All about the Gakkenflex.

If you came here because you had a problem assembling the Gakkenflex, scroll down. This is my every day blog so I’ll be writing in chronological order. And yes, I can solve the spring/ shutter problem most of you have had. ๐Ÿ™‚

So today I went out shopping. I was meant to grab some essentials and stuff to do nail art with, but NO – FAR OUT – I had to do so much and carry so much crap around the city I didn’t even make it Dx

I wanted to buy a pair of Ugg boots because I stay up late and it’s getting cold. Yes, you read it right, I wanted them as house slippers. Recently I’ve been wearing sports socks and Havaianas Japanese Geta style. Very horrible without a yukata, but it did the trick.

Oh please don’t arrest me, Fashion Police ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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I couldn’t find the low ankle ones, and there was such a long line at Myer (30% off all boots – explains it all) I couldn’t be bothered. In fact, when I looked at the boots, the label on the back looked funny (did they overhaul their logo? I have no idea) and the general craftsmanship looked bad. There’s no way I’m paying that much for that. I could get something else instead with an actual REAL BRAND!

I then later went to Maruya (or is it Maruyu?) to buy my mum some plastic containers – 2 containers for $2.50 – BARGAIN! Then I headed to Kinokuniya for a browse. At the counter, something caught my eye: Otona no Kagaku – TLR INCLUDED INSIDE?! I had to just pick it up (stepped out of the queue) and bought it on impulse.

Went to Rogues to buy a pair of Paul Frank uggs (cheaper, does the job of keeping my feet warm, look nicer – I believe), went to Woolworths to pick up some groceries, and stood in sprinkling rain for about 20 minutes before my bus came.

I. Was. Exhausted.

My bag was heavy (put my Maruya/u stuff into it), I was carrying a LOT of stuff!

So this is what I ended up with today:

Julius is made of awesome. So is Gakkenflex, until it becomes a pest to assemble.

Honestly speaking I was most excited about the Gakkenflex because I really wanted to assemble it. Usually I have a tendency to buy things out of boredom, and in this case, boy would it be fun to assemble a camera!

I roughly remember M posting about the Gakkenflex being a tool to educate even just kids on how cameras work. You can read her posts here: CLICKYย and CLICKYย ๐Ÿ˜‰

Having said that, I roughly know how it works. Something has to expose the film, and then you turn it. Fair enough, but how does it work? I had no idea and I was keen to find out. Seems like it’s just a fairly simple spring mechanism that does the trick to everything.

I know a lot of people have been having trouble with not Spring C (the middle screw) as most people mistaken it to be. The problem generally lies in the smallest small spring on the left.

Here’s how the camera works: The left spring acts in tension to allow the shutter to close. The other two on the right act in compression to turn the shutter.

What happens if the shutter doesn’t open completely or if it doesn’t close quick enough? – Don’t fret. Assemble your lens first, and attach it to the front (just the bottom one will do). You’ll find that the shutter doesn’t need to open all the way – about 80% of the way is good enough – why? Because the pin hole at the front isn’t as big as you thought it was. That’s one reason why I took so long – I was trying to get it perfect. Try loosening and tightening and clicking the handle on the front. It takes trial and error.

What happens if the shutter doesn’t close automatically? The spring on the far left is acting in tension so you need to loosen the screw and trial and error.


Assemble the far left spring. Without putting the screw in place, position the shutter closed. With your finger just push it open and watch if the shutter springs closed. If it does, congratulations, your spring is in good working order!

Note that the higher the spring is on the vertical stick, the faster the shutter closes. Unfortunately the stick (or column or whatever you want to call it) does NOT have any grooves or anything to keep the spring up. With time, I noticed the spring had a tendency to slip down, elongating the spring, lessening the amount of spontaneous tension required.

So if you have had braces or know someone who has them, ask them for 2-3 elastics and tie it around the base so the spring has nothing to slip on. You may also use glue, but it might wreck the interior of the camera if you can’t set it properly.

Note the elastics (yellow bit) to stop the spring from slipping down.

Hit the shutter a few times and watch it spring back. Fast? Excellent. Screw it down (low enough so your middle spring installation can be turned and slotted in) and do it again to check. tighten the screws and with each tighten, just check it. Generally you need to screw it down fairly low – NOT TIGHT – but low, because something goes over this part and if that part doesn’t go flush due to a few elevated screws, the side panels won’t attach neatly. Make sure the middle screw isn’t too tight or loose and it ACTUALLY OPENS THE SHUTTER!

This is just common problem solving like what you do in a computer program or parametrics – do something, test if it works, before moving onto the next step.

The problem was, you usually didn’t know what the spring was for and how it was supposed to work (another language, no diagram to show), so you move onto the next step because it looks correct.

So, make sure that (1) The shutter closes by itself, quickly (2) The middle part is pushed by the right part and actually opens the shutter. And (3) the shutter closes by itself when you open the shutter. It’s as simple as that.

The biggest misconception is that you need to assemble from left to right. You can actually leave the far right spring and just take out the left and middle one. It doesn’t affect anything. In fact (this is somewhat embarassing) – I didn’t read the instructions and I snapped the front of the Gakkenflex (there’s a little bit that controls how far the shutter release handle goes) – but that didn’t affect anything at all.

Either way, if you find that you’ve done something like I did and elevated the base of the spring on the left, doesn’t matter how far down you screw (just not dead tight), the shutter will open and close relatively quickly. Perfection.

It actually took me about 5 hours to assemble this camera. It took a lot of trial and error, losing springs and screws and trying to find them on the floor, and trying to get everything perfect. The instructions were somewhat graphically counterintuitive (goes into detail AFTER they tell you what to do – so I have to undo it and redo it) and I was trying to get the shutter perfect. I had no idea how a shutter was meant to perform, so I was constantly nagging M about it and asking her how she got hers to work. Turns out my elevated spring idea may mean she will have to reassemble it after her roll of film for better camera functionality ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just a note – I can read drawings and I can also read Japanese and understand it. I was just too lazy to read the text (I eventually did when the shutter failed to work), but when M told me to reassemble the shutter from the start, I realised how the springs started to work, and that elevated base is essential to get a quick close of the shutter. Make sure when you assemble the camera that you try to understand the mechanism behind it – tension, compression – what matters and what doesn’t – and you will solve the problem eventually.

It was a nightmare to assemble – they actually gave a few extra screws and it came with a magnetic screwdriver. The screws were tiny and I was assembling the camera under very dim light levels. I was trying to be super careful after I snapped a bit of the front because I realised the plastic wasn’t so good.

Yes, there are a few problems with the parts and how they’re manufactured. If that stick had a thicker base, I wouldn’t have to go to all that trouble tying elastic bands (and that took a while – anyone who has had braces will know how small these bands are).

I’m highly sceptical of people who claim they assembled the camera in an hour – if they did it’s probably because they understand the mechanism and construction of a camera fairly well. Otherwise I highly doubt it, because the screws are tiny – your screwdriver wobbles, and then you lose the screw, tip it out and start again – maybe not even twice, but several times.

This was a lot more time consuming than I had expected it to be, which isn’t a good thing lol. The good thing though is that I have a good Gakkenflex in working order. Bought it at a bargain price and it was fun. I now understand how a camera works, and I have a TLR now. I’m considering decorating this camera – maybe during the holidays.

The finished product in a more sexier than usual phone camera shot. Pretty!

Btw, screwing/ turning those lens in HURT. Make sure you have a cloth near by. I used my jumper sleeve but sometimes it got caught in the gears >_< Also the worst thing about this kit is that they don’t give you a camera strap ๐Ÿ˜ฆ There are the ears for itย  but no strap Dx

I won’t load film into this until tomorrow perhaps. I want to show M how the shutter is working before I load film! I hope I get lovely shots out of it. I’m drooling at the ones in the magazine. Seriously pretty and amazing photos. LOVE.

PS: At this rate I might be converted to being a film gal lol. No more money for a digital camera – the film cameras are eating up my money >_<

I was so absorbed doing this that I forgot to hula hoop. DOH! But walking around the city so much probably did the trick. It’s 1:26am right now so I think I better sleep. I need to look nice later today… will blog ๐Ÿ˜‰ A BIG THANK YOU TO MAGGIE who had to put up with my complaining and for her help!

See you all!


6 thoughts on “All about the Gakkenflex.

  1. omg … I was googling how to build this camera because I’m assembling it at the moment and having problems with the shutter. >.< and your blog came up!

    In my google searches, people are like It's easy and I did it an hour. And 3 hours later here I still am!

    Having problems trying to get the shutter to open when you use the lever … XD Getting my brother to have a look at it. XD

    • Lol, getting the shutter to open? D: Usually the problem is getting the shutter to close fast enough lol. Usually it’s just tinkering with the spring and getting the screws the right tightness – if everything’s in the right order, you’ll be on the way to completion \o/ Hope your brother can help fix it ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Oh no D: Usually I do one bit at a time, try to open the shutter (to make sure it works) while I’ve still got the whole thing in front of me (I don’t close the case at all, I try the shutter while I’m looking at the whole mechanism). Usually it’s just the placement of the A B and C parts – after e very step, just make sure to hit the shutter and make sure it opens and closes – if you encounter difficulty then you know where the problem lies. I’m not sure if that’s much help, but if you need to rig the placement of the parts, rig it. I somehow managed to get it to work, but it wasn’t easy :\

  2. I was wondering if you could help me with mine? ๐Ÿ˜€ like for the viewfinder lens, once I put on the “lens finder holder” thing, the ring that goes in after the lens, they won’t stay, like they just fall out once I flip it over…is this normal? and what exactly is the orientation of the lenses? like i know that they’re flipped, but t he pictures in the instructions confuse me because I over think the simpleness haha…because it says the bulge must face down or something, but in the picture, the part that faces down is the part with the pronounced ridges, which isn’t the bulging side? I’m just really confused haha..

    • Hi Tiffany,

      Wow, it’s really been ages since I actually put together my gakkenflex, but the lens bulges outwards to the outside. That is, on the outside of the camera, you can feel the bulge. That’s what it’s like on my camera, anyway. So yeah, assembling it from the inside, the bulge should be facing down.
      And yeah, I don’t think the lens/ ring should fall out when you flip over your camera… but I could be wrong because there are more pieces inside of the camera which can actually hold your lens in place. I would dig out the instructions to double check but I haven’t got a clue where I’ve put them. But for one thing, I can say, have your lens bulging outwards ^^

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