Tutorial: “DIY” Timecode Slate

This makes my third blog post about modifying and making film slates. At this point you might think I am obsessed with making the perfect film slate for my needs. You would be right. With each upgrade I add features that help out on set and my crews like it. I also apologize for not posting lately. I just wrapped on a show o have been on for the past 10 months and I just haven’t wanted to move from my couch. And as for the past week, I’ve been on a shoot in Costa Rica and WiFi is spotty at best.

Click for Tutorial 1 HERE

Click for Tutorial 2 HERE

A year ago I discovered the Microframe Master Sync D8010. It’s a portible timecode generator with an option to read/lock to external timecode. It also features an semi-large (medium) LCD display so you can see what the TC readout. What’s nice about that is it also uses that LCD display as a menu, no longer do you need to carry around a tiny screw driver and a chart just to set your TC dial. But honestly if you sync this to your audio recorder you really won’t ever use the menu once you’ve set it up the first time you take it out of its box. The menu offers sleep sisplay 5 sec – 60 seconds, brightness and framerate. You can also use it to generate your own TC and use it as a master for your whole set (I don’t suggest that, a lot of people are only getting about 5hrs before you see a +/-1 frame drift when compared to better clocks.) But as it stands it’s a great little GoPro/DSLR insert slate directly from the factory. Retails for $200 which makes it $50 less than the Tentacle Sync but that’s really comparing apples and oranges as they don’t offer the same features.

Now you might say, “Andrew! Just last month you were having a love affair with Timecode Systems and their Timecode Buddy units; what changed?” Nothing has changed. I still love Timecode Systems and you still could add a Timecode Buddy to this TC slate after the tutorial build is over. And there was one other aspect that made me buy this unit… another sound mixer was selling it used! So I got a great deal. Plus everyone on the online forums said how they would make a full size slate out of the Microframe, I just wanted to be the first to do it.


Items Needed:
Microframe Master Sync D8010 (D8009 works also but you won’t be able to do the super mod in part 2)
2’x2′ 5ply 1/2″ Plywood
Dumb Slate (I’m recycling the slate from the other tutorials)
Wood working tools (you know, saws and measuring things)
Safety Stuff

Step 1:

Measure your wood to match your slate. This needs to be done 3 times as we will stack them to build up out frame. The end result will be 15 sheets of criss crossing play wood which will give it amazing strength. A table saw will give you the straightest cuts.


Step 2:
Clean your slate. If you aren’t recycling your slate like me you can skip this stage.



Step 3:
Cut your slate in half. This cut will line up with where your two LCD lines meet on the Microframe. For me I did it just above the top black line on my slate. This way when I reassemble the face of the slate I will still have this line.

Step 4:
I wanted my LCD to be centered. I found the center mark of my slate and marked it with a wet erase marker. Don’t use permanent or dry erase. Now I also measured the center of my LCD display and marked the outside edge I needed to cuton the back of thee slate. Only cut into the slate 1″ max. Any further and your window will be too big. I used a plexiglass scoring tool to score a straight line between my marked lines.




Step 5:
Repeat this process for the bottom of your slate and use pliers to snap off the plexiglass tabs. If you scored it properly it should snap right off in a straight line.

Step 6:
Stack your wood together and lock it into place with 4x 1.5″ screws. This will keep it together and let you cut into them evenly.image

Loosely trace the D8010 onto your wood. Don’t worry about being exact as we will be adding foam to help cushion it but also make adjustments so it sits in the window perfectly.

Use a large drill bit and drill inside your penciled shaped. Use a jig saw with a fine wood blade to cut out your shape.


Step 7
Now place your slate onto your wood and clamp them together. Now we will combine the two. Drill slowly into your slate until you hit wood. Stop drilling! Leave undrilled wood so your screw has something to grab. I used self tapping wood screws, these help prevent splintering.


At this point you could stop; add foam, slide in your Microframe D8010/D8009, and call it done…. You could. You could run the edges of your built slate back through your saw blade so the edges are smooth and even. You could hit your sharp corners with sandpaper. You can also paint the wood black and maybe add white plexiglass that attaches with Velcro to keep the Microframe from falling out the back. You can add Velcro to the Microframe itself to keep it in place. You could drill a 1″ hole into the back white plexiglass where the center button on the Microframe sits so you can wake up the display without undoing the back…. You can do all of thoses things and at anytime you could call this build done….


Or you could be like me and keep going further. Some of you may have noticed a Lectrosonic transmitter in my workbench photo at the start of this blog post. But that… That is for part two of this tutorial. Part two is how I took this simple build and added to it to include: BNC ports, double battery life, and wireless timecode.



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