Daniel Reetz, the founder of the DIY Book Scanner community, has recently started making videos of prototyping and shop tips. If you are tinkering with a book scanner (or any other project) in your home shop, these tips will come in handy. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn0gq8 ... g_8K1nfInQ

Notes on KIC BookEye 4 scanner design and use

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Notes on KIC BookEye 4 scanner design and use

Post by vitorio » 13 Jul 2013, 12:46

My university's main library recently installed two KIC Bookeye 4 scanners for public use, and I finally had the chance to try them out.

They're fairly large units, taking up as much square footage as a traditional photocopier. They're also fairly expensive units: this configurator puts the base price for the university's models (cabinet/stand, foot pedal, color upgrade) at around $23,000. The main library has two, and there are a few others elsewhere on campus.

The hardware provides an adjustable cradle, either in a V shape or flat, with no intermediate steps. The overhead cameras sound like a photocopier or scanner; looking up into it, it looks like one camera that rotates left-to-right, and two rotating lamps, one on either side of the lens. Two laser lines are projected from it constantly, one longitudinal indicating where the "center" of the spine should be, right in the middle of the cradle, and one latitudinal, about 3/4 of the way down the cradle, near the user, which seems to be used to dewarp the images. The university ordered the optional foot pedal (which I saw one user using), and also provided a few sheets of thick acrylic to help hold books flat. These were already pretty scratched up, but you couldn't really tell in the scans.

When a scan starts, the laser lights blink, as if it's taking a reading, and then turn off. The noise starts, and a light is projected from the overhead unit on the far left, and this light passes to the spine like a photocopier's lamp does, and then a second light on the right picks up and goes to the far right. The entire scanning area is listed as 17"x24". Your scan appears on the display monitor (the one at eye level), and it will automatically crop and split pages for you if you told it to. It splits the pages intelligently, not necessarily where the laser spine indicator is.

Scans are a maximum of 300dpi native (or you can pay $4500 to upgrade to a 600dpi camera), and, interestingly, color is a paid upgrade ($3200). (Those prices are from the previously linked configurator.) I can't imagine there being a cost-effective hardware difference in using a greyscale camera; it has to be just a markup for the sake of a feature markup, enabled in software.

Some scans seem slightly out of focus in some areas of the page; whether this is an artifact of the camera focus, or the dewarping failing when the page shifts slightly, I don't know. Some of the artifacts in the images suggest that it is indeed a single camera rotating over the cradle, with the images being stitched together continuously like a photo panorama.

Greyscale scans seem decent enough for basic content preservation. The black-and-white scans seem pretty aggressive and even at 300dpi, there seems to be a lot of information lost. I didn't try scanning anything in color. Output media includes email (for university-registered users), USB drive, or print. Output formats include PDF, OCR'd PDF, PNG, JPEG and one or two others (all with optional "interpolation" to 400, 500, or 600dpi). The page scans in the OCR'd PDFs are terribly low quality; the multi-megabyte 300dpi greyscale PNGs are nice enough.

The software could be better (says the designer), but it's straightforward enough that the directions aren't insanely long. Here are the directions the university provides on a large placard by the scanners. Here's a YouTube video showing a somewhat accelerated scanning process. You can see the lights and the UI. The touchscreens are resistive and I can imagine they'll wear down yearly in a heavy-use university environment.

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Re: Notes on KIC BookEye 4 scanner design and use

Post by victoriaaustralia » 15 Jul 2013, 17:08

Goodness, I do wish my university had one of these back in the day. I liked to keep my notes electronic and this would have saved a heap of time spent photocopying reserve books only to take the copies home and scan.

Lets see more of these types of scanners.
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