The DIY Photobooth With Lighting Control




Introduction: The DIY Photobooth With Lighting Control

About: Al is a wearable tech entrepreneur and creator of a line of smart phone controlled LED handbags With 22 years of experience in the IT industry, Al is currently Senior Director of Info...

This is a tutorial on how to build your own Photobooth. My friend had a wedding coming up and was in need of a Photobooth. Photobooth rentals go anywhere from $500 - $1500 so we decided to do our own & hence another DIY Photobooth project was born. This one however is a little different in that it includes a lighting and LED control feature leveraging the Arduino and some custom software.

Required Components:

Printer (capable to handle 4 x 6 paper size)
HD Webcam - $50
DIY Magic Mirror/Photobooth Kit & Software ($139) or Arduino with the DIY Magic Mirror/Photobooth Software ($49)
2 Clip Lamps - $40
1 Green LED - $1
1 Red LED - $1
Optional enclosure box for the LEDs - $5
X-10 RF Transceiver TM571 - $16
X-10 Firecracker CM17A - $5
X-10 Lamp Module LM465 - $10
PVC pipe and Fabric for the Photobooth Structure - $80
Optional Photobooth Sign from Kinkos
Optional Photobooth Start Button - $20

Step 1: Building the Photobooth Structure

My friend Diego took care of this portion of the project. The Photobooth frame was built with PVC pipes and joints and his wife did a fantastic job sewing together the fabric which slips into the PVC pipe.

Step 2: The Electronics for the Lighting and LED Control

If you're good on electronics and soldering, you can do the project with an Arduino following this schematic and instructions in this manual. If you go this route, you'll build the circuit yourself with your existing Arduino and then you'd just need the DIY Magic Mirror/Photobooth Software.

You'd save yourself some time though with the DIY Magic Mirror /Photobooth kit which involves much less soldering and includes the software.

The DIY Magic Mirror / Photobooth Kit plugs into the USB port on your laptop and then it's just a matter of installing the software and hooking up the printer and monitor.

Step 3: DIY Photobooth Software

You can Google around and find lots of really good DIY Photobooth software out there. For this project though, we needed the lighting and LED control feature so I had to code it myself. I was able to leverage another project of mine, the DIY Magic Mirror. In that project, I had already written the X-10 lighting and LED control functions using Adobe Flash interfaced with the Arduino. So it was just a matter of adding some extra code for the Photobooth functionality. The other nice thing about this is that the software also doubles as a Breathalyzer so you can do a Photobooth and then check the alcohol level of your guests. Hey, it may come in handy.

The manual (see page 46) goes in to greater detail on how to setup the Photobooth software but here's the gist:

1. Run the Config program and turn on the Photobooth

2. Go to the Photobooth settings screen where you can turn on printing, turn on the X-10 control, turn on the LED control, specify the layout of the 4 x 6 photostrip (most printers these days can handle 4 x 6 photo paper). You can also create a custom logo to appear on the screen and a custom background for the Photostrip printout.

Step 4: How the Lighting Control Works Using X-10

The idea here is to automatically turn a lamp on when the Photobooth is in action and then turn the lamp off when the Photobooth is idle.

You'll need the following X-10 modules:

X-10 Firecracker CM17A - no longer made but easy to get on eBay
X-10 TM571
X-10 LM465

The Arduino sends the X-10 commands to the CM17A which then relays over RF to the TM571. The TM571 then broadcasts it out to X-10 devices which in our case is the X-10 LM465 lamp module. Ensure here you match the X-10 address on the devices with the X-10 address in the software, the default X-10 address in the software is A4.

One caution on X-10, X-10 signals do not cross over very well over different electrical circuits  (i,e, if the electrical outlets are on different circuits in your electrical breaker panel). If that is the case, then you'd need some extra X-10 signal booster hardware, you don't want to go there. To avoid this problem,  just plug both the TM571 and the LM465 into the same powerstrip and you'll be fine.

Step 5: Wiring the LED Indicators

The video explains how to wire up the indicator LEDs. The Green LED indicates when the Photobooth is idle and the Red LED indicates when the Photobooth is in use.

Step 6: The Photobooth Start Button

The Photobooth session can also be triggered by a keyboard press. Of course, we don't want to put an ugly keyboard out there. This simple button emulates a keyboard press and plugs into a free USB port.  This tutorial on Make walks you through how to do the button.

Step 7: Photobooth Saved Pictures & Lessons Learned

Overall the Photobooth was a big hit at the Wedding, it was used about 100 times. You can see some sample pictures below which were saved to the hard drive.

A few things we could have done different:

1. The Photobooth was an outdoor installation. During the day, the sun was shining through the red fabric so the pictures during the day had a bit of a red tint to them. The red tint went away when the sun went down. If we were to do it again, black fabric on the outside probably would have been better for the day time shots.

2. We had a nice printer but it wasn't a dedicated 4 x 6 printer and hence only held about 25 4 x 6 sheets at one time. So we had to periodically check the paper levels and feed in new paper. Not really a big deal but a printer with a larger 4 x 6 paper capacity would be better. We had to change the ink one time which wasn't bad.

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28 Discussions

hello this sofware look amazing one question i have photo booth software like darkroom the magic mirror software will work together?

thank you

1 reply

Great job! Can I use a dslr instead of the webcam and a flash instead of the lamps? Thanks and regards from Germany


3 replies

Hi Hermann, I'm not sure if the big button you sent will work, it would need to be a momentary switch.

Danke Hermann, sorry software only supports a webcam. I've found with an HD webcam, you get decent print outs given the size of the each photo is small but yes of course not as good as if a DSLR were there. I looked into the effort of supporting a DSLR but not so trivial as a driver would be needed to be able to access the DSLR from Adobe Flash that this program is written in.

Thanks für your quick response, Al. Another question: if I a) trigger my canon with this buzzer ( )

and connect it with your button and b) set the countdown to 10 sec. (is this possible?) would your kit give the command for printing and saving the photos?



This structure is AMAZING! I love it and the estimated cost. Did you use this more than once, or more specifically did you break it down and then put it up again. I was wondering how you got your PVC to stay connected with gluing it, if you did want to take it apart. Thank you!

1 reply

Hey thanks, on the PVC, you just use the PVC joints, you can get them at any hardware store and then just connect everything together. We actually only used this one once. We could use again though, just would need to put it back together.

Thanks for the great step by step and your insights into what worked for you.

Since you made use of other software, etc. if I get the Arduino kit and the DIY Magic Mirror software and the optional X10 component and base to lighting and USB button then does this mean all the features will be enabled using the existing software configuration and not require additional scripts or soldering, etc.?

Or did you write scripts / software to make it work? If so , is that assistance available?

Thanks again. I'm glad the project was a success for you. I have a June graduation for my daughter and this looks like a great highlight for the party.


3 replies

Hey Jim, if you get a vanilla Arduino + the DIY Magic Mirror software, then you'll need to do a little soldering, the schematic in the manual spells out the wiring.

If you go the DIY Magic Mirror / Photobooth kit route, there's no soldering involved. With either option, you won't need any extra software above and beyond the DIY Magic Mirror / Photobooth software If you go the kit route, there is a button also on the box that comes with the kit that will trigger the photobooth so you don't actually need the USB button. The USB button though is a bit slicker so it just depends on the installation type you have in mind. The USB button does a space bar keystroke.

Hope that helps, glad to help either way, just let me know if you need anything else

Thanks for the quick reply!

Looks like i will be ordering the kit today along with the X-10 for the two lights:

(1) X-10 RF Transceiver TM571 - $16
(1) X-10 Firecracker CM17A - $5
(2) X-10 Lamp Module LM465 - $10

Three weeks to countdown so need to get started.


seedstudio are out of stock of your magic mirror :(
I'm based in UK, can I purchase direct from you? Can you programme the magicmirrorphotobooth to allow guests to enter their email to get the pictures sent to them and up to a facebook page and save the emails as a database? Can you add a bill/coin payment mech so that it becomes a pay-per-use photobooth? can the layout be changed to offer photo strips or add a logo? I'm loving your magic mirror, it looks fantastic. I'm a photographer with no electronics knowledge but it would appear that your arduino device can be installed by a novice like me. would I be able to integrate it into a kiosk with a 32" touchscreen in portrait orientation?
I also like the idea of having a proximity magic mirror in a nighclub toilet where patrons can interact and maybe view a slideshow of sponsored adverts and can curl their hands to create a tube to breathalise themselves.
nice one. cheers, carl.

1 reply

Hi, sorry I don't carry any stock myself but check back with Seeed, they should have them back in stock any day now. On the Photobooth pictures, it doesn't do the Facebook posting (although it could be added fairly easily by someone with some know how of Adobe Flash Action Script 3.0) but rather right now saves the pics to the local hard drive. On the bill/coin idea, that could be done, what you've had to do is hook up a bill/coin mechanism and feed it to one of the Arduino input pins, then modify the software to start the photobooth once a payment is registered, it would take some electronics and coding knowledge though. The image will scale on a larger screen but some code mods would need to happen to touch enable it. Nice idea on the nightclub toilet, that would be a fun application. In summary, all the things you mentioned can be done as the source code is included with the purchase but you'd need some electronics know how and also would need to know how to code in Adobe Flash Action Script 3.0.

The BuyNow at the bottom of your FAQ page takes me to a paypal page saying there is a problem with your website and to let you know

2 replies

no worries. have you had chance to read my other post about software mods? cheers, carl.

hello just wondering how many of each piece of pvc did you use and what size was it.

1 reply

Hi, sorry didn't track how many pieces of PVC but you can kind of tell from the picture, the size of the PVC pipe is 1/4"


This project looks amazing!
Youve inspired me to give this a go too!
Just a quick question, if you don't with to have the arduino controlled lamp, can you just buy the diy magic mirror/photobooth kit and not do any ciruitry/ soldering stuff?
Just install the software and use the photobooth kit as is?
I would like to try out the lamp element in the future, but for now am thinking Id like to just set up the photo booth.
Do you just buy the hardware, connect via usb, run software and are able to print the photos?
Is there an automatice feature in the software that allows you to just print the images as soon as they are taken?