Homemade Equipment

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Simple Gravity Base

by Dave Battin


Here is an example of gravity bases. They are easy to make and quite stable. The items you need are:

  • 12" steel rod, 1/2" diameter
  • 4" section of 3" or 4" PVC pipe
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Scraps of steel or lead
  • Wooden board
  • 3 round head screws (optional)

Assemble the base as follows:

  • Drill a 1/2" hole through the wooden board to accept the rod nicely.
  • Clamp the board to a workbench top so the the steel rod can go through the hole and stick up above the board by 3-1/2".
  • Position the PVC pipe section on the board, over the rod. The rod should be off-center.
  • Fill the PVC pipe with a combination of Plaster of Paris and scrap metal. The metal provides the weight, so the more the better.

Feet can be cut into the PVC as shown in the bases depicted here. The round head screws can be set in the plaster instead, providing something of a kinetic mount capability. After a short setting time the base and rod are pulled out off the board and the base is now complete. Paint after plaster is completely dry, usually a week or two(!).

Film Holders

Holding the film or plate stable is a prime requirement for making a hologram. Film holders can be as simple as holding up a glass plate with a couple of magnets. But, it must not be forgotten that the film must be held absolutely stable.

Film holder Plans:

  1. Machined Film holder
  2. Angle Iron Film Holder

Everyday Items

These are just suggestions and the actual results may vary. It is the responsibility of the user of these suggestions to be safe and use common sense.

  • Heating pads used with three or more settings allow a variable heating to processing trays. Simply put the heating pad under the tray and turn the pad on to the desired setting.
  • Black foam board can be used for blocking stray light. The type that is black through and through is best as the edge stays black even when it is cut. This material can also be used for making an iris.
  • A shutter can be made from most old 8 mm movie cameras. They have a low voltage electric shutter. Remove this unit and set up a circuit with the original voltage of the camera and a switch.
  • A thick piece of glass, a ¼ inch or thicker, can be used as a beam splitter. Using the thick piece of glass allows a small piece of electric tape to be placed over the secondary reflection off the back of the glass.
  • Sandwich storage containers can be use as processing trays and storage for the chemistry without having to pour back and forth into a bottle. They come in many sizes and shapes with airtight lids. Store sealed containers with chemistry in a dark, dry, cool place when not being used.
  • Inner tubes can be used as the dampening mechanism between a holographic table and the support legs.
  • A slab of granite can be used as a holographic table.
  • Most old overhead projectors have large front surface mirrors and large Fresnel lenses in them. They can be purchased at yard sales and flee markets for just a few dollars.
  • Most photocopiers and fax machines have front surface mirrors.
  • New Jefferson Nickels have a weight of 5 grams and new Lincoln Pennies have a weight of 2.5 grams. Standard paper clips have a weigh of 1 gram. To verify the weight of the paper clips put a nickel on one side of the balance and find 5 paper clips of the same size that equals the nickel. These can be used on a balance for measuring out chemicals.
  • A hair dryer can be used to dry a piece of holographic film or plate after processing. Drying intensity and heat is variable with very inexpensive dryers.
  • Polarizers can be found in polarizing sun glasses. These can be used to slightly modify the intensity of throughput laser light by inserting it into the beam path and rotating. They can also be used to relatively compare the polarization of light in different locations.
  • Two pieces of window pane glass and binder clips can be used to sandwich a piece of holographic film. This will hold the film rigid and flat.
  • A microwave can be used to heat the Deionized or Distilled water needed for mixing up processing chemistry. But please be careful to keep chemistry contaminated containers separate and secure. One method is to heat the water in a clean container in the microwave and then pour it into the chemistry container for mixing, always keeping the clean container free of any chemicals.
  • Two parts, fast hardening epoxy is great for securing two pieced of metal without the need for drilling and taping. This also allows the disassembly with just a small sharp blow to one of the pieces.
  • A pinhole can be made by sandwiching 5 or 10 pieced of aluminum foil together and poking with a pin while the pile is on a hard piece of rubber just coming through to the other side. Each piece of foil will have a slightly different size pinhole.
  • Automobile windshield wiper blades can be used as a squeegee. If you epoxy two blades to a pair of scissors whereas the two blades meet perpendicular out from the cutting surface of the scissors and when the scissors are closed ¾ of the way, you can squeegee both sides of the film at the same time. For plates this is not necessary and one side can be done at a time with one blade.
  • Clothes pins strung on a line can be used to hang the film when it dries. After clamping the film at two corners with the pins, clamp two more at the bottom corners to keep the film straight when it dries.
  • Dishwasher drying agent can be used as Photoflo in the final rinsing bath. Use an agent that does not have fragrant and is preferably clear.
  • Sodium carbonate can be purchased cheaply as a pH increaser for swimming pools and Spas.
  • Sodium Bisulfate can be purchased cheaply as a pH decreaser for swimming pools and Spas.
  • Sulfuric acid can be purchased as Automobile battery acid. Most formulas call for concentrations that are lower then the concentration sold as Auto battery acid.
  • Sanford Sharpie markers, black, which come in different sizes, are ideal for blackening optics, mounts and anything small you want to reduce reflections on. It is a permanent marker that writes on almost anything.
  • Paper Mate liquid paper correction is a very nice white paint for painting objects for holography. It dries flat white and diffuses the light very well.