Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

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Peyo61
Posts: 4
Joined: 11 Apr 2017, 15:02
Number of books owned: 0
Country: The Netherlands

Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by Peyo61 »

Hi everyone,

When I finally decided to scan a bunch of books to read on my iPad (I think I stopped buying physical books 10 years ago, so it was about time...), my initial reaction was: "buy one". It did not take long until I started scanning (...) the internet for a DIY design instead !

This site is amazing, and gave me a lot of inspiration. But I did not want a bulky object which would stretch my limited DIY talents for hours and hours to build it.

So I went for a minimalist design:
- very small footprint
- very light to move around
- easy to store away
- maybe even easy/quick to unmount/remount if necessary
- does a good job at scanning textbooks (art books not a priority)

The main idea behind the design is to take advantage of modern phones and the wonderful little apps which let you scan pages without even touching a button, or paying too much attention to how well positioned you are, or even how stable your hand is.

I'm using Scannable on iOS (but I'm sure there are others), and it's amazing:
- auto-detects the edges of your page, as soon as you kind-of stop moving your hand
- ortho-rectifies immediately: makes your page properly rectangular, so no need to be perfectly aligned in front of the page
- auto-adjusts lighting and contrast
- this last stage even gets rid of glass glare if any

Once this was understood, the device design followed. I did not mind sacrificing a little ergonomy for hitting all my requirements, so I went for a non-fixed glass plate that you have to lift up and down manually. And thus mounted with wood which makes the whole device lighter and more comfortable to the hand.

Here it is:
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The main body is:
- one sheet of 55x70 cm MDF
- cut to 6 rectangular pieces (no fancy shapes, told you I'm limited)
- mounted using 16 screws

The glass plates:
- 2 rectangular plates
- edges filed/sanded
- glued on ready-made wooden shelf supports

Costs:
- MDF = under 10 euros, including getting it cut by the shop
- ready-made wooden shelf supports = 10 euros
- screws = a couple of euros
- plates = 40 euros, cut and glued by a professional glass shop (did not want to mess that one up)

So the only work I had to do was mount 16 screws in the proper places (yay).

How does it operate ?
1- start the Scannable app on your phone
2- place the book on the main body
3- place the glass plates on the opened book, the glass weight is enough to hold everything in place
4- hold the phone rather steady, rather in front of the left page, the app takes the picture and works its magic
5- same for the right page
6- put the phone down, lift the glass plates, turn page
7- back to step 3 (and pickup the phone again)

Yes, it's less ergonomic than the fixed-mounts designs, but the light weight makes it easy enough. And it's rapid enough for me.

And the end quality is very good. Not professional-publication-good, but good for my need which is to bring my favourite books to my iPad, and read them very comfortably.

Some further considerations:
- you can easily achieve 2 pages in 10 seconds, and that's mainly because you wait for the app to do all the magical corrections
- so we're talking 600 pages per hour (with a couple of 5-mn breaks !)
- depending how stable your hand is, the app will mess up the edges auto-detect once in a while; since you immediately see it, just take another scan
- from the app you send yourself a PDF with all the pages; simply throw away the messed up pages, and touch up pages you feel MUST be touched up (no need really)
- glass glare is simply not a problem, thanks to the app; you will want semi-decent lighting conditions nonetheless, to give the app a chance to work quicker
- the app really shines for text-and-diagrams pages, for full color pictures the glass glare will be a problem unless you have great lighting and experience

That's it, now I'm going back to scanning my backgammon books collection.
glenleslie
Posts: 30
Joined: 13 Aug 2012, 09:08
E-book readers owned: Kindle - multiple platforms
Number of books owned: 1000
Country: United States

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by glenleslie »

Could you just add a metal door hinge (Or smaller) on the far end of the glass, screwed into the wood support. Then you could just rotate the glass up to and flip the page?

Also maybe an arm extending straight up on the side close to you (opposite the hinge) and then a small piece of wood at 90 degrees (mounted pointing away away from you) on top-- a cheap but stiff phone case mounted on this small piece of wood to extend the phone's camera lens out over the edge of this small piece of wood.

The arm could be mounted via a single heavy bolt (with metal washers in either side) into the center of the bottom of the frame. Mount small blocks of wood on the outside of the frame to stop the rotation of the arm at 45 degrees to the left and 45 degrees to the right.

The arm would have to be long enough to allow the rotation of the glass on the hinge.

Maybe some closed eyelets with wood threads and one small (10-12 cm) bungee cord on either side of the arm to hold the board straight up at rest and to give some buffer against the arm moving too rapidly left or right when pushed. The eyelets would be mounted left and right side at a distance to be slightly tight at rest and then provide resistance in either direction as the arm rotates to 45 degree position.

May try this this weekend. Let's see.

I've been following this site for 7 years and chickened out buying the 4th(? I think) generation precut DIY scanner because it was USD300 at the time. Kicking myself ever since.
Peyo61
Posts: 4
Joined: 11 Apr 2017, 15:02
Number of books owned: 0
Country: The Netherlands

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by Peyo61 »

Thanks for your comments and your suggestions.

However the things you suggest are what I REALLY did not want. Absolutely minimalist yet usable is the idea. And it really is easy to use without more contraptions: you simply lift the glass with one hand (very light), flip the page with the other, lower the glass again. It's probably even quicker than a fixed rotating system (which, again, I did not want in the design).

Yes, you have to put down the phone and pick it up again. But since the whole idea is to NOT have fixed mounted cameras, and make use of those clever auto-capture apps, this is a non-issue. And the app is really the winner here, since in 1 or 2 seconds it auto-frames and snaps the page.

Thanks anyway for your ideas.
glenleslie
Posts: 30
Joined: 13 Aug 2012, 09:08
E-book readers owned: Kindle - multiple platforms
Number of books owned: 1000
Country: United States

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by glenleslie »

Peyo61 wrote: 18 Mar 2022, 22:30
Yes, you have to put down the phone and pick it up again. But since the whole idea is to NOT have fixed mounted cameras, and make use of those clever auto-capture apps, this is a non-issue. And the app is really the winner here, since in 1 or 2 seconds it auto-frames and snaps the page.
Thanks very much for your reply.

Have you made any updates in the intervening time?

How many books have you scanned with this device? Any sample outputs? I have much the same use case... being able to take books with me easily and read electronically.
Peyo61
Posts: 4
Joined: 11 Apr 2017, 15:02
Number of books owned: 0
Country: The Netherlands

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by Peyo61 »

I considered many little tweaks, including your suggestions. But in the end I am absolutely satisfied with the super-simple design, so no mods at all eventually.

I scanned a dozen books, mostly backgammon and other game strategy books which are typically 22x15x4cm, that type of books which are impossible to flatten for scanning (unless you destroy the binding). And 2 sci-fi pocket books, which are smaller but also impossible to flatten.

The design works so well for those, since you get zero distortion due to the glass plates pushing down on them. At the cost of having to lift-and-lower the glass, but once you get the hang of it it becomes second-nature.

The key is the phone app, as I explained. It "wastes" 1 or 2 seconds for each page snap, but you regain the time and more later. No need for any other processing than putting the images together and print as PDF. And use your favourite PDF size optimizer to keep the file size reasonable.

Send me your email address in a PM and I'll send an example (with comments). And the "blueprint" of the wood pieces with correct sizing if you want.
TS Zarathustra
Posts: 21
Joined: 03 Feb 2019, 06:17
E-book readers owned: Kindle 4. Kindle paperwhite 2014, Kobo Aura One
Number of books owned: 999
Country: Netherlands

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by TS Zarathustra »

Interesting KISS design.
I tried Scannable some years ago. I had to stop using it because Finance felt the quality of the photos was not acceptable for Concur expense reports.
How good is the quality today?
Do you have some examples?
Peyo61
Posts: 4
Joined: 11 Apr 2017, 15:02
Number of books owned: 0
Country: The Netherlands

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by Peyo61 »

Send me a PM and I'll send a dozen pages as example.

I'm not trying hard at all to keep my hand super-steady, and the results for text-and-diagrams books is just fine (to my eye).

I suppose I would not use Scannable for art books, maybe. But it's not the only such app out there, I did not research the field since years but surely that type of software has improved like everything else.

One thing to repeat: the fact that my orthogonal-mounted glass plates push the book down reduces enormously the distortions, thus making the software's job to un-distort very easy (and great results as a consequence).
glenleslie
Posts: 30
Joined: 13 Aug 2012, 09:08
E-book readers owned: Kindle - multiple platforms
Number of books owned: 1000
Country: United States

Re: Minimalist inexpensive design - 60 euros, 60 mn to build, 600 pages per hour

Post by glenleslie »

TS Zarathustra wrote: 07 Apr 2022, 04:51 the quality of the photos was not acceptable for Concur expense reports.
interesting. our concur is setup so that you register an email address you'll send receipt pictures "from" in the Concur system for your profile. Then you just snap a photo with phone and email it to a companywide email (your source email routs it to your expense management login). I've used the lowest res on a phone camera and never had an issue... this whole process is one of the signature features of Concur.
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