Cast, Mold, and Mill an Aluminum Camera from Scratch

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Cast, Mold, and Mill an Aluminum Camera from Scratch

Cameras are quite fascinating little boxes of magic. Light goes in and does fancy stuff to end up captured as an image on film. That’s pretty much the extent of my understanding of the process. Lucus Anders on the other hand understands the process very intimately as he creates cameras from scratch. People have been building cameras since… well, the creation of cameras I guess, but I haven’t seen one done quite like this.

Warning: sometimes Lucus cusses and makes off-color jokes in his videos.

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Here we get to see the camera that he’ll be building. It is a considerable step up from the wooden cameras he has previously built.

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To start things off, he needs to mold and cast some parts. Interestingly, he’s using a 3d printer for his prototyping, so you can learn a thing or two about 3d printing for cast aluminum parts.

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The body is constructed from bent and brazed aluminum. He does take an interesting first pass of creating deep grooves on a mill before bending, allowing his body to be much thicker. He also uses a common machinists trick that might be interesting to those who haven’t seen it. He attaches the cone by using a temperature difference in the pieces, just check it out.

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In this part he’s back to pouring aluminum. Once he’s got his rough shape created, it goes over to the mill for refinement.

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Lenses are probably the most complex part of this camera. This is also one of the few parts that Lucas doesn’t create on his own. There’s plenty to learn here, even if you never want to build your own camera.

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I never would have imagined that welding would be involved in making a camera in a home shop, but here it is!

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Now that he’s built the major components, it is time to go back and start making the little stuff.

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The camera needs a door so that he can load the film. Here, he goes through the process of constructing that, plus the hinge.

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And there you go! There’s a camera, built from scratch. The results are pretty impressive too.

If you want to see more pictures and follow along with Lucu65ewrdes in his future projects, check out his site.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft

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