Archivers Quill - Book Scanner

Darren Wright

Staff member
Springfield, Missouri
I'm trying to get back to scanning family photo albums, we've got well over 100 of them to go through here, more at the farm and her mom's place. Last time I was using my DSLR camera on a tripod with a couple of cfl lights on the sides, and a board for lining up the shots. It was slow and tedious doing one page at a time and fighting glares from the lights at times.

I remember seeing a couple of builds for archiving quills and did a little googling for plans. I came across the video below, where he built his own. He linked to the plans (free) along with software to control scans and the cameras (two of them).

I pulled the dxf files for the plywood parts to vectric and they are already laid out with lines for doing dados, so it's just a matter of arranging the parts and creating the tool paths. Most of the parts probably could be laid out and cut with a jigsaw for the most part.

The plans:
direct link: Book Scanner

The manual:

The pi scanner software:

There is software linked on the video description for processing to pdf, but I'm using a software called Scanned Image Extractor. It basically crops images from a larger image and lets you save them off to individual ones.

I don't know yet if I'll build it, may just stick with the dslr setup I started with, but may pull down the PI software and see how well it works and if would be worth building the full rig.
So after much thought, I'm probably not going to build the full quill, but instead just the book holder and some way to mount the cameras to capture both pages of the book at a time.

I've got a spare raspberry pi with a 7" touchscreen and have loaded it with the pi-scan touch screen software image. It starts up and functions just fine, but I'll need to get a couple of cameras to use it with.
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I found two used Canon Powershot ELPH 180 20 Megapixel cameras on last night for $21 each. From what I've read, that model of camera should work just fine with the software. I have also found a couple of external power adapters for them to power them from wall warts vs batteries.
I received my cameras for this project, the first two fell through with the sellers, ended up ordering two different used ones from ebay for $17 each. Turns out one of them the usb port is broken on, trying to get an exchange on it, but found another for $23 and hopefully it will be here on Friday. I also have the battery eliminators for them, so I don't need to swap out batteries.

I have a couple of ball head mounts for mounting and adjusting each camera.

Lastly, I ordered a couple more of the led sewing machine lights with the goose necks to adjust lighting easier.

My wife is wanting to use the old entertainment center for storage of many of the albums, so planning to use the dry bar area as my scanning station.
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I'm thinking about using the wire wine glass rack to mount the cameras on to be able to slide them in/out for adjustment and storage. Basically a 1x3 should fit in the rack, then a screw, spacer, and fender washer to help keep it in the slot. I will have to see if it's a tall enough of a space though.
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2 steps forward on this project. Got the camera mounts made today. These slide into the wine glass holders, should allow for plenty of adjustment. Each camera will point straight down to the page below it rather than crossing over to the opposite side.
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And one step back...3rd camera I've been waiting on wasn't functional either and looks like the lens was scrapped on some concrete. I may be able to fix the second one using parts from it, but ordered another after a few questions were answered by the seller, hoping 4th time is a charm. :rolleyes:
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Well, I got camera 4 the other day and it was a winner, so I was finally able to try out the scanner software today. I have to say, it's actually pretty well thought out and works well. I had one camera disconnect during the first scan, it waited for me to restart the camera and it automatically started where it left off. I need to cut a hole for running some cords down from the top shelf and tidy things up with some zip ties yet.
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It's taking me about 5 minutes per album. I take the scanned images for each to the laptop, copy them off to a numbered folder, then print out a label for the album I just scanned with that folder number on it. I then clear the scans from the usb drive. When I get back to the scanner, I restart the program and it starts scanning form page 0 again, each image get named the page number of the book.

After I got 3 of them scanned, I sat down to start cropping them out using the software I posted above. That software lets me name the file, but uses the image scan page number automatically in the name, then sequentially numbers each cropped image. The nice thing about this is I can refer back to the album number I put on the sticker and the page number from the cropped image to easily find the image if I need to re-scan or make notes for it.

The plan is to get most of them scanned, then go back and try to annotate some of them with anything that is written on the back or dates that we may recall.

I've only gotten through two of the albums scanned, about 550 pictures total, took me about 5 hours. Just another hundred or so albums to go :rolleyes: :D

I'm also putting a qr code on each of the labels, which can be scanned with a cell phone to open the scanned images in the digital album. This will come in handy for when my wife is looking for an image to get a re-print of or to send to another relative. Also should come in handy when I'm annotating things.
A note of advice. Work from a local drive when processing images. I was using a network drive and the saving of each image was taking a long time. Working on my local SSD drive is about 5 times faster, so things are moving along now. I'm copying the final images over to the network drive after finishing processing all of them now.