DIY Lighting Projects-------------Repairing 3" Kinetic Cassettes

Inevitably from time to time, a favourite 3" cassette will suffer from a broken glass. This can be devastating to your collection, especially if the effect is no longer available. Not to worry though, you can fix it or indeed create a completely new design using your own graphics with the method described. (Note that this will work for 6" wheels too! experimentation needed for best results).

OK so what do i need to perform these miracles? Well you will need a piece of replacement glass, this is 1mm thick and should be cut to the exact size of the original broken piece. You will need a high resolution scanner or a camera with at least 3mpix resolution. A PC and some photo editing software (I use Photoshop). To make the decal you will need some 'Decal' Paper (water slide and type to suit your printer, easily got from hobby or craft shops/eBay etc). I recommend printing with a colour laser having a 1200pix resolution or better, however if the effect image is something not too complicated, say a silhouette type image, you can use an inkjet printer, though for monochrome a monochrome laser would be much better and give deeper blacks.

1.Shown left is my very broken glass in the 3" cassette. You need to carefully remove the ball race and then the broken pieces of glass as shown to the right. Release the glue holding the ball race in place using a thin craft blade or safety blade. BE CAREFULL and take your time here, we do not want to cause further damage!
2. Once removed place the broken glass (if there are multiple pieces, tape them together with clear tape) on your scanner and scan the image. If your scanner allows choose 600 dpi resolution and scale the output to +4 (400%). Choose TIFF file type as output. You should have something like the image to the right. Print this in colour as a reference for when we later re-colour the finished image.
3. OK so now we have a VERY large file, but good resolution to allow clean edges and no pixilation problems. Next you need to remove all the colour elements and make this a monochrome image. Turn the sections that had colour to white. Clean up all the broken lines where the glass cracked and make the image good and high contrast (clean whites and deepest blacks)
4. The completed image should look like the one on the left. We now need to re-colour the image. If you are using a colour laser, it is worth doing a test print or two on acetate to get the right colours. The printer toner was intended for reflective colour properties and we are using it's transmissive properties, so there may be some difference. Inkjet inks are just about the same both ways but it is still worth doing a test. The finished image is shown here to the right.
5. OK now time to print!! Put the decal sheet (after removing protective cover sheet) into the printer. You must adjust the printer output so it will print the image to the original size divided by 4 (remember we scaled the image up!) If unsure test print size by printing on paper and place original glass over the printed image to gauge size before printing onto decal sheet.
6. Cut the image section from the sheet. The remainder of the sheet can be used for further images later, or you can make a print file containing many images to fill the sheet. You now need to cut the actual image out using scissors or a craft knife, to the exact size needed for the glass. If you have used an inkjet you will need to 'fix' the ink with a spray lacquer (see your art/craft shop). It must be waterproof!
7. Put a small amount of water into a saucer or similar vessel and place the now cut to size decal in the water. Following the decal makers instructions, leave the decal for 30 to 60 seconds until the image can be slid from the backing sheet. Remove from the water. Now carefully slide the image onto the glass (the glass must be clean and de-greased). Use a squeegee or press with a cloth to remove all air bubbles and leave to dry for about 2 to 3 hours.
8. Once dry you can handle the finished glass. DO NOT force drying by blowing with hot air or placing in a hot place, the decal may shrink and be damaged! Your finished glass should be good to go now. See images to the right. You are now ready to rebuild the cassette.
9. Shown left is the glass glued back into the ball race. To the right you see the wheel re assembled ready for use. When gluing, fix the glass using contact type adhesive. Ensure you remove any old glue and the surfaces are clean. Ensure no glue penetrates the ball part of the race. When gluing the race back into the case, do not go overboard with the glue, spot it in three places to allow easier removal.
After the glue has dried (I know you can't wait but it is best if you do). Fit your wheel onto a rotator and project it. Shown left is the above wheel projected after repair. As you can see the image quality and colour is pretty close to the original before it had a tumble onto a sharp corner. If you want even better colours, simply print the image using a mono laser (600dpi or better and if possible deepen the blacks) then hand colour the decal with glass paints. These are available from craft supplies and are very translucent. Get a good make to avoid fading, use a good magnifier and a fine brush. You need a steady hand for this though. Have fun making your own patterns why don't you, or resurect that bleached out worn out cracked image on your old effect wheel. I do not claim this method will give the same quality as an original, but it comes very close as you see.
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Copyright © M.Ginda 2008

 Page Updated 15 June 2008