Impossible I-1 Camera Fix

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About: Too much to describe in one or two paragraphs. My mind's interests are all over the map. I do a lot of research and read up on many things. I've worked hard to acquire some knowledge about many things.

As many owners of the Impossible Project's first camera release know, it kind of stinks. There are some amazing features to be had, but sadly the camera has a major flaw, poor battery life. Really poor. So bad, in fact, it makes the camera basically unusable. There is a simple fix though and I'm happy to report it not only works, but works better than Impossible could've ever hoped. I believe the switch that is installed leaks current and since it's almost Impossible to get to, I just put one in line that actually does what a switch is supposed to do, act like a dam. And, it costs virtually nothing. You only need one item that you may not have, but can easily procure and some basic tools to be shooting like a crazy person. Since I'd already done this prior to posting, you're seeing the end result with pointers.

Supplies:

Soldering iron
Solder
A small switch, preferably one with two to three poles.
Some hot glue for the initial secure of the switch
JB Weld for the final step.

Step 1: Get Your Camera Out and Make Sure You Don't Have Film in It.

Get all your stuff together and know this is for the good of your paperweight of a camera.

Step 2: Step One-Take Off the Bottom Cover.

This is super easy since the cover is held on by two small screws. It'll just slide off. Be sure not to lose the screws and look out for a multi-toothed wheel that can come off on occasion. Take a pic of what things look like at this point.

Step 3: Step 2-Make a Hole for Your Switch and Solder in Said Switch.

Since I considered my camera to be a dud, I wasn't trying to make it all pretty as I worked on this. I just wanted to see if it would work. My feeling was that the primary switch was letting current pass when switched off and thus causing the short battery life. By installing a switch in between the primary and the battery, I could stop that current flow and allow the battery to stay charged.

As you move into this phase, keep in mind the red wires are where the action is. I had cut both the red and black so I could try a larger battery. It didn't fit with the new switch and tape. As long as your black line is connected from the battery to the plug, you're fine, don't cut it. Also, when doing this, try to keep the rollers and such in place. They'll move around a bit, but it's easy to place them back. And onward we go.
I used my cheapest soldering iron to burn a hole in the center of the bottom door since that's where all the action is. It stunk of melted plastic, but it worked and my little 3 pole switch fit fine. Then, I cut the RED and black lines(you may not need to cut and solder the black lines. I did since I had tried to fit a bigger battery in) from the battery with as much length left as possible. The red and black lines connect to a plug on the board, so I just needed to unplug that, cut the RED and black(if the battery black line is connected to the plug, don't cut it) lines there and get my soldering iron ready. I soldered the black wires(they were cut because I tried upgrading my battery) together and taped them since I didn't have any shrink wrap. Then I soldered the red line from the battery to the outer pole and the red line from the plug to the middle pole. I plugged it all back in and finessed the switch into the hole I'd made. After you install the switch and before sealing it up, make sure your rollers will move. Remember, you've just added some stuff to a cramped space. So manually test the top roller and make sure it rolls. If it doesn't, repack everything and try again. That was the most difficult part, but as long as you put everything back how it was and align your switch near the hole you made, you should be golden. Then you can put the cover on and use a needle or tweezers to maneuver the switch to the hole and close it all up. I needed hot glue to keep my switch in place. Ugly, but it works. Once I had everything working and knew I was good, I removed the hot glue and used some JB Weld to secure the new switch. JB Weld is available at a lot of places, it's black, and becomes hard as a rock. Plus, it's just a more clean look.

Step 4: Last Step-charge Battery and Test Switch

Normally, when you charge this camera, it's a matter of just plugging in the cord and waiting two hours. Now, however, you have a dam in the way so the new switch must be on to allow current to pass to the battery. Once it's charged, turn the new switch off until you're ready to use it. You could use your new switch as your primary, but you then can't test your power level. So I turn it off and the primary off so it behaves like it should. If I want to use it, or test the battery, I flip my new switch on and then use the primary as normal. That's it. Done. I did this project about 10 days ago and have only charged the camera once. I've taken 5 or 6 shots, used the Bluetooth and app, and I'm sitting on 5 out of 7 lights which means it's 5/7th full. Prior to doing this, I'd be at 5/7ths after 15 minutes of no use.

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    2 Discussions

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    audreyobscura

    6 days ago

    I love seeing alterations being made to instant cameras like yours. This camera looks like it's a lot of fun.

    1 reply
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    ofrayrayaudreyobscura

    Reply 5 days ago

    This one can be had new for under $50. B&H has it at 39.99 when it originally listed for $300. The battery issue that I addressed here is the primary reason this camera never took off. Some people can't stand the viewfinder, but it never bothered me. What certainly bothered me was charging it for 2 hours and only being able to take a shot or two and watching my once fully charged camera go down to 1/4 charge in 20 minutes.