View Full Version : Unusual Large Electric Shutter - What to do?

Ed K.
27-Jul-2007, 15:53
Need advice -

In my collection of surplus purchases, I have a 3.5" electrically operated shutter and iris assembly that has only 2318 actuations on the counter (first overhaul is due at 12,000 cycles). Everything moves smoothly and it appears to have all required wires and terminals, etc., undamaged. The whole deal is servo controlled. This shutter was commonly used in many applications, such as mapping cameras, however it is very unusual to find one that hasn't been butchered somehow. I have not removed any of its covers or forced it. The iris adjusts just fine too.

I also have the 24", non tea-colored, coated 24" f6 optics for it that are in plenty decent shape to make images.

This thing is big, like 10 inches in diameter overall, however without the glass in it, it weighs less than 5 lbs.

Originally, I wanted to harvest the elements, put them into a barrel and then use them as a wonderful portrait lens with waterhouse stops. I may still do that yet.

But the shutter has me going. It might be possible to make it work, and then create a remote firing, fast shutter speed (well, faster than a Packard shutter that's for sure!) rig with a 4x5 or so on the back of it. I was thinking of a large plastic pipe or similar for that - simple and easy - and just about any 4x5 back. The lens probably covers more than 4x5 with good sharpness, and as a portrait lens, most likely 8x10 perhaps with some corner darkening (good for portrait use).

I have no plans that give functions for the servos, and I suspect that much of it is only 48 volt.

It seems that it would be a terrible waste to take one of these in (probably) perfect working order and then make it into some hacked rig by removing the servos or adapting newer servos to it. It would really be neat to hear it trip and also to see the iris wind back and forth. Also, to have it in a long waterproof tube to sit out in the rainy night taking long lens landscape shots while sitting comfortably in the truck with a laptop to control it would be interesting indeed.

I think that it would be nice to either find out what signals and power levels need to go to it and then play with it, or otherwise, try to find it a good home with somebody else who can make really good use of it without destroying it. I'm sure that it has a beer can metal value of quite a few bucks too.

Any ideas? Anyone have plans or repair manuals / installation manuals for one of these shutters? Anyone want to buy this thing? Take this thing? It's really a marvel of engineering.

Walter Calahan
27-Jul-2007, 16:07
I own two of these shutters with lens elemets - a 12" f/2.5 & a 24" f/6.

They work off standard aircraft voltage.

Never thought of firing up one of these shutters. Cool idea. My plan is to mount the shutter on the film side of a 5x7 camera, and then attach bellows to bellows, a camera with a focal plane shutter, such as a Speed Graphic or a RB Graflex.

Love to learn if you get yours working.

Ernest Purdum
27-Jul-2007, 16:55
Aircraft direct current voltage is 24 to 28 Volts, not 48. I think I see a maker's plate in your pictures, but can't read it. Maybe the manufacturer could still supply a wiring diagram after all these years. Couldn't hurt to ask. If not, an electrical tech with an ohmmeter coud probably figure out which connections are for power and which for control.

Alan Davenport
27-Jul-2007, 17:27
These shutters might be large enough to mount in a door or wall and use as a pet door for a cat or small dog.... :D

27-Jul-2007, 17:36
possibly buy yourself a small rodent and house-train it using this as a bathroom door in the cage? :D

Walter Calahan
27-Jul-2007, 17:37
Most like the manufacturer is Fairchild.

My 12" f/2.5 has a Fairchild Night Shutter. There is no shutter identification plate on the 24" f/6.0 lens.

Again, these ran off of standard aircraft voltage.

Walter Calahan
27-Jul-2007, 17:38
Oh, and these things would make a great boat anchor too.

Ed K.
27-Jul-2007, 17:57
Aha - right on the tag, it does say 28 volts DC. Getting a diagram for it is another matter however.

Boat anchor? Nope - not heavy enough. But with a chain to the center column, it could be tripod ballast. Besides, it would corrode when used as an anchor. The shutter might be a decent electronic rat trap if it had a sensor, but then cleaning it would be troublesome, and well, I don't like killing things. Maybe I'll have to save it for building the world's largest and heaviest SLR.

If anyone has access to an unclassified schematic, that would be really terrific!

Hmmm, ebay. I've bought things in "mint" condition there that didn't look half as good...

Ernest Purdum
28-Jul-2007, 07:40
Yes, but were they "rare"?

Donald Qualls
28-Jul-2007, 10:42
I'd bet that the 24" focal length lens that came with those shutters will cover 20x24, though the original camera probably ran 9" roll film and used only the "sweet spot" of the lens. The shutter will have one of two modes -- instantaneous on receiving a pulse of current (that is, current applied will act like pressing the release on a press shutter) or open when energized (i.e. like a Packard in Bulb mode) -- if not both. It'd almost be a shame to put a lens and shutter like that on a 4x5, unless you want to be able to take portraits from twenty feet -- it really calls for 8x10 or larger.

BTW, I suspect the "day" designation on that shutter is significant; I'm guessing, but "day" shutters may have been instantaneous (with a speed likely to be between 1/50 and 1/250) while "night" shutters were probably either much slower, or operated in bulb mode. I also note by the cycle counter that you have almost ten thousand cycles on that one before it's due for overhaul... :D

Ed K.
28-Jul-2007, 13:29
Ernest - these things were not rare. Finding one in this condition is the unusual part. I've seen many that were seized, gutted, or rendered inoperable. I've also seen many where the lens elements were trashed. This one has all of the elements.

Donald, I think it would cover 8x10 for portraits. But an 18" PVC pipe that would serve as rigid body, lens shade and back holder for a night / rain landscape remote camera would be rather intimidating! And yes - if that counter is correct, it's got some life in it! Maybe it is destined to become the ultimate Texas Leica - 9" roll film hand-holdable rangefinder for giants. Hmmm.

It does seem that the best thing would be to construct a new aluminum barrel with a slot for waterhouse stops and then just have an interesting, fast 24" lens. The lens is very nicely coated, and unlike the Ektars, it is not tea colored - I'm sure that the speed of the lens is as stated.

erie patsellis
28-Jul-2007, 16:28
I must have......preciousssssss.........


Ernest Purdum
29-Jul-2007, 13:25
If there are not three on sale at the same time, apparently on eBay it's "rare".

erie patsellis
29-Jul-2007, 14:00
I've tried to get a few 24" lenses, at a price I can afford, but alas, some have more for their hobby to spend than others.