Do-It-Yourself Book Scanning is using cheap, compact cameras and Free software to scan documents and books quickly and efficiently. DIY Book Scanners can be as simple as a camera and a piece of glass or as involved as the Instructable that brought our community together.

How does it work?

Unlike traditional scanners (which are slow, buggy, and break book bindings) DIY Book Scanning is fast and gentle. DIY Book Scanning re-imagines photocopying. In essence, it is simply pointing a camera at a page, and taking a picture. To be honest, most of us use two cameras because it's twice as fast - up to 1200 pages per hour. Since we've only got two hands, we build special frames to hold the lights, cameras, and other specialized parts while we turn pages and take pictures. All those page-pictures need post-processing. We have two excellent Free software package called Book Scan Wizard and Scan Tailor to clean the pages up in just a few clicks. After that, they can be converted into the format of your choice, and read on the device of your choice.

Though designs vary substantially, DIY Book Scanners have roughly the following parts:

A picture showing the various parts of a DIY Book Scanner

  1. Lighting. Cheap cameras need a lot of light, and postprocessing is easier if the light is bright and uniform. We have setups for halogens, CFLs, and LEDs.
  2. Camera support. Cameras need to be placed opposite the page. Postprocessing is vastly easier if the cameras don't move.
  3. Platen. The platen is the "page-flattener". It is a V-shaped construction of glass, acrylic, or even Gorilla Glass. Flat pages are easier to process (and in fact, usable with no post-processing. Good input equals good output!).
  4. Cradle. The cradle holds the book, gently, and accommodates the spine of the book.
  5. Base. The base holds all the other stuff together.
  6. Electronics. Many of us build a simple system to trigger our cameras electronically using Stereo Data Maker.
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