View Full Version : Scanners

06-26-2009, 10:47 PM
I often find myself doing drawings on large paper stock, 12" x 18", 18" x 24", or 24" x 36" are common for different things I do. (As a fantasy writer I sometimes find myself spending more time laying out and editing the world and key details of it than I actually spend writing.)

But one annoying problem is trying to scan things this large. I've often considered ripping apart an older flatbed and rebuilding it as a custom wide body scanner (Designed like a wide plotter, where it moves the scanning head up and down the page, and then moves the page left/right as needed. Actually if I did this route I might look into making it a scanner/plotter,...)

But I figured a device for scanning something as large as 4'x6' already exists, the only question is where can I get something like this, and will it cost me more than everything else I currently own. (I'm a student,... so actually that wouldn't be all that much.)

06-27-2009, 08:12 AM
I can only assume that it will cost you an arm and a leg. Scanners seem to be going bye bye as the all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax seems to be dominating the market due to the ubiquity of home offices these days. I've never looked into wide format scanners but my wide format printer cost me $5,000. I'm thinking that your best bet is to get good at taking photos and then port them in to your computer.

If you find anything out I'd certainly be interested to hear about it though as it would handy for me as well in my day job.

06-27-2009, 09:02 AM
I had a requirement for this recently and I checked out the on sale devices and I too was shocked at the cost of them all. Its in the ridiculous range.

If you have a good camera then you can try to take photos of sections and stitch them all together. Thats a bit laborious and you also need to get some image manipulation software to adjust the image for barrel distortion or just get a stitching program. But if you can do that then I calculated that you can get up to about 250dpi like that. The worst part of it is trying to get even lighting over the image whilst your taking the photo. Outdoors on a cloudy day seems best to me though even then I find it hard work. I started building a jig which I will add a piccy below. I say started to build it because I ordered a few hundred white LEDs but when I started fitting them all it turns out that some white LEDs are quite pink and others quite green. Getting them consistent is a problem. What I should have done is made a jig for the camera that had all the LEDs nailed to the bit that moves with the camera so that every image had the same color lighting and could have then been compensated. So I might tear up what I have so far and change the design for it. Another back burner project...

06-27-2009, 10:07 AM
Looks like ColorTrac's 28" scanner is about US$6700. Wide format scanners of this type use a traction-feed system rather than a flatbed, so the longer dimension doesn't count.

The largest mass-market flatbeds are only 12" x 18", and retail for $1400 to $3000.

06-27-2009, 10:49 AM
I'm thinking the cheapest method to do this is going to end up being building my own rig out of semi-junk parts. Old printers and such should do for the traction feed, the only hard part will be getting a reliable scanner head.

That, and finding a place to build the rig, then finding a place to mount it. (I'm thinking it is going to end up on the wall above my bed,... I so need to move out of here and get a larger place.)

06-27-2009, 11:18 AM
Depending on how often you do this, it might be more cost-effective to get your large scans done at the local print shop or whatever.

06-27-2009, 11:22 AM
What about creating a large frame of piping, with a cross support on which the camera is mounted. You can mark the spacing on it, so that you know that with X SLR camera and lens, you will have a 15% overlap for merging??

So basically a big raised square with a large bar (perhaps with an extra stabilizing bar).

The key would be having even lighting which would mean providing your own at ~45 degree angles from the plane of the image. A couple cheap manual strobes from a used shop (Vivitar 283's or 5's?) mounted one on each side of the camera....

06-27-2009, 01:40 PM
I have two types of large format scanners in my shop.

1. The large format B/W scanner is a traction feed system, with a 36" wide mouth.

2. My flatbed full color scanner is a 12" x 18" Microtek ScanMaker 9600 XL, which I use for most of my scanning, capable of 36 bit color up to 9600 dpi scan resolution. All larger color documents, I scan as multiple pieces and stitch them back together in Photoshop.

Besides I thought "scanners" were those guys who could telepathically make your heads explode! :P

I'm really not a photographer, so the old traditional fixed camera method of scanning is beyond my interest.


06-27-2009, 05:21 PM
Getting even illumination from a camera is best achieved with a ring light. Fits over the lens and illuminates from all directions. http://www.dansdata.com/ringlight.htm is an example of a DIY ringlight.
Some scanners will work if you turn them upside down and the paper isn't in contact with the glass. You lay the image out on a table, do multiple overlapping scans, then use something like http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/ to stitch them together.

06-28-2009, 02:28 AM
piecing together a photograph will cost you more money in time than a scan at the print shop. if you go to staples, they'll scan it large format for about 5 bucks.