Project Overview  |  Proof of Concept  |  Final Design  |  Fabrication  |  Testing and Results  |  Meet the Team  |  Acknowledgements

Project Overview

Digitizing is the process of converting some object to a digital form. The process involves scanning the object and then uploading it to a computer. Team Live More is tasked with automating a film feeder system that will digitally archive experimental data from film reels. Team Live More that in order to create an effective system, certain requirements have to be met. The system must be compatible with 35mm or 70mm film. The device must also be able to scan up to 1.4m in length of film. The system must be easy to clean and easily maintained. It must also conform WEE’s allowed materials.

The automatic film feeder system belongs in the digital archiving market. Potential customers include research labs, military bases, and hospitals. The two major competitors are Digital Vision and Iron Mountain. These competitors focus primarily on digital archiving for businesses as opposed to research labs such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The distribution for this market is very niche.


Proof of Concept

Team Live More has been focused their proof of concept into three integral roles: maintaining optimal resolution of digitization, curating an automated, reliable method of film feeding and maximizing the quantity of film reels the system can maintain. To secure the quality of digitization occurring, Team Live More has performed rudimentary vibration analysis across their designs and calculated the tensile strengths necessary to achieve flatness within 10-20 thousandths of an inch across the area of a single frame. For the second, the team has printed numerous variations of the films initial holding slot with variously shaped slots cut out to obtain an ideal angle of departure from the holding area to consistently introduce film reels into the digitization system. In order to maximize the quantity of films to be held by the film feeding system, it was found that rotating drums would provide the best film per unit volume. Individual drums will be removable from their larger rotating pallet, allowing for dynamic loading.


Final design


The purpose of the LLNL Film Feeder System is to autonomously digitize and index a large stockpile films with minimal damage to the films. The goal of this project is to reduce labor costs and increase production rates. The LLNL Film Feeder System seeks to complete that goal through automating as much of the film digitization process as possible.


The system has four main components: the feeder drum, the tread, the camera, and the collection drum. The entire system will be mounted on a piece of plywood for support. The film reels will be loaded into the individual containers in the feeder drum where a small leading strand will hang free from the container. The feeder container will rotate into the tread system. The tread system will move the film into the camera system. A glass pane will open for each shot of the film and clamp down on the film to provide a flat surface for film digitization. The camera will digitize the section of the film currently held by the glass pane. After digitization, the tread system will move the film into the collection drum where each container is marked with an indicator corresponding to the individual containers in the feeder drum.

Feeder Drum

The feeder drum is a 20” with 3 smaller drums [d=9.12”] that is rotated by a motor at the center of the drum. Up to 10 will be loaded into each of the individual containers on the feeder drum. A small amount of film, the leading strand will exit the narrow slit of the container, This portion will allow the film to be fed into the tread system.


The tread system will be powered by two interconnected 9V motors. The treads will be lined with a non-slip liner in order to minimize damage to the film while reducing slippage between the film and the treads. The tread system will have two treads: one before the camera and one after the camera. The treads before the camera will grip the leading portion of the film from the feeder drum and feed it into the glass pane of the camera system. The tread portion after the camera will feed the film into the individual containers mounted on the collection drum

Camera System

The camera system is comprised of the camera and the spring loaded glass pane. Glass pane will open and then close down on the particular section of the film being fed. The glass pane will be spring loaded to increase the grip strength. The camera itself is a 50 megapixel camera that is mounted separately from the film feeder system. It will be positioned directly over the glass pane.

Collection Drum

Loading, programming and mechanism of action are identical to that of the feeder drum with the exception that the geometry of the smaller drums have been specialized to facilitate the purpose of collecting (rather than feeding) film strands. The collection drum is a 20” with 3 smaller drums that is rotated by a motor at the center of the drum. Up to 10 films will be collected by each of the individual containers on the feeder drum. The tread system will feed the film into the narrow slit of the individual containers of the collection drum.

Consumer Benefits

Film digitization is a laborious and tedious process where typical sensitive data is handled. With a large volume of films, the labor costs would be high and incidents where the film could be damaged or misplaced will tend to increase as the task proceeds. Therefore, the system seeks to automate the most labor intensive portion of the process. By restricting the manual portion to only the loading and collection of the film, the system can reduce labor costs and the risk of mistakes during film digitization.



The film digitizer has roughly half of its components made out of wood. The team purchased the wood from Home Depot. The 8’x4’x1/2” piece pf plywood was cut into the right size of 5.5’x2’using a circular saw. Then the platters were cut into 22” circle using a jig saw. Holes were then cut into the platters using a drill to cut out a 2” hole and then a jig saw was using to finish the cuts to 5”. Next the supports were cut using a miter saw. Then the supports that had struts were cut using the miter saw to cut the triangular portions. Finally the servo supports were cut using a circular saw so the cutouts were the right size. The aluminum and fiberglass were ordered in sheets so they had to be cut out using a horizontal band saw. Once cut the aluminum had holes drilled into it using a drill press. Now that everything is cut the team can assemble the film digitizer.

The platters were stacked onto each other with the block supports and they were fastened using screws. Then the lazy susans, three on top and one on bottom were also fastened with screws. The frame for the Plexiglas was screwed together and then the Plexiglas was glued to the frame. Two of these were done and one was attached to the t slot carriage using screws and the other was attached to the T slot rail using t slot nuts. Then the tracks were assembled and connected to a carriage and t slot rail using the same method as the Plexiglas frame. The Plexiglas frame assembly is fixed to the baseboard first and the two tread assemblies are attached so that they are parallel to the Plexiglas assembly. The two initial and collection assemblies are then attached using screws to the base board in line with the other assemblies.


Testing and Results

Brief Overview


The LLNL Film Feeder system was designed to reduce the man hours traditionally required to digitize large stockpiles of film. The product design matches the purpose in that it automates the process of film digitization, It accomplishes this by having a mechanical system that would feed the film through a track where it would be autonomously digitized. It would help users by automating a tedious process.


Test Plan


The purpose of the test plan was to determine what mechanisms were required to properly grip the film and move it across the system. Two different methods were tried and discarded before the present design. To measure the success of the design, the test plan determined whether the film would be gripped by the track, the fluidity of the motion, and the consistency of the movement of the film.


The current design of the feeder system utilizes the position of the feeder drum to be as close as possible to the treads so that the treads can grip the film and feed it throughout the system. Previous designs attempted to use a vertical motion applied to the treads in order to grip the film. However, these designs proved too difficult to manufacture in addition to having low rates of success. Previous designs failed because the parts and assemblies used for the feeder track had a low level of quality. To rectify this, an off the shelf tread system was bought and repurposed for the feeder system. Furthermore the moving mechanical portion of the treads were removed to simplify design and manufacturing.


While the new system has the highest rate of success and is amongst the most consistent, it still has its shortcomings. For example, it was found that the film would collapse into the space between where the tread ended and where the plexi-glass pane began. To solve this the group proposed an intermediate layer in between the tread and glass pane. However, this solution was not implemented due to time constraints.



Video attached in assignment.



Meet the Team


Alex Kandaras

Alex was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. Apart from his attendance at the University of Nevada– Reno, he has also done schooling at the University of Bristol, an English school whose engineering program consistently ranks among the top five in the nation. Alex has a penchant for fitness, having consistently been lifting weights for eight years. Alex is currently in between options for his post-college plans.




Ryan Brown

Ryan was born and raised in Reno. He is a senior at The University of Nevada where he is majoring in Mechanical engineering and minoring in Unmanned Autonomous Systems. He participates in Intramural basketball at school.





Wilson Chan


Wilson is a senior mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was raised in Las Vegas. In his free time, he likes to play guitar. After graduation, Wilson hopes to find a job in the engineering field.







David Pantell

Born and raised in Reno Nevada. Current Mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada Reno. Played division 1 tennis for three years at UNR. Interned for C&E builders as an Assistant Superintendent.