Monday, September 7, 2009

Building a 35mm Film Cache

I know what you're thinking.  "Why is he talking about building a 35mm Film Cache.  That's so simple and uncreative."  Well you are right...if you are thinking of a traditional film canister hide.  This one is a bit different, and it can be used in a VARIETY of ways and with traditionals, multi's, or puzzles. Uncreative...HA HA HA!

Let's look at the materials needed:

  • 35mm film canister
  • Micro log sheet
  • Tape
  • Scissors
Before we deal with how to build this, let's look at that first item.  A 35mm film canister.  Now you're probably thinking of the small plastic container that film comes in.  That's not what I'm talking about.  Instead, you need the metal container that the film is actually housed in.  The piece that would go into the camera itself.  For the young ones out there that don't remember film cameras, it looks like this:

Whether you regularly use film or not, chances are you aren't going to have these sitting around the house.   So how do you get your hands on some?  The best place is a film developing center, or a 1-Hour Photo Processing store.  While getting my hands on some, I went to CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-mart.  Many 1-Hour Photo stores will have some kind of system set up where they can get some money back if they send in boxes of used film canisters and those plastic film containers.  At least it used to be like that.  The CVS and Walgreens I went to seem to throw them away.  Good thing Wal-mart still recycles them.  Way to be green Wal-mart.  If you go to the photo lab and politely ask them for either item, usually they are willing to give you a handful.  If they look at you weird and ask why, you can always tell them what they are for or you can tell them something else.  As a science teacher, I can easily say that I'm using them for class and they don't have any more questions.  You can also tell them they are for an art project, or that you use the plastic containers to store things like tacks and paper clips.  A simple reason will usually suffice.  Just make sure the metal film canister (like the one pictured above) has that small piece of film still sticking out and it isn't damaged.  That's important.  From here on out, when I refer to film canister, I'm referring to the metal item in the pictures.

Now that you have the metal film canisters, let's make sure you have the other supplies.  For tape, any tape will do.  I used packaging tape only because all my scotch tape is back at work.  Lay out your supplies in front of you and grab the log sheet.  Depending on your log sheet, figure out which end is the top and which end is the bottom.  Grab the bottom end and line it up with the small tab of film sticking out of the film canister.  Now you need to tape the log sheet to the piece of film.  It can overlap a bit if you want, or you can do it end to end.  Use a small piece of tape and wrap it completely around to secure the paper to the film canister.  When you're done, it should look like this:

Once you have the log sheet securely fastened, carefully insert the film back into the canister.  You might have to work it just a bit if the tape/logsheet/film part is a bit thick, but you should be able to get it in without damaging the container.  If you look at the above picture, you might be able to see that I overlapped the paper and film, and it still went in.  Once you have the paper sticking in, find the round, notched gear on the side of the film canister (you can see it on the right in the above image).  If you are holding the film canister like you see in the above picture, rotate it counter-clockwise (backwards) until it begins to retract the log sheet.  Keep doing this until you get near the end of the sheet.  Like this:
You now have a 35mm film cache. Pull the tab out, sign the log, roll it back up.  You might want to put a small label on the film canister that points to the gear with instructions on how to roll it back up.  But what if a geocacher rolls it too far?  Well, there's a way to help protect against that too.  One thing is to put a label on the end of the log sheet that tells them when to stop rolling.  However, if the geocacher isn't paying attention, that won't help much.  So here's something else you can do. 

Get a small piece of paper, no wider than the logsheet.  You can always cut up a log sheet to about 1/3rd of it's original length. Then carefully fold up BOTH ends towards the middle, making a small thick tab.  Then, slide that over the end of the log sheet that sticks out and tape it down.  You've effectively made a brake for the log sheet.  As it is rolled up, when that hits the thin slit that the paper goes into, it will be too big to go any further, stopping a geocacher from rolling the log sheet up inside the container (which you will not easily get out unless you are familiar with working in a photo lab).  In this next picture, I've highlighted where I installed this "brake" in black:

So how would you use this idea?  Well, you can take any traditional 35mm film canister cache and put one of these inside to make it just a bit different. Those cachers expecting a baggie and a log sheet will be surprised at first.  But that's not all.  How about using it as part of a multi?  You can type up a message with the coordinates to the next stage and build one of these. Pull out the tab, get the coordinates, roll it back up and move on.  Maybe your stages involve answering questions.  This is an easy way to spice up the stages a bit.  One idea, that would seem strangely appropriate, is to use them in a multi with a "spy novel" element to them.  Sort of like finding a microfiche container that contains the secret clue to the mystery.  There are lots of ways you can incorporate this design into a variety of hides.


This container is NOT a good stand-alone cache.  The very slip in the container that allows the logsheet to come out will also let in moisture, especially with part of the paper sticking out.  That will absorb the moisture and provide it with an easy path to travel inside the container.  So any use of this design will require another container to put it into.  You can try using Rite-In-Rain paper, but moisture might still be a problem.  Now, I haven't tested this, so it's possible that it does better than I expect.  But then you also have the issue with potential rust.  Hmmm...maybe that's something I should test.  I have plenty of spares.

Any other ideas out there for how to incorporate this into a cache?


Erika Jean said...

oh I love this one!

webscouter said...

Hey Trip,

I have actually seen caches like this that used the film as a log. Buy a cheap roll of film and pull it out. You can write on it easily with a sharpie or gel pen.

Anonymous said...

The first time I saw one of these caches I was impressed with it's design and knew I wanted to make one of my own. Thanks for the directions. The one I found had a log sheet that looked like the real film only it was paper. I figure that maybe the photo copied the film it's self but I like the idea of using the real thing and a sharpie. Thanks for the directions and ideas! Chellelay