Group 7 - Kodak Disposable Camera

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The product is a Kodak-made disposable camera. The camera is constructed of primarily injection molded ABS plastic components.

How It Works

The camera is comprised of three assemblies; the casing/frame, the actual camera mechanics, and the flash and corresponding circuit.

Operation is described from the "loaded" position, or one where all necessary provisions are made in order to take a picture with the depression of the shutter button. Once the shutter button is depressed, it makes contact with the shutter lever. This contact causes the shutter to cycle, or rotate about a pin on the center chassis, and quickly return to its initial position due to the force imparted by the shutter spring. This rapid movement of the shutter allows light from the desired image to pass through the lens and create an image on the film. At this point, the picture has been taken.

Here the camera must be reset to take the next picture. Once the shutter lever has been tripped, it also unlocks the lock on the film advancing reel. The operator must turn the winding wheel. The wheel turns, winding the film around the slotted film post. This advances the film to the next frame, as well as rotates the pictures remaining wheel. The wheel will turn until the shutter lever is reset, and then will stop, telling the user the camera is prepared to take the next shot.

Operating in parallel with the mechanical assembly is the flash assembly. It is a relatively simple circuit, comprised of the printed circuit board (PCB), flash, button, light emitting diode (LED), battery, resistor, and capacitor. When the button is depressed, the circuit is closed, and charge flows from the battery to the capacitor. When the capacitor is fully charged, the LED turns on, indicating the capacitor is charged to the operator. When the shutter button is depressed, the capacitor is discharged through the flash, illuminating the desired object. The button must be depressed once again to recharge the capacitor.

The last assembly, the casing/frame is purely physical. It is comprised of three parts, the central chassis, and front and back covers. The central chassis holds the mechanical parts in place, as well as the PCB. This chassis then snaps into the front and rear covers which protect the internal parts.


Disassembly is relatively simple. Thanks to the use of plastic tabs in place of traditional fasteners, the entire camera can be disassembled without the use of any tools, though a screwdriver and/or knife would aid greatly in the process. The following table outlines the general disassembly steps.

Table 4.1: Disassembly of a Disposable Camera
Step # Procedure Image
1 Pry open tabs on body;
separate covers
2 Remove battery and PCB assembly
*note; read warning at bottom of table first
3 Remove film canister and spindle X
4 Remove lens, lens holder, shutter spring, and shutter. X
5 Remove viewfinder, frame counter, film
advance wheel, shutter lever, advance lock, camshaft,
and shutter spring.

CAUTION: If the capacitor on the PCB is charged, it can shock the user. The shock is not fatal, but can be very painful. Discharge the capacitor using a well insulated screwdriver. Refer to the video for instructions in doing so.

Suggested Improvements

A variety of improvements could be implimented. Problem: Film advance wheel is difficult to grasp and advance properly Solution: Enlarge wheel

Assorted Improvements: 1. New Chassis As a disposable camera, one of the key features is light weight. This weight can further be reduced by manufacuring the center chassis part from stamped sheet metal instead of injection molded ABS plastic. The resultant would be a thinner, lighter, and above all cheaper part. This removes both product weight and cost, making it a more attractive product to the consumer. 2. New Battery/Subcontracted Battery As we disassembled the camera, we noticed the battery was a standard AA battery manufactured by Kodak. This could be greatly improved in two ways. As a standardized battery, it could be subcontracted to a battery manufacturer. A battery manufacturer could supply Kodak with the batteries at lower cost. The alternative would be to manufacture a smaller specialized battery, reducing size, weight and possibly cost. 3. Different Film Though film is rapidly becoming obsolete, it gives reason to specialize the film produced for disposable cameras. If the film is primarily used for disposable cameras rather than a wide range of cameras, it should be specialized for its specific use. With limited research and development, a better film cartridge could be produced; one better than the venerable 35mm cartridge used in these models. The new film could be much smaller, reducing the overall size and weight of the camera. Another improvement would be a shift to higher resolution film, as high resolution has become a hot topic in the world of photography.