (author) 8 years ago
There is something going on with the comments. I have received some comment/questions by email, but cannot respond until the comments show up here. I will respond when they show up. If anyone out there knows how to fix this, it would be super. Brian
I assume you got my initial attempts at posting a comment. I kept getting that 500 error.
bpwagner (author)  LasVegas8 years ago
I did get it ... Not a digital nor one pixel, but a cool instructable, nonetheless! It's sad you disposed of the electronics. It might have come in handy if your school ever wanted to present '1984' for the annual play. Actually I do have an old Mac classic set up in my computer lab. I am a middle school computer teacher. The kids love to play Shuffle Puck Cafe, Risk and Oregon Trail. The first question out of there mouths is how do you open Firefox...
quicumque8 years ago
Cool use of the Mac, I also like "rocket surgery," which is in my top 5 mixed metaphors. Cheers!
bpwagner (author)  quicumque8 years ago
if you want some really funny metaphores try these... actually they are analogies...
I thought this was going to be an instructable about building a one pixel (single sensor) camera using rotatable mirrors etc. I wonder what gave me that idea?
I have to agree that the title makes no sense in context.
bpwagner (author)  pharoah8 years ago
Ok, Ok, I Changed the title. I was trying to make a clever comment on the state of photography these days. The single pixel was the pinhole and the digital part was because the photo was taken in an old computer. I did scan the image and invert it in Photoshop. After completing this project I have a new respect for old school photography. Just taking a couple of photos is a half an hour process.
clickykbd8 years ago
Really nice instructable.
crapflinger8 years ago
would putting that sickly green monochrome lettering that made the old macs so desirable on the outside of the mat board make any difference in the photos taken? it would be nifty to put some randome code up on the "screen" as if it were still working
bpwagner (author)  crapflinger8 years ago
It would make no difference at all. You can do anything as long as you don't let any light into the box (except the pinhole)