Steampunk Family

the Camera case project

P.P. von Hedwig with Camera on Marscon '10 adventure

Some projects happen out of practicality, for example the need for a power supply with which to etch brass and copper.  Others, come from the desire to make a cool piece of art, like the steampunk burlesque fans. Still others come from the desire for original and swank jank , as in decoder dials and Madam von Hedwig’s pouches.  This project was motivated out of a mix of being too jaded by my digital SRL camera to use an Instamatic and being too vain to ruin fine steampunk outfits with gear so clearly of the wrong technology.

The first step was to find a lamp base that was large enough to work with my wide lens.  The idea was to be able to house the lens in a faux  brass lens and have it be wide enough to not clip the edges of the lens view mounted behind it.  I used a jig saw for the rough cutting and then tin snips followed by emery cloth for more finished edges.  Note how I cut bendable flanges for the mounting of this faux lens.

My aesthetic choice was to have the faux lens mounted in the center of the front.  To decide where this would be and the dimension of the front was to measure from the screw mount for tri pod to longest side of the camera and add a half inch for room plus the thickness of the wood I was using to build the case.  To keep the case as light as possible, but strong,  luann was my preferred material.  Luann is really to thin to fasten without finger joints, so I used scrap of ¾ stock to glue the top and side to one another.  The height of the case was set by how much space my big hands require to access the controls of my camera.

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The camera itself is mounted on an aluminum scrap out of a neighbor’s trash.  I drilled holes were every ½ inch on the center line front to back in order to give mounting options for different lenses. This in turn was screwed down to a “U” of  ½ inch plywood.  Conveniently the tri-pod mount on cameras is a standard screw size, so a 1 inch bolt with a nut and washer on it will hold the camera in place.  The screw will only go in so far, the nut and washer let me tighten the camera down with out using a short bolt.

The tripod was fairly simple, but could be tricky without a bandsaw, because of the angles in my design.  Keep in mind that the platform the camera case sits on should be large enough to be strong and keep the camera stable.  I chose a hexagon because the math was easy to work out for a three-leg mounting area. While in the picture of the test fitting the legs are held on by nails, for the finished project I used brass brazing rod sections.   The camera case is mounted to the tri pod with a bolt through the bottom of the case, a few washers between the case and tripod platform, with a nut and washer under that.  The tri-pod itself has a carrying strap attacted to one leg, the tail of which can be used to tie the legs together.

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I cut thin copper into strips folded long wise into right angle channel and glued them onto the case with Goop to masked the edges.  A simple canvas strap into homemade “D” rings fixed with scrap cooper and screws make it portable.  A black cloth hood is held in place with strips of black painted cardboard and staples, which the hood covers.  Then I mounted a brass handle to the left side so I could handhold the unit. Found and salvaged objects further decorate the case.

The Camera case The only two drawbacks I have found so far is that my access to the controls are limited, and that I often find myself desiring a flash for indoor photography.  Using a hardwired shutter remote helps by letting me shoot without having to reach in to the case. Maybe at some point a mark II camera case will address the controls issue, but before that I’ll be making a wired remote flash assembly.  Have a plan, but need to wait until I can afford a fifty-dollar part.

Perhaps my next tri-pod will look like this one we saw at an American Colonial living history outing.

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