Introduction: Tiny Slide Shows! (by Hacking Toy Cameras)

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, than these tiny slide shows are worth 800,000 but in a very very small font. Welcome to the smallest show on Earth with an audience of one: you!

This is a neat way to check out an elegant simple mechanism and make your own photo albums at the same time. Take it around in your pocket, or give it away as a gift. And at only $0.60 a pop, you won't break your micro bank. I used this project with my students to mix photography, engineering, and hacking all in one.

  • What: Tiny Slide Shows!
  • Why: because the only thing that makes pictures of tiny corgis better is to make the pictures tiny, too.
  • Concepts: engineering, machines, photography, hacking
  • Cost: ~$0.60 for each
  • Materials:
    • Toy Click Cameras (I found mine at Party City for cheap)
    • Transparencies (printable, can be found at any office supply store)
    • Super glue
  • Tools:
    • Computer with photo editing software (GIMP is free, Photoshop trial is free)
    • Printer (with resolution of 720 dpi or higher

Time to crank out some adorable up in here!

Step 1: Open Up Your Toy!

It's like a present inside a present!

Pop off the back of one of the toy viewers and open 'er up! You can do this with your hands. You may break a connecting pin or two, but don't worry. We'll glue it together at the end.

You can see the elegance of the mechanism when you push the button down. It advances photos to be in front of the eye-piece one by one, and doesn't go backwards. All with just a couple parts! Try it out, and then take it apart carefully. You'll need the pieces when you put it back together.

Check out the photos on the wheel with a magnifying glass. Mine's batman!

Step 2: Design Your New Photo Wheel

Time to pick some pics!

This step requires a wee bit of photoshop (free trial) or some GIMP (free software). I included my template uploaded here, so you can just slide your photos in.

Here's what I did to design it.I measured the diameter of the original wheel (with Batman), and made a similar sized circle in Photoshop. I overlay a photo of the wheel so I'd know the positioning of all the pictures. I made sure to turn up the resolution to 750 dpi so that it'll look good even though it's so tiny. I took out the photos of Batman, and made a template to slide my photos in the back of our science classroom. Huzzah!

A couple notes:

  • Check your printer maximum DPI (dots per inch), and set your resolution to that. You need it high-def!
  • You have room for eight photos. Just take the template and create new layers underneath it. Size and angle your photos, and you're set!
  • Printing is in the next step. Let's go!

Step 3: Printing, Cutting, and Poking Your Wheel

Let's make an album!

I used some laser jet transparency film to print on. My first print was low resolution (which you'll see in some photos), and so I upped it so the photos would look snazzy. When you make yours with a group or with students, you can pile all the wheels on a single page which is pretty durn cost-efficient.

Cut out the wheel with scissors or an X-acto blade, and then poke out the central holes on the wheel, so that it can be placed on the spindle.

Step 4: Put It All Back Together

Place your new album back on the spindle, and put together the catch and push button. The hardest part is getting the rubber band back on, but with some time and a lot of good-natured PG cursing, most students and adults alike can do it.

Add a super glue and clamp that toy back up!

Step 5: Look at Your TINY SLIDE SHOW!


You've done it! And have made an amazing micro photo album that you can keep or gift to people. Look through the tiny magnifying viewer to see your great work! Make an album of your class, of your family, of a variety of poodles you once saw, anything! Once you get the hang of it, they're pretty amazing to make and make great gifts.

(Also, if anyone is interested in making a simple web app for people to upload photos and have it automatically put them in the template, say hello!)

Have fun, keep exploring, and I'm excited to see what you come up with!

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015