New & Improved Portable, Paperless, Digital Copy Machine

Picture of New & Improved Portable, Paperless, Digital Copy Machine
Don’t wait in line to feed coins into the library’s photocopier!
Here are instructions for making a portable, paperless, digital copy machine.
   [Earlier I published a version of this that had a clear-plastic “page press”. In some cases, there was too much reflection off of the plastic, and I couldn’t get good copies. This new version has an adjustable, windowless frame for pressing the pages flat. This version is cheaper to make and packs up smaller than before.]
Your materials should cost less than $20, maybe less than $10, and the labor time should be only a few hours. I am assuming that you already have a digital camera and a computer for downloading pictures. Of course, your camera will do most of the work here, but you will provide it with a steady stand that has a press for getting those book pages flat.
The pictures show what the final device looks like, fully assembled …
and broken down for transport.
I suggest several, options for improving your copies – in some cases, low-cost software is involved. If you follow all of the options, you can convert your images into word-searchable documents. You can’t search for keywords in the pages you get off of a copy machine! And think of the trees you will save by going paperless!

   (The book example is World Book Encyclopedia, 1989.)
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Step 1: Parts Needed

Picture of Parts Needed
2x threaded rods, 36” x 1/4”
1x Tygon tubing, 6’ x 1/4” inside diameter
16x 1/4” nuts
5x 1/4” wing nuts
4x 1/4” stop nuts or acorn nuts
1x 1 1/2” x 1/4” bolt
1x wood scrap, about 4” x 2” x 1/2” (size depends on your camera)
2x 2” angle brackets (with 1/4” holes)
4x wood screws, 1/2”
1x shelf track (the kind for adjustable shelving), 6’
4x 1” angle brackets
4x 3/16” threaded “eyes” (they come with nuts)
4x 3/16” wing nuts
4x 1/2” x 1/8” bolts
4x 1/8” nuts
Tools Needed
electric drill and bits
hacksaw (for cutting the threaded rods)
electric drill and bits
hacksaw (for cutting the threaded rods)
vise (for bending the rods & holding the track for drilling)
two wrenches (adjustable or fixed-gap wrenches of 7/16” or 11 mm, or pliers)
I'm in the middle of this build, and I just stumbled across an incredibly effective way of drilling the holes in the tracks. I wanted to pass it along to everyone.

First of all, as has been mentioned already, you can buy the bookshelf track at Home Depot (and other places I'm sure). It was over in the cabinet section when I went. It costs less than $3 for a six-foot piece. It's pretty light and will bend if you treat it rough, but you can easily bend it back.

I found it to be impossible to drill a round hole in the rectangular slots of the track using a normal spiral drill bit. The bit kept getting locked in the slot, and that kind of stuff always makes me nervous. So just as an experiment, I grabbed an old spade bit (the flat ones used for boring large holes in wood) and gave it whirl. To my amazement, rather than killing me, this actually drilled round holes in rectangular slots like butter. I did about 80 holes in 45 minutes.

Here's what to do:

1) Place a scrap piece of wood underneath your track where you're going to drill. The track should be have the legs down, flat side up. Clamp the track down tightly near where you're going to drill so there won't be any vibration.

2) Insert a spade bit into your drill. You may end up dulling the bit so if you can use an old one instead of one from your nice new set, that would be good. If not, they're pretty cheap to buy. You're going to use the point of the spade to cut your holes, so the edges need to be sharp. The width of the base of the point should be slightly greater than the diameter of the hole you're trying to drill. I used a 1/2" spade for making the requisite 3/16" holes.

3) Insert the tip of the spade point directly in the middle of the slot you're going to drill and dig it into the wood to hold it in place. Start drilling at a moderately high rpm and slowly press down to ream out a hole about 3/16" in diameter. The edges of the spade point simple shave off the inside of the rectangular slot, and the hole will get bigger as you drill down further. It's the same idea as a step drill bit. The spade does such a great job of shaving off the soft track material that if your hole is off center or too small, you can just ream it out until it works.

4) Repeat as many times as necessary.

This technique will cause some minor variation in hole diameters because it depends on your ability to gauge how far down to drill. And it does leave some semi-sharp edges on the holes, but I think a single pass with a belt sander would take care of all of that. The process is amazingly safe, though. No chance of a bit getting stuck and torquing your drill or hurtling track across the room. I'd, of course, recommend wearing glasses, but I didn't see any metal shavings flying all over the place. They formed nice little piles right under each hole.

The bit itself lasted through 80 holes and didn't show any signs of getting dull. I'm sure there'd be no problem still using it on wood like it's actually designed for. I imagine the track material must have been aluminum or something else that's fairly soft. I highly doubt this would work at all with something made of steel.

I know this is only a minor thing, but I hope that it can prevent someone from getting stuck in the middle of the project like I thought I'd be.
Icy135 months ago
Rather than drill the already indexed and aligned tracks, why not file down two sides of each eye bolt. They should still have good threads on the remaining rounded sides and should, in principle, still be easy to thread the wing nuts onto. The idea occurred to me because of how through panel toggle switches are mounted.
Psyckosama10 months ago
I'm working on the build now, though I'm going to give it a try with 1.2"x1" pine instead of the tracks. I'm thinking it'll be easier to drill. I'll let you know how it goes.
dalin3131 year ago
Wanna convert pdf to word? Here is the guide for you to follow:
How to convert pdf to word on mac
static4 years ago
A good instructable. However I see myself struggling with bending the allthread rods just so. Another posting the link to copibook may see me trying to duplicate that design.  Then watch someone bust me for copyright infringement if I dare post an instructable. :)
I have the same problem with this design as I don't have a vice to bend the rods in accurately. If you are OK with a slightly less portable copy stand, have a look at my one:........ You only need a hand saw and drill to make it.
reggilbert3 years ago
If you are going to be carrying out very many projects of any length, best to get an image-merging program of some kind. I use the full version of Acrobat, admittedly expensive at $200+ (though available at colleges for $70 if you are a student), but there are cheaper options, such as PDF X-Change viewer Pro for $35 (there's a free version that puts stamps on the merged pages), and I would guess there are some free programs that can output multi-page TIFFs, though I am not sure how such files are read. Bottom line, inserting pages for documents of any length individually into Word pages will probably take longer than the original copying.
Free options - free print-to-pdf utility (like PrimoPDF, and there are others), works from any app that can print. Installs as a printer driver, select it at time of printing. Also, PDFTK Builder will join individual PDF files, including the selection of specific pages from multi-page files if desired. It can also split and re-order multi-page pdfs. (OO.o) suite will allow export to PDF of any document you create with it. Both PDFTK and OO.o are available in portable versions that will run from a USB stick, if anyone is interested in that. For more layout control than a word processor, Scribus is an option. As for image editing, there are more options than I can list, including portable options, all with different levels of functionality depending on your needs.
scintnl3 years ago
 I like this idea very much, but I haven't been able to find a suitable track (The ones I've found are very heavy) Do you know where can I find a source for this in the net?

I'm will be adapting this for an iphone with the clariff case
DHagen (author)  scintnl3 years ago
The track material should be available at most hardware stores. It has different finishes (chrome, gold, bronze), but I think all are iron ... and comparably heavy. When cut up for the frame it doesn't seem overly heavy, and it is nice and rigid.
flammel4 years ago
 It's not a copier, it's a scanner. Also, using this on copyrighted books would be copyright infringement.
Using this on copyrighted books, depending on how it is used, is likely covered under fair use doctrine, which allows the 'backup and archival' of legally obtained works. As long as the digital one was the only one being used at any given time, and was being used by the owner of the original, this would be legal. Copying, per se, is NOT illegal. The DMCA only outlaws copying of digitally copy-protected material, which books are not (nor are CDs, actually, since they are not encrypted, though some do have other copy protections on them). It is the sharing and the defeating of copy protection which is illegal, not the copying.
I think all this copyright discussion is stupid. The coppiers in the library pay a fee for possible copying of the CR materials, so you already pay even if you copy your own papers. On the other hand, the authors gets their part of reward when they sell the books. And you cannot stop copying. In the worst case I would just rewrite it a middle-age style or read it and depending on my memory - copy it back... Only if I am not giving credit to the author, it would be plagiarism and infringement of someone's rights... Secondary rights is such a BS! When you eat a bun and tell your friend what delicious it was and what was inside, does not make you criminal even if you try to bake it yourself. The same goes with "disassembling, reverse engineering and cracking" the bun... And you don't have to pay your plumber who has installed your toilet every time you flush it, right? So let's stay in the subject, OK? :)
I liked the idea, though it is not an original idea. Good that people try to do and finish their projects. For my needs I would need two sided scanning (!) and a page turner/feeder, so personally, it is too nice (and time consuming to build) for small scanning and too simple for a 100-1000 page scanning. Personally, I just use "the hand stand" and even an old 2 mpix camera is OK to print it afterwards.
 No, that's wrong. Copying material you're not allowed to copy is exactly what copyright is supposed to prevent.

Fair use really only exists to let you something with the material - you can discuss it, criticise it, teach with it etc and that's fair use. It doesn't mean you can copy an entire book so you can read it on your phone.

You're right the DMCA doesn't really apply here but you're wrong to say that doesn't mean it's not against copyright. The DMCA is just one piece of US legislation. It's not all of copyright law.

A lot of things are against copyright law that you just don't get sued for, like copying music from a CD onto an iPod. It's a bit like jaywalking, it's technically a crime (copyright isn't a crime) but the police won't put you in jail for it because it's so minor.
A copier and a scanner are the same thing.
Not 100% true.  A copier will produce a replica on a piece of paper.  A scanner will produce a replica in the form of a file.
I can download the picture from my digital camera to my laptop as a file.
I agree, you can download a picture from a digital camera to a laptop (as a file).  But the statement "a copier and a scanner are the same thing" is not true, as I explained above. 

A digital camera is not a copier.... it is a camera.  Sure a digital camera takes pictures like a copier, but a copier doesn't produce a file.
These devices make photo copies of documents, in the truest sense of the term :)
flammel flammel4 years ago
 If you could make a version that has a base on top of which you put the books and a hinged top piece that has the frame to hold the book in place, you could probably patent this.
 Doubt it, this has been done before.
as the author of this instructable pointed out "use as needed'.  Coping an entire book, whether, xerox, scanner, the method described herein is a Copy Right infringement.

Copying portions regardless of method (and taking into account the use of the copies) is not a Copy Right infringement.
Actually, it would only be copyright infringement if you passed on the e-book you created to someone else. Under the precedent set by RIAA vs. Diamond Multimedia, consumers have the right to "space-shift" media that they own into alternate formats for their own personal, non-commercial fair use.

That's why you're legally permitted to rip CDs and put the MP3s on your computer and mp3 players—but not upload those MP3s to peer-to-peer networks.
chrisbaker4 years ago
I tried this concept (not the design yet) last night & found that doing a glossy magazine was quite difficult--too much reflection.  I'm sure your setup would overcome that with a parallel (& close) camera angle. 
Doing a book worked great.  Here's the free OCR site I used:
It wouldn't handle columns (I had to save pics as single columns of text before uploading), but otherwise did a very good job of recognizing my text.  The text came up in a window on the screen (Firefox even underlined the misspelled words for me--not sure if that's built into the site or not) for me to edit & copy.
I haven't looked for myself, but read  that this function is built into Google Docs now.
jjmcgaffey4 years ago
How big an image can you get here? I'm on, and we just had a discussion about scanning the covers of oversized books. A normal-sized flatbed scanner (which most of us have) won't cut it, and a digital photo is _hard_ to line up right and get the lighting clear. This seems to solve both problems!
DHagen (author)  jjmcgaffey4 years ago
The frame, as illustrated, goes only to about 11.5" x 13" (inside dimensions). You could make it larger (and less portable) by using longer pieces of track material (Step 3) and longer rods (Step 4). You would still need to optimize the alignment, lighting, and post-processing (Steps 6 & 7) for nice images.
bclagett4 years ago
I have some very old vinyl records.  I have recorded them to MP3's using Audacity and burned them to CD's.  I used a rig similar to yours to photograph the covers and made covers to fit the CD crystal cases - front and back.
JanxAngel4 years ago
 This is a great idea for students who only need a few pages out of several books for research papers and such.  The pluses of this method are you're saving paper clutter in your dorm/apt/bedroom, saving money, saving time by not having to line up at the copy machine, & you're not as likely to misplace a digital file at 3am the night before it's due.  Bonus:  Your copies are in color, which is awesome for adding pictures and diagrams to project materials.

Yes, copying whole books you don't own is infringement, but there's been a long standing use of copy machines to duplicate sections in books for use at a later time, whether it's for school assignments, or just a cool project.  This is especially true with reference books that the library doesn't allow to be checked out.
johnpombrio4 years ago
I dunno what the librarians would think of this if they saw it in action. Magazines, newspapers, new books would all be capable of getting you kicked out of the library. I guess you would have to find a quiet corner or check the book out.
  I mean if the library allowed it, then what would now allow you to use this in a bookstore?
  If you did check it out, then you could just use a flatbed scanner.
The above discussion on copyright covered this. If you own the copy, you can scan it for your personal use as an e-book or whatever.

Library books, magazines, etc. and items in a bookstore are not items you purchased, so you don't have any right to copy them!
Not sure what you guys are talking about. You can take any book in a library and copy an article or chapter or whatever on the electrostatic copiers there. Undergrad and grad students do it daily, multiple times (although it's less necessary because of the wonderfully accessible full-content articles available through the various library databases). Was ever thus. Can't see why this is different, and librarians are well aware of what goes on in their libraries and whether they can support those activities.
nighthawk994 years ago
Some of you folks need to get a life -- The dude is offering a cheap and easy way to copy stuff you own, to put into a file or use the way you want to -- It is not a social statement copyrights.  GET A GRIP
olavxxx4 years ago
 Hi, I like your idea.. We have a couple of professinal versions at work.
The Copibook HD and we have one Copibook RGB+.

Your book scanner would be much better, if you could make the mount like on the copibook 
wobblestar4 years ago
A nice solution, which gives perfectly framed pages.

However, in my work I have to copy large files of documents away from my office. I've been using a simple digital camera without a copy stand for years. It works very well. Much easier and faster than a photocopier.


agis684 years ago
 Extra Genius, very well mentioned and extra supported article. Grate job...I will use it because i need some copies many times....
DainiusGB4 years ago
 My brother made something like this with a wooden stool that he had drilled a camera lens sized hole into. This design looks a lot more streamlined tho!


mossDboss4 years ago
very nice and clean design

does this take a picture of the both pages at once?
DHagen (author)  mossDboss4 years ago

Often you can take a picture of both pages. Check out the three different figures in step 6. In the first one, the camera is set up for two pages at once. Note that the camera can be either in the portrait (fig. 3) or landscape (figs.1, 2) orientation.

paganwonder4 years ago
World Book Encyclopedia 1989-LOL  (JK- as a young child my curiosity thrived on an encyclopedia from 1905!)
SinAmos4 years ago
Ummm.  Sexy.  Good work.

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