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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.
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
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.
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.