Author Topic: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super  (Read 4529 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« on: November 15, 2014, 06:35:06 PM »
About a week ago, I got an old Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash camera at an antiques store. The camera was really in bad shape but the shutter was working perfectly and it had its spare take-up spool, so I thought I’d get it to tinker with. I wanted to do a few modifications to it just to see how easy it would be to bring it up to modern standards. Now, I didn’t intend on flipping the lens which would be too easy. What I wanted was to do to it some things that should have been there from the start. . I won’t get into the details of how to do the mods in detail as this can be readily be found online. I’m going to give instead tips to make things easier.

The first thing I did was to add a tripod socket. This is a very easy thing to do and probably is the first thing anyone with a Hawkeye should do to it. All that’s needed is a T-nut, epoxy and a bit of black cardboard. When I got the T-nut from the hardware store, it was well oiled to protect it from corrosion. Since the first rule of proper adhesion when using glue is to make sure the surfaces are free of contaminants, I decided to clean the nut with some lighter fluid. This guaranteed that the epoxy will hold like it’s supposed to. I also highly recommend using a drill press for all the modifications. This will ensure that the holes are straight, something that is mandatory for a good fit. I also discovered that Bakelite can be fragile, so it’s best to drill with light pressure. So, I flattened the prongs on the nut, mixed epoxy and set everything in place. I measured it all so that I can fit my Manfrotto tripod plate on the camera without hindering the open/close mechanism by overlapping the seam where the front and back separate. I also recommend first gluing the nut to the cardboard with some instant glue before setting the nut in place with epoxy.

Next, I added some strap lugs. For these I used some frame hanging D-loops which I held in place with some instant glue, pop rivets and washers. I first checked the balance point of the camera before drilling and noticed that the optimal point is very close to the separation seam. This is a bad place to put the nuts not because it is the optimal location but because of the fragility of Bakelite. I didn’t want the camera to suddenly break so I ended-up putting the lugs about an inch away from the edge. I drilled the hole, put glue on the hangers, put the pop rivets in them to align everything and glued the tabs in place. Now I should say that Bakelite really likes instant glue. They say that the glue will set in one minute but it definitely isn’t the case with this material. As soon as it was aligned properly, I put the back washer on it and proceeded to rivet everything in place. Bakelite is a fragile product, but it is incredibly strong when in compression. I was scared when the rivets popped as it made a nasty crack sound but the back washers made sure everything went fine.

Now for a bit of a harder mod, I moved the flash trigger point so that it would be synchronized with the electronic flash. The point is a little piece of metal in a half moon slot inside the camera. Some sites say that the contact can be moved but it wasn’t the case with mine. So I resorted to bending slightly the moving switch arm. To adjust for flash, you don’t need to have a flash connected. It’s much easier to use a multimeter in resistance mode. This does imply a bit of dexterity so if you can eat with chopsticks you should be able to do this. In order to expose correctly the flash must trigger when the shutter is fully opened. So I set the camera on bulb, put the leads on the flash contacts and watched the meter making sure that the resistance reads towards zero when the shutter is fully open and one when it starts to close. This is not hard to do but needs a bit of fiddling to get it right. Long nose pliers are the best tool here.

Now, what’s the point in having a bulb mode if you don’t have a way to lock the exposure open? So I decided that this thing definitely needed a cable release. I was lucky to find a small nut in my random parts drawer that fit a cable release perfectly. So I drilled a small hole all the way to the metal lever that is attached to the shutter button. When you look at the internal design of the camera, you definitely get the feeling that Kodak was planning on adding such a feature but backed down at the last moment. There is a metal L shaped lever that is just perfect for pushing on. The center of the metal piece is exactly 26mm from the edge of where the front and back meet. When you drill there, make sure you use a small drill as you will be going through a reinforcement bar that holds the shutter spring. Once you reach the right depth, you can make the top hole bigger to accommodate the nut. Just setting the nut on the surface of the camera won’t work as you need a lot of displacement on the cable release just to reach the lever. To glue everything in place, I used a screw to hold on to the nut while the epoxy sets.

While this was curing, I was looking at the film holder and discovered that as a protection to prevent users from using 120 films, Kodak had put a small tab on the holder that rubs on a regular 120 spool. I just used some flush cut snips and removed it.

Now comes the hardest part. I wanted to add a hotshoe to the camera... good idea but really hard to do. I salvaged the hotshoe off a cheap subscription type camera by cutting off the top and sanding the edges so that I could fit it on the Brownie. This one involves plenty of sanding, drilling to accommodate the little screws that protrude, soldering, sloppy epoxy work and general swearing. This is not for the faint of heart and I should have just put a small mono audio jack in it to connect the flash instead of going to all this trouble. That would definitely have been the easiest thing to do. But if you want to do it my way, I recommend using a paint pen to mark the location of the screws and pins. You paint the screws and place the part in the right place so that the paint transfers to the body. The soldering on those cheap cameras is definitely not great, so check everything for continuity before gluing and before soldering.

So there you have it, a “professional” Brownie Hawkeye that takes 120 film. All you need is a handful of space 620 spools to be off to the races.

I hope you enjoyed my long description.
Here’s what the final result looks like.
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

jojonas~

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,799
  • back at 63° 49′ 32″ N
    • jojonas @ flickr
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2014, 06:48:39 PM »
looks pro! nice work :)

another place for the strap lugs might be closer to the back to the camera. then it would hang lens down, kind of like a hasselblad.
/jonas

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2014, 09:12:40 PM »
That would also be solid. Though I don't know if my fingers would have been long enough to reach in and insert the washers :)
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

jojonas~

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,799
  • back at 63° 49′ 32″ N
    • jojonas @ flickr
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2014, 10:04:24 PM »
ah, yes. there's that ofcourse :)

nice to know that the cable release mod was so easy!
/jonas

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2014, 10:23:37 PM »
I was lucky to find a small odd nut that fit perfectly. I was also expecting it to be harder than it was.
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

Bryan

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,701
    • Flickr
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2014, 04:45:23 PM »
Will the flash only work in Bulb or will it work with the normal shutter speed?  If it works with the normal shutter speed how did you check or calibrate to make sure it is timed correctly?  I understand the checks you did with the meter in the bulb setting but will that work with the normal shutter speed?  I remember doing a check on a camera where I pointed it at a wall and took a shot with the camera back opened to watch for the flash through the lens.  That's not a very accurate way to check it but it seemed to work.  I think the shutter speed on that camera is around 1/30.

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2014, 09:26:13 PM »
The flash works on all speeds, both instant and bulb.
And you don't even need to have a flash attached to check it out and do the adjustments!
What I did was set the camera on bulb to make sure the shutter can not fly past full open as I wanted my multimeter to get a reading. A flash works with just a switch. When the contacts get closed, the voltage flows through the camera and the flash goes off. I was looking for this continuity.

So, I checked the contact full open and then slowly released the shutter button while looking at the switch and the open shutter. I know that an electronic flash needs to be triggered exactly when the shutter is full open. So, I closed it and fiddled with both the base contact and the flying "guillotine" of the switch. First time I didn't get any trigger. Next I was triggering when the aperture was not fully open. By playing and bending with the thin "guillotine" of the switch, I was able to get it to go to an on position when the shutter is full open and make no contact at all when I slightly released the button. Now I know for sure that the shutter is fully X-sync without any trial and error.

Believe me, it's easier to do than to describe.
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

Bryan

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,701
    • Flickr
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2014, 10:37:19 PM »
Believe me, it's easier to do than to describe.

I'll have to take your word on that ;).  Sounds like you got it figured out, now lets see what you can do with it!

Hungry Mike

  • Peel Apart
  • ***
  • Posts: 305
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2014, 01:10:11 AM »
Very professional modifications. You should consider doing them on the side as a business.

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2014, 03:03:59 PM »
I'm afraid I'd pretty fast run out of hotshoe plates and little cable release screws...  :(
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

02Pilot

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,501
  • Malcontent
    • Filmosaur
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2014, 11:37:59 AM »
Nice work. I did the tripod and cable release mods when I got mine, since the original plan was to do a pinhole conversion. Turns out this is not a good camera for that (lens location too far behind the shutter, plus some internal obstructions), so I ended up flipping the lens. The flash mods look far trickier than the ones I did.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


-Hunter S. Thompson
-
http://filmosaur.wordpress.com/

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2014, 04:08:03 PM »
I must say that adding the hotshoe was a  real drag. But just converting to x-Sync was fairly easy.

One of the things I saw was someone who just threaded some screws in both of the original contact lugs and used a spare cable that was fitted with some crimp-on connectors to do the link between the flash and the camera.

The easiest thing to do would be to get a cheap Chinese pc cable to hotshoe adapter that has a ¼-20 screw mount on the bottom and just attach it to a small plate that screws into the lugs and use the crimp-on connectors to hold everything tight.
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

John Robison

  • Peel Apart
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2014, 01:48:27 PM »
I'm afraid I'd pretty fast run out of hotshoe plates and little cable release screws...  :(
Regarding cable release size. Although not tapered, an 8-32 nut or tapped hole has worked with any regular cable release threads I've tried.

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2014, 03:49:34 PM »
I don't really know what I used since I was going through the assorted nut drawer with my cable release to pick-up the part that held best...
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

Maximzodal

  • 35mm
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2016, 06:20:39 PM »
quote: So I decided that this thing definitely needed a cable release. end quote

Do you have a photo of the cable release from the interior of the camera?

Francois

  • Self-Coat
  • *****
  • Posts: 12,348
Re: The Contraption 18: Brownie Hawkeye Super
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2016, 02:25:33 PM »
Sadly I don't.
But the cable does go through more than one support rib in order to reach the Hutton's side.
To do this you really have to remove the black cone that supports the film at the back so that you can see what you're doing.
It's also a pretty precise job so the use of a drill press is highly recommended.
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.