Advice on making a rugged photo booth in a public street
November 15, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

What pieces of technology and equipment would you use to build a rugged, public, 24 hour, photo booth on a public street in a large city? This isn't a commercial project so I'm trying to come up with a creative and cheap solution.

I need to clarify a bit here as well. I'm not planning on putting a physical box on the street. Instead the idea is to have a camera behind a grill or letter slot on a public street with a single button and some simple instructions. Probably with some perspex over the camera so that it doesn't matter if someone sprays it or stabs something at the lense.

A detached flash up high would also be part of the idea but might end up being too expensive and maybe hard to control depending on the type of camera I use.

Current thoughts are to use a Canon Powershot SD1000 with an Eye-Fi card set to automatically upload the shots to an FTP server. The Canon doesn't support remote control of the shutter so perhaps I could build a mechanical switch with a simple servo to physically depress the shutter after a 3 second delay. I already own the Canon. Might there be a decent quality web camera that would do the trick? Maybe there is a cheap point and click that you know of that I could remote control? I'm just at the planning stages so would really welcome some ideas and I just know that there are probably some pieces of technology that I'm unaware of that might be perfect.
posted by aychedee to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm just thinking you might want to somehow enforce a delay between shots to avoid having someone just stand there, pressing the button a hundred times.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:12 AM on November 15, 2010

You might look into CHDK firmware for that camera. Instead of building a mount and a servo setup, you can pretty easily use the USB Remote functionality in CHDK to add remote shutter capability to your camera. They even have a pretty simple homemade cable design you can reference or build. The wiki says your camera is supported.
posted by aaronbeekay at 11:28 AM on November 15, 2010

Maybe there is a cheap point and click that you know of that I could remote control?

I'd be concerned that a consumer camera would be very tempting to thieves and does not offer remote control. If I had to do this on the cheap and assuming I had wifi access I'd probably buy a sheevaplug computer and attach a webcam onto it. You'll need to learn some linux scripting for any automatic actions and you can remote into it via ssh or even use the GUI with VNC or NX. I'm not 100% sure how you could get a button to work, but imagine a usb game controller can be mapped to the capture function via some scripting trickery.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:43 PM on November 15, 2010

Thanks everyone, I use linux and have even installed the CHDK firmware on that camera. So these are great suggestions. I didn't realise it enabled remote control.

I was definitely thinking about enforcing a 3 second delay. But I'm not too worried about that because the card has an automatic delete function on the stuff that it has already uploaded. So the card shouldn't fill up and the server space is going to be huge. Part of the appeal for people should be that five seconds after they get their photo taken it's live on a web site. Random vandalism is definitely a worry because this is a pretty ropy area of London.

I am seriously considering something like a sheevaplug and a webcam. Can you recommend one that has a high enough resolution to look alright?
posted by aychedee at 1:36 PM on November 15, 2010

I have a couple of these and love them, but I used them on Windows 7. Not sure if there are linux drivers yet.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:55 AM on November 17, 2010

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