Category Archives: making

making technical thoughts

Making real things

I've sort of been busy the past few months jumping from one project to the next without taking time to have a pause, but I've just finished my Iron cat helmet that I've been working on for a few months so it feels a good time to sit down and do a quick round up of everything I've been busy with.  I'll do a full write up of each one over the next few weeks so keep a watch out for those if you want to know more.

October and November 2016.  I was lucky to get on a series of workshops run by code liberation in conjunction with the V & A, Goldsmiths College and Machines Room.  This culminated in showing our games at the November V & A Lates. This was a great introduction for programming in Unity for me.  I got to use my Blender skills that I had been learning with my Red Robot project by building a 3D duck model for the game and I also realised how much I love making things with wood.

At the start of this year I took a six week course in using a metal working lathe at Uxbridge college.  This was a bit like being back on my BTEC again after all these years. The course wasn't amazing but I do feel a lot more confident using a lathe safely which is what I wanted .  Now I just need to work out how to get a lathe and a workshop of my own.

In January I started making what I have called #IronCat  an Iron man helmet for a Lucky arm waving cat.  the first attempt was scrapped as the pattern was too complicated when it was shrunk in size but I managed to find a simpler version.  Lots of hot glue, Papier Mache, filling,sanding and spraying later its finally finished.  Lots of mistakes in it and things I would do differently but all in all its not turned out too bad.


Inspired by this Tutorial by Frank Ippolito on the Tested Youtube channel I painted a childs face mask to be half beautiful and half horror.


I then made a wooden skeleton model kit and applied and improved the same techniques I started learning on the mask.  I was so happy with this I've already bought another Skeleton to repeat and improve on, with the aim of selling them on Etsy.


So that's that then,  oh and there was a Saturday afternoon taxidermying an Hamster in that sneaked in as well and a model car from the same website that I downloaded the skull model

It wasn't really  a conscious decision to spend so much time making physical things and not coding or playing with LEDs but I was wanting to do more solid 3D work to help me think in 3 dimensions for when working with Blender and I want to apply some of these techniques to exploring  V.R and mix this with practical effects work.


Whats next?  Well I'm hacking a Tiny Tears doll into something more interesting and fun.  This will be back to coding and raspberry Pi but also mixing in some sculpting, silicon molding and resin casting to keep up the theme of playing with real things.






Art design developer making Projects technical

What I did with Lightning data,a Raspberry Pi and Anti-static bags

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night when there is a thunderstorm happening and think "I wonder if its possible to make a digital sculpture that visualises lightning data using LEDs"?
must just be me then.

That was back in March and after lots of faffing around with wire, plastic metal and code I have made it happen, here's how.

The first thing was to see if it was actually possible and for that I had to see if the data was available, I also had to make sure they used the cloud to back up their data. There are commercial services that provide the information but they tend to be quite expensive as it is valuable for I think Insurance and similar services. I found an amateur network of people who run detectors and upload the data but they don't publish the data unless you have one of the detectors. I tried the Met office but they only publish data for lightning data for around the U.K, they publish an image file not actual data I could do anything with and there isn't enough lightning happening around the U.K for it to be interesting.

After finding lots of Flash based sites that would be either difficult or impossible to extract the Data I found the University Of Washington global map of Lightning data    A bit of poking around and it was possible to find the underlying data to work with 

Next was the technology choice.  It would be powered by a Raspberry pi and use Neopixel strips for the LEDs.  I considered  both Python and NodeJS for writing the code. Python would probably have been the better choice and I think it would have been faster and easier but I hadn't done any NodeJS for a while and I wanted to dip my toes in again so that's want I plumped for.

First part of the development was to control the Neopixels from the Raspberry Pi.  I used this Library and set to work playing with the Neopixels.

It was around this time I had the idea of using metallic anti-static bags.

The eagle eyed among you might notice that I'm  actually using an Arduino for that test

I also started to think about what the sculpture would look like.  Not straight and angular like a single fork lightning strike, not a  sphere with dots plotted on it, I wasn't going for an artistic interpretation more than a simple  data visualisation. I began to think about  the swirliness and chaos of clouds and storms and started sketching some ideas.

I eventually settled on four long strips of  Neopixels, intertwined, each strip representing one quadrant of the earth taking the point that the equator and the Greenwich meridian intersect as the centre as that seemed a sensible thing to do.  I fell into a bit of an hole learning about map projections and plotting the data onto images of the Earth using P5JS .  It wasn't really necessary for the final outcome but I wanted to check I was doing everything correctly and it felt the right thing to do.

lightning data plotted onto map of Earth

I did some prototyping in P5JS to get an idea what it would look like and to  start working with the data.

Now I knew I could control the LEDs, had an idea of what I wanted the end result to look like and I was comfortable with the data I began to pull it all together.

To stop the Neopixels just from dangling down limply I came up with the idea of using the waterproof strips that have a clear plastic covering over them, into this I pushed down a thin solid wire that I had inserted into a clear heatshrink sleeving to prevent it electrically  shorting the LEDs strips.  This was a lot harder than I had anticipated and there was a lot more swearing than i thought there would be.

These strips were then covered in sleeves  I had made by cutting and gluing anti static bags. That was also more difficult than i thought it would be,involved burning my fingers with hot glue  and I didn't really work the best way to do it until it was finished. But it kept me amused on twitter for a few evenings.

A few hours were spent wiring it all up, crimping the connectors together, then taking it all apart and doing it again properly so it would actually  work and its now finished.  It can run either with the Raspberry Pi connected to the internet and pull down updates to the data or offline if there is some data loaded.

There are still some bugs in the software that need fixing.  I want to update the code so that it automatically detects if there is a live internet connection and if not will run in offline mode. It has run successfully for several hours per day for five days at an art show for Science Museum staff.


I've already started on getting rid of the breadboard wiring for the chip that converts the output from the Pi to a voltage level suitable for the Neopixels but thats a story for another day.

PCB next to bread board with chip and wires



I'd like to exhibit it further  but don't really know how to go about that. I would love to hear from anyone who could help me with further exhibiting or  knows how I would do that.  Leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter.

So here it is running


developer making Projects silly

Poking Mangoes

It seem like half the world has gone Pokemon Go crazy. The rest of the world has just gone stupid.

In silly times like this I like to make daft things.  Mostly inspired by this

And it turns out lots of people are using the #pokemango hashtag.

I decided that Pokemango should be a real thing, because that's the sort of thing I do.  Remember I made Farting statues, this is the level I work at.

Pokemango logo


A few  technical details you might be interested in.

Its built in HTML/Javascript/CSS.

The animation of the mango is CSS. I was only going to have a single version of the animation but triggering the same animation twice in the two different CSS classes didn't seem to work. I might have a look at why that is, but having two separate animations is nicer anyway.

It could have been done in just CSS if it was intended only to work on desktop browsers and be triggered by mouse hover over the mango but it felt that to poke a mango needed a definite click and not just a hover. And i don't think that would have worked on mobile browsers any way.

Its a responsive web page so should work on both mobile and desktop browsers.

I haven't used any browser specific CSS prefixes. Its been tested on Chrome/Firefox/Safari on a mac and Chrome on a Android tablet. I haven't tested it on a iOS device because I don't have one. If it doesn't work on one of those happy to make any changes if needed. Its not tested on internet explorer because frankly i couldn't care less about that browser.

The Sentence 'Poke the mango, go on poke it'  is a web font.  I thought as though i was doing lots of other CSS I might as well throw that in there as well.

The code is up on github if that sort of thing interests you, of course its all in the web page so you can look at it on there as well.

Any way it can be found at have fun.

Art making Projects

Making a new Skull

Most people would make a papercraft skull  as a Halloween project , but I'm not most people so I made mine in April.  This isn't the first skull I have made.  The first was around two years ago, it was made of paper, cut out with scissors and glued together using Pritt Stick.  It was always my intention to add LEDs to the eye sockets to make it extra spooky but because of  the strength and quality of the build it is  a little fragile and i didn't want to destroy it.

Having gained some more experience from the Oceans Project Little boat, as well as an X-Acto knife, a cutting board and PVA glue I decided to re-visit this project and add those red LEDs. It would also be a good project to control the LEDs from a small microcontroller programmed in C that I was exploring in my last blog post.

The first step was to print the Skull onto card.  I chose 160gsm from Ryman It is thick enough to have the required strength but still easy to work with.    The Skull design is from   As well as the Skull there are a lot of other spooky/monster themed Paper craft projects to make.  It was the design I used the first time.  I looked around again and it was still my favourite to use.

The only slight quirk to this design is that there are no tabs to glue together.  All the joins are made by placing edges next to each other and using sellotape.  This means that it is important that the pieces are cut out accurately.  The only place where i went slightly wrong on this was on the jawline.  The line prints out as a very shallow 'V' but the joining piece is perfectly straight.  It looks to be a slight error caused by the resolution of the printing rather than a mistake in the deisgn.  If I built the model again I would check mating parts before cutting  to make sure they will  line up correctly when joined.

Learning from my first build of the skull I glued re-enforcing strips along the joins as I don't think the sellotape will stay stuck for too long.


Here is build in photographs.

Printed skull design
Getting ready to start


Eye holes cut out of eye sockets
Eye holes cut out of eye sockets


Centre section of face cut out
Centre section of face cut out


Eye sockets cut out
Eye sockets cut out


Eye sockets joined to centre of face
Eye sockets joined to centre of face


Forehead joined to face
Forehead joined to face
Forehead sections joined together
Forehead sections joined together


Jaws cut out and ready to join to face
Jaws cut out and ready to join to face
Jaws joined to face
Jaws joined to face
Joining rest of top of skull
Joining rest of top of skull


Bringing sections togeth to form the finished skull
Bringing sections together  to form the finished skull
Eye sockets cut out
Eye sockets cut out


Eye sockets made up, with LEDs in them
Eye sockets made up, with LEDs in them
The finished skull, also has nose attached
The finished skull, also has nose attached
Finished skull with LED eyes lit up
Finished skull with LED eyes lit up
Original paper skull (left) next to new cardboard skull
Original paper skull (left) next to new cardboard skull


All that is left now is to connect the LEDs up to a microcontroller, so they can be controlled from a switch or a sensor.  I've also downloaded another project from Ravensblight that i'm going to have a go at.

developer making technical

Going Beyond Arduino part 1

This is Part one of probably three. but that might change.

I love Arduino, you should love Arduino, we all should love Arduino. Good that's settled then. But if Arduino is so good why would I want to go away from this.

Like a lot of things I start playing with, I want to take them apart,explore them deeper and find out how they work, even if that means things get broken in the process. With Arduino that started when I started listening to the Embedded.FM podcast. If you don't listen to Embedded.FM I really recommend it, Elecia and Chris cover everything from Hacking BB8 toys, through STEM education to the control of quadcopters and satellites, with the occasional cat interview thrown in for good measure.

Right, back to Basics and a few terms explained. The Arduino is a microcontroller board. A microcontroller is a simple computer that has all the components that are normally all on separate chips and connected together on one single chip.

To make programming easier the microcontrollers on Arduino boards are pre-programmed with a bootloader. The bootloader is a small program that runs on the microcontroller to allow the code to be sent straight from your computer to the microcontroller without any additional hardware needed.

My motivation when I started with this was to completely remove the Arduino environment. This meant no bootloader, no Arduino IDE or libraries and to write the code in C.

The first step I took was to buy a ATTiny85 microcontroller. These are the chips that are found on Adafruit Gemma, they are simple and cheap enough to not have to worry if things went wrong.

After getting the ATTiny85 working I started playing with the chips on an existing Arduino board that were already programmed with the bootloader and also through up other surprises I didn't know about. I'll cover those in a future part, when I start to

Before I begin its worth mentioning that all the hardware and software I'm talking about is relevant to the Atmel AVR chips which power the majority of Arduino boards. There are some boards that use ARM or Intel chips. I haven't explored these boards yet.

To program the microcontroller without the Arduino environment two things are needed a programmer to talk to the microcontroller and software to send the code to the microntroller.

There a lots of different hardware programmers available, its possible to set up an existing Arduino board to program.
This is the one I have,
USBASP Programmer

it plugs in to the USB port, includes a cable and adapter to convert the header on the cable from 10 pins to 6 pins. The other small device in the centre of the cable is a breadboard adapter from Adafruit that makes using the programmer with breadboard easy.

Searching for usbasp on ebay will turn up loads of these, some the bare boards and some in the nice green enclosure like mine.

The software needed to send the programs from your computer is called AVRDUDE. There might be other software for doing this but I'm not aware of any.

For installing AVRDUDE Limor Fried (Lady Ada of Adafruit) has tutorials for Windows, Mac and Linux. 

I installed AVRDUDE by installing Crosspack as suggested.

Its worth having a read of all of Lady Ada's AVR Programming tutorial. I found it really useful.

So thats the beginning covered, the chips,the hardware and the software. Next time we'll build a simple circuit and program the ATTiny85 using the USBASP programmer and AVRDUDE.

making Projects

Making a small boat

Last year I volunteered at the first Technopop festival in East London for three weekends.  The first two weekends was helping teach kids to program in Scratch and build and program Robots.  On the last of these weekends I was stood next to a boat,  that might sound boring but its not just any boat.


The boat in question belongs to Sarah Weldon of Oceans Project, Sarah is aiming to row around the U.K a challenge named The Great British Viking Quest  As well as rowing around the coast of the U.K Sarah will be documenting her progress with wearable technologies and using an online learning platform to communicate STEM (Science,Technology,Engineering and Maths) subjects to students all around the world.



All the time Sarah will be collecting data as part of her PhD research into 'effects of calorific stress on the neuro-cognitive performance on ocean rowers'.

It was really cool to talk to Sarah at Technopop festival and find out all about the rowing.   I really liked the technology aspect to the expedition and was  impressed by all the planing and preparation she has to do for the trip.

Skipping  forward a few months I have started to become interested in paper model making and am trying to build a model McLaren P1 Car from a kit .  Lets say its going quite badly at the moment.  I've already scrapped the first two versions of it so decided to take a break before trying again.  But had become interested in the process of turning a 3D model into a Papercraft version.  Also wanting to learn how to use Blender  to create 3D models,knowing that Sarah had just launched her Kickstarter to raise the funds for the expedition and wanting to support her  I had an idea.  I would make a Papercraft model of her boat.

Creating the model in Blender wasn't too hard.  There are a few ways of doing it but by far the simplest is to start off with a cube and then stretch,extrude and add faces and edges as needed.  Its not perfect replica but I didn't want to make it too complex knowing that it would be being turned into a paper model, so wanted to keep it nice and simple.

When it came to turning the 3D model into a paper model I knew of  PepaKura would do the job but thats Windows only and I use a Mac.  Fortunately while learning Blender I found the plug in system so wondered if there was a plug in that would do the same  and there is 

After exporting the model to create the Paper mesh I used Illustrator to scale it up and then split into three pieces to make it a decent size and fit onto a single A4 piece of paper.

It took about three prototypes altering the tabs and tidying up a few details before I was happy with it and send to Sarah.



The model is now available on the Oceans Project Website   Why don't you download one, make it and decorate and send the results to Oceans Project.

It would be great if you too supported The Great British Vikings Quest by backing the  Kickstarter for the project.




making silly technical thoughts

Real Cloud Storage

A few days ago I twittered the tweet above, or is it tweeted the tweet? I don't know, anyway it doesn't matter. What does matter is that is the odd sort of thought that goes through my head. Wouldn't it be interesting to send digital data to the clouds. Both the data in our computer and the clouds in the sky are both somehow ephemeral and yet long lived . We see the data only because it is represented on our screens by glowing pixels,turned on or off. That data could have been around for months or years. Data we think can easily be deleted may be out of our control stored in far off servers, the cloud.
The water vapour that forms the clouds changes form all the time, falling as rain into the seas and oceans, flowing through rivers and streams. The clouds may last only a few seconds the water lives on.

A few month ago the Daily mail published an article trying to explain the leak of snapchat data. And in the article they used the explanation that 'the cloud' is 'not an actual cloud' Don't worry that's not a link to the Dail Mail.

But what if it was possible to store data in the clouds? Why shouldn't it be. Not having to rely on energy hungry data centres, never knowing if our data is safe or not, not having the worry of not knowing who might have unauthorised access to our private photos or documents would be great.

So I propose the following idea, its beta at the moment.

The Cloud making machine would be something like this:

The arduino would take the data from the computer and control a fan to send long and short pulses of clouds out of the machine. I was thinking of Morse code as it is easily encoded and would be suitable for the low bandwidth.

Reading the data back from the cloud may be difficult, but hey at least its secure.

making Projects technical

Laser cutting objects that don't exist

You may remember last week, the sun still wafted around in the sky,the light evenings  felt like they would go on forever.  Or you may remember  last weeks blog post  about 3D Printing an object discovered  via @museumbot .

That last project was all about turning a photo of a real object back from its digital representation into a real object again and looking at the transformation it went through.

I knew I wouldn't have time to do the next part of that project adding the detail of the face and changing the thicknesses to match the original more closely this week, but it did get me thinking about the idea of taking things that don't really exist and turning them into physical objects.

Rather than 3D print objects I wanted to laser cut something with the laser on Laser Level Advisor, mostly this was because of wanting to put into practise the training I had, had on the laser cutter at Machinesroom.  Its ok being taught how to use something, but you don't really learn until you have a go. The two photographs that came to mind also leant themselves to being laser cut rather than a 3D print.

The first photograph is  of a leaf,but not really a leaf.  I''m not sure exactly what the process is that happened but recently as I set off for work to the Science museum I noticed several 'imprints' of leaves on the pavement. There was nothing left of the leaf except for a brown mark where it had once been.

leaf mark on pavement
leaf mark on pavement

The second was a photograph from twitter taken by Katy Barrett @SpoonsOnTrays of a shadow taken on a sunny day at the coast in Norfolk.


Photograph of a Shadow by Katy Barrett
Photograph of a Shadow by Katy Barrett

I found this photograph really interesting, the pattern of holes in whatever object that is casting the shadow, the sand and pebbles, the sea that can only be seen in the shade of the object.

For both photographs although it is possible laser etch straight from photographs I chose to draw outlines in the same way I had done for the 3D printing of the Pendant.  I knew I couldn't draw the items exactly but I wasn't trying.  Zooming into the photograph of the leaf showed on oddly digital texture as the imprint had become defined by the dimples on the paving slab.  The edges are a lot harder to follow than when looking at the image from further away. Trying to decide what constitutes the outline of the leaf and what is just the dirt on the pavement was difficult

The shadow on the beach was similar. The lines of the shadow seem really well defined when first looking at the photograph but again when zooming in, they are much softer and difficult to follow,being broken up by the contours of the sand,pebbles and the ripples of the water.

For each of the photographs I realised that if I repeated the process of tracing the outlines they would come out differently for each one, I would never end up with the same outline twice. That was ok, it was never about creating an exact copy of the photograph but looking carefully at the lines and choosing what I wanted the shapes to be and being happy with whatever the result was.


Memory of a leaf. Lasercut in 3mm Birch plywood
Memory of a leaf. Lasercut in 3mm Birch plywood


Lasercut of Shadow. 3mm Birch plywood
Laser cut of Shadow. 3mm Birch plywood

As with the 3D printing the Laser cutting was done at Machines Room Limewharf  .  If you are wanting to learn about 3D Printing,Lasercutting it is a great place to go.


I won't be making anything solid for a few weeks.  Will be busy at Technopop London volunteering mostly on the Vex Robotics workshops, so bring you kids and lets build robots together, because building robots are cool.





making museums Projects technical

3D print from a tweetbot

There are a lot of museums looking at how objects in their collections can be scanned and 3D Printed.  There are  reasons for this, most of them very serious,academic and scholarly.

The small project I have been working on is a lot less serious but still has a worthwhile reason behind it.  Just as my Farting statues App was a exploration of taking the objects in a collection, mixing them with information from Wikipedia adding in  Android code and coming up with something silly and frivolous.  This is a exploration of  turning  the output of a museum API into a 3D printed object.  I was interested in how the object would transform and change as it went through the processes of turning from a Physical object, into digital data and back into a physical object albeit in a modified form.

The project was inspired by this guardian article on twitter  bots, the interest in that comes from my current work project making the satellite X3Prospero tweet.

One of the bots in the article was @MuseumBot  this is a bot written by Darius Kazemi (@tinysubversions)  it takes the open access images that are made available by  the Met Museum, tweets an image along with a link to the page on the met museum website.

After following this bot, there was an image that was tweeted that took my interest



There was just something I found  interesting about the object,also the quite detailed but well defined outline made me think straight away that would be interesting to 3D Print, and thats how this started.

Not really knowing what to do  but knowing it is possible to build 3D models from photographs that was my first avenue of investigation.  Yes it is possible but it requires multiple photographs  taken at different angles.  I only had the one photograph taken at one angle.

From then my next was to see what I could do with the outline of the object. I realised that it wouldn't be possible to get all the detail of the face of the figurine  in the print, at least not in the first iteration of it.

I Started off following this article  but using Adobe illustrator to turn the image into a SVG file.  The output from the automatic outline feature of Illustrator was quite poor.  It was probably because of the shading and highlighting on the object.  So it was time to bite the bullet and do it myself.  This took around six hours, working at a high magnification and going very slowly.  This process did highlight  a problem with the image. It is not perfectly straight on at the top face, the outline shows some of the side edges.  Not sure what the technical term for that is, it probably has one.

I made the decision to ignore that problem and rather than try to guess what the actual outline should be just go around the outline as it is on the photograph.

The first time doing the import into 123D Design didn't go well.  It showed up a mistake made in the outlining process. Rather than creating a single outline I had inadvertently created hundreds of very small lines. A newbie Illustrator mistake.  So had to spend around another six hours joining up all the tiny lines.

The import into 123D Design was much better this time. All I had to do then was to scale the model to approximately the same size as the actual object and export the STL file for printing.

The Printing was done at Machines Room  on their Ultimaker 2 printer.  All I had to do was import the STL file into the Ultimaker Cura software and export a GCode file for the printer.

Printing was simply a Copying the gCode file on to a SD card, putting the card into the printer,selecting the file and pressing print.   The printer takes a few minutes to warm up and there is a little of the PLA oozes out as it reaches temperature, that just needs to be supported away from the print base to stop it from getting onto the print as it starts.


Once it has done started printing and been running a few minutes its ok to leave it running until it completes, so I went for a coffee and waited.

It was all straight forward, it took around one hour to print and then around ten minutes to leave to cool on the bed of the printer to prevent it from warping as it cooled.




Whats next?

I would really like to add in the face and its features.  The current design is a single thickness , I would like to make the thickness of the different parts of the object must closer to the actual object.

One interesting thing that I had not considered was the material transformation.  It was printed in yellow because that was what the printer was loaded with at the time and was close to the gold in look.  Two people I showed it to suggested gilding it or coating with gold leaf.  After thinking about this for a while I have decided not to.  The shape of the object has changed through the process, the material has changed, I don't see any need to pretend that it is the same material as the original, I think that is an interesting part of the story.

The file for printing is now on Thingiverse , so if you want to print out this object or play around and transform the model in any way, feel free.  If you do let me know what you happens,  am interested.












making Projects

Making the Lomography Konstruktor Camera

I'm not a professional photographer or a photography enthusiast of any sort.  If you look at any of the photos of mine on this blog you'll probably agree that I'm actually quite bad at photography. Neither am I a trendy London  Hipster hanging out in Shoreditch with a vintage camera around my neck.

So you'd think then that i'm not a likely customer for a new Camera from Lomography, but what I did enjoy doing when I was a kid was building plastic airfix models. My mum bought me a RAF bulldog trainer aeroplane, which when it was built was probably more glue than plastic, but I was so proud that i made it.  My all time favourite was the Spitfire  built when my gluing and painting skills had progressed to a reasonable level and I could daub the paint on well enough for it to not look horrendous. My other favourite was the SR-71 Blackbird, just because its a cool aeroplane.

I love making things, taking things apart and finding out how they work so when I heard that Lomography were releasing the Konstruktor a  35mm film camera  kit I ordered 1 straight away.  I've been so busy with work and other projects that I've not had chance to sit down and build it until now.


The box says it takes 1 - 2 hours but I'm always a bit sceptical of things like that, especially as I prefer to go slow and steady so I wasn't too worried about how long it would take.

On opening the box I was really impressed how well packaged everything is.  All the major components are separated out and easy to identify. Before starting I wanted to double check that everything was present.


There is a really good manual that details the build step by step, the diagrams in it are clear and accurate. Sadly there isn't a list of parts, but this isn't a major problem.

All the small  parts that are on the plastic frames are easy to identify as they are numbered and the larger parts are easy obvious from the diagrams in the manual. There are a few that fall between the two that are in plastic bags or small cardboard boxes. It would have been nice to have some identification on this packaging, but as the diagrams in the manual are nice and clear this didn't give any problems.

I was a little worried when I looked at the small parts on the plastic frames as there appeared to be some parts missing, but reading through the manual the identifiers for those parts weren't used so I presume that this was down to the tooling used or for future changes.

As well as the camera parts there are two more important things in the box.  A small bag of screws and springs and a screwdriver with a magnetic tip. Having the magnetic tip made the build so much easier,  would have really struggled without it.

There are three types of screws in the bag, so i emptied the bag into the lid of the box and separated the screws.  There are also two very tiny springs.  The springs are easily lost so be careful with them.

There are a lot more screws than you actually need which was nice. Either that or my camera is actually missing a LOT of screws.

The build starts off easily with the Lens assembly and the hood viewfinder. Making these two parts are a good introduction to the entire assembly process.  For each stage I  would recommend the following.

Read the assembly instructions in the manual and look at the diagram together.

Using the diagram identify all the parts needed.

Remove any of the parts needed from the plastic frame. I recommend using scissors to cut the plastic rather than trying to bend them off.

Double check that you have the correct parts. Some parts are similar and they are mostly all black.

Assemble carefully. Make sure you are both using the correct part and it is orientated correctly. Some parts have features at each end that are similar but different.

When the components are assembled, check everything is correct and then screw together using the correct screws.


The Completed Lens 


The  hood Viewfinder assembly


After the  hood Viewfinder and Lens it was on to the winding mechanism. The orientation of the spring and the components is important as is the order of assembly.


Remember the tiny springs I mentioned earlier, now is the time to use it.  One is a spare which I needed to use as I damaged the first one.  Make sure you have the component with two spoke coming off of it the correct way around.  I didn't initially which meant after successfully mounting the spring I had to take it off again, re-position that component and then re-mount the spring.

The first spring was damaged because I tried to use the screw driver to hook it over the pin. On the second attempt I used a piece of thin stiff wire which made it much easier.


That entire spring saga took around half an hour and was the most difficult part of the build.

The rest of the build is quite simple but with one thing to watch out for.  The  Light Chamber assembly comes pre-assembled.  At the top of it is a mirror that shows the image.  It appeared to be covered in blue plastic to protect it, but I couldn't find any reference to removing the blue plastic in the instructions and didn't want to remove it in case it was supposed to be left on.


After finishing the camera I had a another flick through the manual and discovered the section at the back that explains how the Light Chamber works and how to take it apart and re-assemble it if you want.  It is here that it tells you to remove the blue protective plastic.

I loved that there is a section in the manual explaining how something works and how to take it apart if you want.  I wish all products had that.

So after another bit of disassembly and faffing about the camera was finished.


The entire process took around 4 hours including a couple of coffee breaks.  I'm not fast at this sort of thing and wasn't in any hurry. I would recommend that you have somewhere clean, tidy and well lit if possible.  Because of the small pieces I would also try and do everything in one sitting as there is the possibility of things getting lost if the partially constructed camera and parts have to be tidied away.

It is really rewarding to make a finished physical product that can be used, rather than something that is a prototype or hack with limited real world use for a change.  The kit is really well made and thought out.  If you do like making things or want to understand how cameras work a bit more I would really recommend buying this kit.  Some of the parts are a bit small and fiddly but take your time and be patient, most people should be able to make this in a afternoon.

Next step is to  put some film in the camera and take photos.