Apple Airport Photo Flashgun Diffuser




About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and sh...

Apple went through this phase where they would use a white lined acrylic for all there products. It was great for letting light through, which they even used to that effect with the status lights in the iMacs of the time.

I have made a lot of flash diffusers in the past, using anything I could get my hands on, from old milk bottles to marscapone pots. They all do a great job, but they don't last 2 minutes when out in the field. I saw this old Apple Airport laying around at Nottingham Hackspace and it immediately hit me that it would make a great solid long lasting flash diffuser.

The results are great, heres how to make your own.

Step 1: Remove the Internals.

This Airport is really easy to open up. There are three screws on the bottom which once removed allow the entire thing to split in two. The actual guts of the airport are all enclosed in a nice metal shell, you can just lift this out and put it to one side.

The white plastic around the ports is a separate piece, but is held in place with one of the screws. So easy to add back in later.

Step 2: Mark and Drill Corners

Once I had peeled off the info sticker on the under side of the bottom half the residual glue was enough to stick on a scrap of paper.
I then placed the front end of my flashgun onto the centre and drew the outline.

I then found a drill bit that roughly matched the corner radius I had drawn.

Carefully stack up some scraps of wood under the plastic and drill out the four corners.

Step 3: Drill Along Edges

Next, to make it easier to get the middle section out so that I could smooth the edges, I picked out a smaller sized drill bit and followed the edge around drilling out as many holds as I could fit in.

Assuming the holes are close enough together you can easily cut the remainder with a stanley knife or boxcutter.

Step 4: Trim and Sand/file the Hole

This plastic was actually really easy to work with, some plastics can be a pain and shatter easily. However I was fairly rough with this.

Having ran my knife around the edge of the original outline it was really easy to push the knife down to trim off the excess to the right shape.

I could then easily test fit the hole against my flashgun and trim a little more off as needed.

Finally I use a small file to smooth off the edges.

Step 5: Reapply the Underside Sticker.

For the sake of appearances I took the sticker that was on the bottom inverted it and reattached using double sided tape.

Step 6: Foil the Rear Side.

The next step is to use Aluminium Ducting Foil tape to cover just the rear part of the Airport. This helps to direct all the light forwards towards where the photo subject will be.

This stuff can be a bit tricky to work with, but working in small sections allows you to get the job done. Any holes or tears can be easily patched up after.

At this point I placed the white plastic port cover in place and used to tape to stick it and hold it in place. It doesn't need to be perfect, because the screw we will be putting back in holds it in place.

Once done trim off the excess around the edge and in the middle hole.

I then took the time to smooth it all down.

Step 7: Reassemble to Finish.

Finally reassemble the two halves and put the original three screws back in. Make sure not to over tighten the screws as the holes are only made from plastic.

I found placing the diffuser about 10mm onto the end of the flash worked best, if you push it too far on then the flash ends up right up against the front, which doesn't make full use of the diffuser.

The diffuser works a treat, its probably the best build quality of any flash diffuser I have used. It creates a nice big diffused light that looks great in eye reflections. Plus you are up-cycling a non working outdated bit of tech.

Have you got a diy flash diffuser that you use for your photos? Get an instructable up! We can never have enough flash diffusers.



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    5 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know what an Apple Airport is, but I'm gonna be looking for one, because this looks like a terrific plan.


    6 years ago

    Love it


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Small thing: I think apple used polycarbonate in this, not acrylic: acrylic is the one that shatters easily, polycarbonate is easy to work with.