Camera Challenge: Update 1

Day one, or the design phase of my ‘Can I build a working wet plate camera in a week’ challenge (For the first post click: LINK).

For CAD design I’m using Google Sketchup 7 (There is a version 8, however 7 has DXF export for free while for 8 it’s an upgrade), CamBam to attach cut operations to the parts, OpenSCAM to simulate the cuts and my 2x4Oko for the actual milling (which is a modified ShapeOKO scaled up to nearly a 2×4′ work table).

Quarter Plate in Sketchup

Quarter Plate in Sketchup

In Sketchup, where to begin? I want the camera to shoot Quarter Plates, so that’s a good place to start. I’ll design around what I want to shoot which is the Quarter Plate (3 1/4 x 4 1/4″). Here it is, set and locked. Now to build a holder around this plate.

What’s going to be the problem? First off, it needs to be completely light tight. I need to be able to prepare the plate in my darkbox and then place it into a holder under safelight conditions. From there it gets walked in the bright sun to the camera. Once connected with the camera the darkslide is pulled out and that exposes the plate to the image projected from the lens.

I also need to be able to place the plate into the holder from the back side. I suppose I could load a plate into the holder from the sliding tab front, but I would have to make some sort of a system where the plate cut-out could be removed. I think it would be easier to just make another sliding tab or a hinged door. The plate will need pressure from the back so that it stays in the plate cut-out while traveling to and from the camera.

Quarter Plate holder w/ Dark Slide

Quarter Plate holder w/ Dark Slide

Here’s a quick mock-up of the plate holder and the front dark slide. This is the view from the back of the camera. The plate is actually face down, the emulsion side is facing the dark slide which faces the lens once attached to the camera.

I still need to create a hinged door system that is light tight and then break down each frame into strips. Or I may just cut from larger width hardwood stock. Lots of options still at this point. And this is only the plate holder, this still needs to attach to a camera and I will need to make another frame with a ground glass to focus the camera. At least the ground glass part won’t need a hinged back door. That’s a plus.

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