Monday, 28 March 2011

Yashica Electro 35: Making Your Own Battery

9. Closed bottom
These are digital times, roll film is getting harder to find. You must be wondering why I have chosen to resurrect a 35mm film camera from the 1970s. Well, I have news for you: film is not dead and even vacuum tubes (valves) are still being manufactured. You see, digital is merely convenient, though not necessarily cheap, and has almost become as good as her analogue father—well, almost.
3. Spindle with cotton thread
While at a camera shop in Paris, I checked a $1,200 Nikon digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera that I intended to buy and was horrified to feel the flimsy built quality in my hands. China’s cheap products have ruined things for humanity which took eons to learn how to make find sturdy things.
5. Spindle top
Now compare the all metal-and-glass wonder, the Yashica Electro 35, with today’s plastic digital cameras and you will know what I mean. When Nikon introduced the model EM camera its size was intentionally kept small to suit women’s hands. But our matchbox-sized digital wonders are neither for men nor for women, but for adolescents who drop them, break them and then pester their parents for replacements. Surely, most of us have embraced the global throw-away culture, without reminding ourselves that these megapixel gadgets are not designed to be repaired.
2. Battery metal cover-2
Hold the Yashica Electro 35 in your hands and you will appreciate how well-made it feels even today. After all, it features Japanese parts that were merely assembled in Hong Kong in order to keep the camera very affordable. The Electro appeared in various finishes and model variations and was dubbed “a poor man’s Leica” (the German rangefinder camera that brought the 35mm revolution).

1. Battery metal cover-1I will not delve into how much I love the Yashica Electro 35 camera; volumes have already been written. Its fourth generation GSN and GTN models appeared around 1973 and sold by the millions; little did I know that I would end up buying a few of these years later.

6. Spindle with metal spacer tubeRight out of the box (you can still find 'boxed' beauties), the Electro 35 is capable of shooting quality images rivalling fifteen megapixel results. You see, real men while shooting with roll film, never worried about LCDs, confusing menus or megapixels. Now, to get great results with the Electro 35 one need only set the aperture while the camera automatically sets the shutter speed. There is no autofocus facility but this rangefinder is capable of very precise and quick manual focussing aid (split-image parallax method) even in poorly lit situations.

7. Spindle & batteriesThis Yashica comes from a time when one needed to know what one was doing as a photographer. Automatic point-and-shoot cameras have made humanity quite brain-dead. The only feature missing from the present day cameras is a mode that decides for the photographer when a picture ought to be taken, all without human intervention. I mean, must we even torture our brain cells deciding when and what to shoot when the computer can think for us?

8. Spindle, battery, end capMine is a genuine tirade against modern digital toys which are battery-hogging matchbox-sized plastic things that have made the battery manufacturers very rich. The Electro 35 originally used Mercury TR 164 (HM-4N) 5.6 Volt type of a battery. Because mercury was declared a hazardous substance, the manufacturers stopped their production. But now I will show you how to achieve analogue nirvana by improvising to save your father’s Yashica from extinction. We will proceed to fabricate a 6 volt battery which will not hurt the camera’s 5.6 volt circuitry:
    10. Battery check button
  1. Open the camera’s battery compartment using a coin’s edge that fits the slot nicely. Turn anti-clockwise and inspect the compartment. Clean it, especially if the used battery has left leaked residues behind. The compartment’s lid must also be free of unwanted substances. Use demineralised alcohol on a cotton swab for cleaning.
  2. Peep into your household sewing kit and dig out a paper or plastic spindle. This kind of tubular base is ideal for our DIY project.
  3. Cut the tube to the length that the camera’s battery chamber will take.
  4. The internal diameter of the spindle must be able to house, but not too tightly, four LR44 1.5 Volt batteries. Now pile these four little babies—negative side down—one on top of the other in the tube to get 6 Volts of power.
  5. Over the last battery, drop a metal tube to act as a spacer.
  6. Place over this spacer, a round metal plate to enable the battery compartment’s lid to make electrical contact with.
  7. Close the compartment’s lid.
  8. Press the Battery Check button and watch the lovely green light illuminate the counter.
11. Final battery checkAnd you’re done! The total cost of this project is less than Rs. 86 ($1).

You could still buy a mint condition Yashica Electro 35 for as little as $30. I encourage you to activate your brain, load up a roll of 35mm film, and start shooting now.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me.
©Tahir Gul Hasan 2011

12 comments:

  1. Q. Who do i ask, the 'point' of writing this blog?

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  2. You can ask me. The point of writing this blog is that after reading it, everybody will get mad and come out on the streets to protest against the fraudulent digital invasion.

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Mag 4 Family! Always welcome! :)

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  4. Thanks Mag4, you guys are doing well too on your blog!

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  5. HHDHi! ur as funny as ever mA!

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  6. It is good to appreciate my funny nerves, Nauma!

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  7. Hello sir,
    What a great post!
    I love my yashica gt however I have bit of a problem with the battery door lately.
    Basically, this is what happened:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/76195075@N07/6872489363/
    I have pull out the corroded metal ring and the green light wont light up anymore!
    While it is difficult to come across replacement parts, I am thinking if it is possible to fix the broken cover.
    Please let me know if you can think of ways!!!
    my email is lambertckw@me.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hello sir,
    What a great post!
    I love my yashica gt however I have bit of a problem with the battery door lately.
    Basically, this is what happened:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/76195075@N07/6872489363/
    I have pull out the corroded metal ring and the green light wont light up anymore!
    While it is difficult to come across replacement parts, I am thinking if it is possible to fix the broken cover.
    Please let me know if you can think of ways!!!
    my email is lambertckw@me.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for appreciating Lambert!
    Looks like the corroded metal plate of the cover is NOT helping make the electrical contact.
    Since I'm not home and a Yashica is not with me, I will have to answer your question later. :)

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  10. I am still waiting for the reply meant for Lambert...
    I have had the same problem but now sent my camera to Calcutta for repair and CLA since it also had a shutter problem. Thanks for the battery info though. Helpful indeed!

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  11. Sorry to be so late, Kenri. Could you email me in a few days because I'm (yet again) away somewhere. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete