Introduction: Portable Photobooth

Picture of Portable Photobooth

I made a table top photo-booth to use at my kids' school carnivals a while ago. I also built curtains out of pvc  and material (unfortunately, i do not have pictures of that). The problem was that the photo-booth was to big and heavy to carry around every time I wanted to use it. I decided it was time to build a portable photo-booth in a suitcase to make my life easier. 

For this build, I used:
-A case (approx 13" x 18" x 6")
-The foam that came with the case
-Cheap pair of computer speakers
-Logitech webcam
-Windows tablet 
-1/8" thick wood panel
-Ikea LED lights
-Portable Photo Printer
-Power Strip
-Photobooth software- (I'm using Sparkbooth)
-Various tools such as a Dremel, Hot glue gun, Utility knife
-Various Nuts, bolts, velcro and other items I could find to hold various items in place


Step 1: The Case

Picture of The Case

I found this cool looking case at the harbor place that sells freight and thought it would work great. It is about 13" x 18" x 6". I knew that I needed something around this size, although I was not sure where I would find something like this. Luckily my search brought me to this case. Now I needed to figure out what to do with it.

Step 2: Where to Cut

Picture of Where to Cut

Before I started cutting, I dry fit my components to make sure things would fit correctly. The only thing I did not have at this time was the webcam ( I may decide use a dslr or powershot for better photo quality some time later, but for now I wanted to keep using sparkbooth)   I started by cutting out the holes I would need for my 10" tablet, speakers and lights. 

For tablet cutout, I simply made a template and used my dremel tool to cut out a nice rectangle.

Update: I later upgraded my tablet, as the software didn't work well with an Atom processor (Way to slow)

Step 3: Fitting Components Inside the Case

Picture of Fitting Components Inside the Case

Although I had a plan in my head, I did not have anything drawn out because I was trying to use as much stuff I had laying around as possible. The speakers are from a cheap pair of computer speakers that were sitting in the closet. No better use than to use them for the photo-booth.

In one of the pictures, you will see the transformer for the cheap speakers. I cut and shortened all the wires to cut down on clutter. I also made sure to enclose the transformer and inverter portion to keep hands away when there was power to it.

For the speakers, I cut the speaker case and glued the front grill portion to the suitcase so I had something more solid to attach the speakers to. I attached the volume control to the top of the lid and cut a hole on top for the volume knob to stick out for easy access.

The power strip, speakers and transformer fit nicely behind the divider I made. It was nice the case had grooves on the sides.

Step 4: Fitting Even More in the Case

Picture of Fitting Even More in the Case

Every time I added more electronics to the photo-booth, all of these wires would suddenly appear.  I had to figure out how to accommodate for all of the power bricks and other wires I did not want to cut and customize. In one of the pictures, you can see my tablet, some Ikea led lights and the speaker amp/control. 

Of course I do not want to shorten the power cable for my tablet, as I want to use my tablet outside of the photo-booth. I also did not want to shorten the wires for the Ikea lights, because they give out the harshest light possible and I will figure out a way to better soften the light at a later time, so those may come out. I do have a soft box to use externally, (modified to use two 5000K CFL bulbs) which is better for lighting. The only downside is the Sparkbooth software is unable to support a flash.

I wanted to use the suitcase portion for printer storage, so I had to figure out a way to manage the wiring I did not want to cut. I put everything (except the camera) in the case, along with all the necessary wiring to see what all was involved. From there I was able to figure out how much space the wires and power bricks would take up.

Step 5: Looking More Finished

Picture of Looking More Finished

Finally bought a webcam. I bought this because it is a decent webcam for the price, I did not feel I needed to spend to much. I also needed to be able to tilt it up and down (so the photo-booth can be used standing up or sitting down, and to accommodate for little kids and adults). The only way I could mount it so it could tilt was to have to have it stick out a bit, but that problem is solved, because I am able to turn the camera around and fold it on itself so the lens does not get scuffed up in transit or storage.

Also bought a canon selphy photo printer, which fits nicely inside the case. Maybe not exactly the ideal printer for major events, but it was a fun little addition so I could officially have a complete all-in-one photo-booth. The printer does need to be taken out of the case when in use, as there is a paper tray that attaches to the printer.  I also use another (bigger) photo printer if necessary.

The case I bought came with the eggshell and the pick out foam, as shown. I used the foam to my advantage to protect the printer and paper tray as well as to hide other imperfections. 

The left side of the case (where the paper tray is) is a cover over the wires and power bricks.

Step 6: Finished Product (almost)

Picture of Finished Product (almost)

I am by no means a craftsman. There are so many imperfections on this photo-booth. The cut outs are nowhere near straight and I don't have any molding or anything to make it look nicer (maybe later). I even cut out a hole on the side of the case I was intending to use for access to USB, but is not being used. Oh well. It was a fun little project and I intend to make it better as ideas pop into my head. 

The photos do not show the LED lights turned on (all the holes on the sides). They are harsh, but I do have a separate soft light I use.  Maybe I will figure out a way to diffuse these lights later. 


Step 7: Update

Picture of Update

I did some tweaking to accommodate for a tablet that would handle the software, as the other one was laggy and slow to respond.

I cut a larger hole for the screen and managed to find an alternative way to hold the tablet in place. 

Because the software runs so much better, I am also able to add an external monitor (via HDMI) and use FastStone Image Viewer to play a live, updating slide show of photos taken with the photo booth.

I also rearranged how the printer fits in the case, to better manage the cables. 

I also made sure there was plenty of airflow for the tablet, since it has fans. I cut out vent holes on the lid cover (the one shown in step 5)

Now its ready for the next event!

Step 8: Setup

Picture of Setup

Here are some pics of my setup for a teen Christmas party so you can get an idea of my setup

A few things have been added that don't fit inside the case, but make for a much better experience (for me and the guests!)

1. My home printer- I normally use this because it is easier to add paper when I see it is running low with no down time- and ink will last for hours of constant use with minimum down time if I need to swap out an ink cartridge.

2.  Soft Box- I actually cheated with this one. Since the software I use does not support DSLR cameras, it does not support flash. (Although I will one day want to upgrade) I actually use two CFL bulbs. I'm using 5500K, 100 watt bulbs. Not perfect, but does the trick.

3. External monitor- I use a second piece of software (FastStone Image Viewer) on the 2nd monitor as both a  photobooth sign ( to encourage guests to use the photobooth) as well as to display the photos that are taken during the event. 

4. Props!- Every great photo booth has props!

I may try to add a curtain for a more traditional style photo booth at some point, but it works out just fine how it is. It is not a perfect setup, but I am not to worried.




Comments

theframeartist (author)2013-11-03

Great setup. This is basically exactly what I intend on doing. May I ask, what tablet do you recommend? And if you are using a tablet, what is the keyboard needed for? Thanks. Any help would be appreciated!

711dbrud (author)theframeartist2013-11-05

Thank you. I personally am using the Lenovo Yoga 13.
I would recommend any newer Win 8 tablet, but would stay away from the Atom processor, as the photobooth software can be demanding.
Of course your existing laptop will probably work fine if you are on a budget.
Windows RT, android and iPad will NOT work if you want to print (that I can find--Let me know if you find an app that works!)
Even if using a touchscreen, it may be easier to use a keyboard to set things up (folders, ect)
Also, an issue I came across is USB3. I originally bought a Surface-The USB3 did not want to work with the little printer I wanted to use, which is why I went with the Yoga.
Hope this helps a little.

711dbrud (author)711dbrud2013-11-05

Oh, and the keyboard you see in the pictures is the Yoga 13 folded into tablet mode.

theframeartist (author)711dbrud2013-11-06

The only iPad things I've found were some photobooth apps (wedding booth) that are compatible with AirPrint printers. I basically want something easy to set up and pack away, and that can print without having to do anything manually. So a Win 8 tablet without an atom processor.. and these will be compatible with the printer you selected? I'm basically at the point of deciding between iPad/airprint route, and windows/(probably better) printer route. But it'll likely come down to which option has the smoothest operation aka no manual operations necessary for printing while the photobooth is in action. Any other tips would be great.

711dbrud (author)theframeartist2013-11-13

Correction from before. You can use some iPad/Android photobooth apps, upload to dropbox/Google Drive and set up auto printing somehow, although I have not done this myself. Go to Sparkbooth.com to see if that software will work for you. It is automatic--user presses a button-software will take 3 or 4 photos and print out automatically. Breezesys.com also has software that works the same for DSLR's.

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