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KOPIR   КОПИР
Mobile duplication camera

KOPIR was a small fixed-distance portable camera system, developed and built in the late 1980s by BelOMO in Minsk (Belorussia) 1 for use by the KGB, the PGU and other intelligence agencies of the former USSR. The camera was intended for covertly duplicating signatures, photographs, documents and small notes. It was probably one of the successors to the S-112 copy camera.

Like the F-21 camera (Ayaks), the KOPIR uses 21 mm film that is stored inside a special (supplied) film cartridge. The frame size is 18 x 24 mm and the Industar lens — the same one as used in the Yolochka camera — has a focal length of 30 mm.

The lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 whilst the automatic exposure is controlled by a photo-cell that is mounted aside the lens. The required film speed is set with the dial at the centre of the front surface [2]. The large handle at the rear is used to advance the film and cock the shutter, whilst a small index wheel counts the exposures.
  
Camera with open film compartment

A hand-held film cutter was supplied with the set, which allowed common 35 mm perforated film to be converted into 21 mm non-perforated film that can be loaded into the supplied empty film cartridges. The electronics and the lamps are powered by three internal 1.5V AA-size penlight batteries, that should be installed below the hinged flap at the front. The camera was delivered in a sealed white carton box, which included the camera, a booklet, film spools and a film cutter.

  1. At the time, Belorussia (Belarus) was part of the Soviet Union (USSR).

Sealed storage box Opened package Contents of the package KOPIR camera in wallet KOPIR camera (front) KOPIR camera (rear) Camera with open film compartment KOPIR ready for use
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Sealed storage box
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Opened package
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Contents of the package
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KOPIR camera in wallet
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KOPIR camera (front)
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KOPIR camera (rear)
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Camera with open film compartment
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KOPIR ready for use

Features
The diagrams below show the two main faces of the KOPIR camera: the front side and the rear side. When closed, the camera measures 16 x 8.5 x 4 5 cm. When unused, it is carried in a soft leather carrying bag, or wallet. When used, the camera should be loaded with three 1.5V AA-size battery cells and a fresh film cartridge. The protective cap is then removed from the bottom end and the hinged flap is opened. The camera is then placed with the opening over the desired area.


If necessary, the film is advanced to the next frame using the handle at the rear side. This also cocks the shutter. If the camera is correctly positioned, press and hold the shutter release button at one of the long sides for more than one second, to shoot the picture. This opens the lens and activates the automatic illumination circuit. When the red LED is fully on, the shutter release button can be released. Next, use the handle to prepare the camera for the next shot.


The camera is only suitable for copying small documents with a maximum size of 6 x 4 cm, such as a passport photograph or a signature. This was done, for example, by USSR customs, but also by intelligence services for copying credentials, ID cards and signatures.

Exposure counter Film speed selector Film transport handle and BelOMO logo Shutter release button Looking into the open end Hinged lid fully open Light bulbs and mirror
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Exposure counter
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Film speed selector
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Film transport handle and BelOMO logo
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Shutter release button
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Looking into the open end
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Hinged lid fully open
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Light bulbs and mirror



Contents of the package

Parts
Carton storage box
Box
Soft leather carrying case The actual duplication camera Film cartridges Film cutter Development adapter Spare parts Operating instructions
Storage box
The KOPIR camera was supplied in a white carton box that measures approx. 20 x 15 x 10.5 cm, and is sealed with two thin ropes and a glued paper seal. In order to open the box, the wires and the seal have to be broken.

All items are inside the box, which resembles a small shoe box, and weights approx. 1110 gr.
  
Sealed storage box

Wallet
When transporting the camera, it was usually packed inside a purpose made wallet in order to protect it against dust and damage.

An example of a suitable wallet is shown in the image on the right, but other types and colours are known to have been provided as well, all depending on the availability of suitable material in the Soviet Union at the time.
  
KOPIR camera in wallet

Camera
The image on the right shows the actual camera system. When folded/closed it measures approx. 16.5 x 8 x 4.5 cm. In order to protect the lens and the rest of the camera system against dust, a metal cap covers the opening (visible in the image at the left).

Before shooting pictures, the protective cap had to be removed and the hinged panel should be tilted. The camera was then placed with the opening covering the document that was to be copied.
  
KOPIR camera (front)

Film cartridges
KOPIR uses unperforated 21 mm film that is loaded into the film cartridge shown in the image on the right. The cartridge is then installed in the film compartment under the hinged list at the top of the camera.

Four empty film cartridges were supplied with each camera. They had to be loaded with suitable film in a darkroom prior to use. Suitable tools to do this, were also provided (see below).
  
Film cartridge

Film cutter
As 21 mm film was not readily available in a photo store, the small cutting tool shown in the image on the right was supplied with each kit. It allows standard 35 mm perforated film to be cut to 21 mm, by removing the perforated edge at both sides.

35 mm film was readily available in photo shops in Eastern and Western countries during the Cold War, and buying it would not attract attention.
  
Film cutter

Development adapter
In order to develop exposed films in daylight — using the so-called daylight development tank — the adapter shown in the image on the right was supplied. It makes the development tank suitable for the 21 mm film used with KOPIR.

The adapter is a standard accessory. It is made of plastic and has a diameter of 112 mm. The cylinder at the centre has a diameter of 26 mm and a length of 48 mm.
  
Film spool

Spares
Four small light bulbs are mounted inside the camera unit. They are used to provide a uniform lighting for the document under the camera.

As the light bulbs are a crytical part of the system — without them document copying is not possible — spare ones are supplied with the kit. They can be replaced in the field, but require the use of a soldering iron.
  
Spare light bulb

Operating instructions
Each KOPIR camera came with a personalized document, known as the passport (Russian: Паспорт) in which the serial number and the release date were (hand)written. The camera featured here, was released on 15 March 1993, just after the dissolution of the USSR.

The 14-page A5-size booklet also contains the circuit diagram of the electronic shutter system, plus full operating instructions.

 Download the booklet

  
Instruction booklet

Film cartridges Film cartridge Film spool Spare parts Metal clip Spare light bulb
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Film cartridges
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Film cartridge
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Film spool
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Spare parts
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Metal clip
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Spare light bulb

Bulk cutter
A simple handheld film cutter was supplied, to convert standard 35 mm perforated film into 21 mm unperforated film, suitable for KOPIR. The handheld cutter was provided only for ad-hoc purposes, in case the operator ran out of film.

In addition, professional cutting devices were available, to produce 21 mm film from 35 mm film in bulk, such as the one shown in the image on the right. It is crank-operated and accepts a standard 35 mm photo film cartridge.

 More information

  

Interior
Although the KOPIR is much better built than the S-221 document copier, its contruction is not solid and not well thought through. Various badly fitting parts are used and the paint is barely holding onto the metal, reflecting the state of the Soviet Union at the time the camera was made.

When installing the batteries, the hinged lid has to be opened fully. In order to access the inner circuits, the front case shell has to be removed. This is done by removing two recessed screws from the font (close to the film speed setting) and two at the sides, close to the large opening.

The image on the right shows the interior of the camera, in which the printed circuit board (PCB) is clearly visible. It is fitted around the Industar lens and controls the illumination time of the four light bulbs that are fitted close to the large opening, using small mirrors to project the light.
  
PCB with electronic circuit fitted around the lens

The electronic circuit and the lamps are powered by three 1.5V AA-size penlight batteries, but due to the way in which the battery holders are constructed, it is very easy to cause a full short-circuit, as a result of which one of the batteries 1 might eventually catch fire. The battery holders are a (very) tight fit, and inserting batteries is a challenge. Be careful not to damage the battery's isolation, as this will definitely cause a short-circuit, which happened when we tested our unit.


Above is the circuit diagram of the automatic illumination circuit. It is built around a Russian KM189XA1 integrated circuit (IC). The circuit is activated by pressing (and holding) the shutter release button. This opens the shutter and starts the timing circuit that is controlled by a light-depending resistor (LDR). The KT973B transistor turns the light bulbs and on and off again.

  1. This is particularly the case when using Lithium batteries, as they have a very high energy density. After inserting the batteries, check the camera for correct operation. If it doesn't work, removed the batteries immediately. Furthermore, NEVER leave the batteries in an unused or unattended device.

Hinged lid fully open, batteries visible Two batteries installed at the left One battery installed at the right Front case shell removed PCB with electronic circuit fitted around the lens Battery compartment and light bulbs Electronic circuit seen from the top Electronic circuit (detail)
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Hinged lid fully open, batteries visible
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Two batteries installed at the left
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One battery installed at the right
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Front case shell removed
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PCB with electronic circuit fitted around the lens
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Battery compartment and light bulbs
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Electronic circuit seen from the top
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Electronic circuit (detail)

Specifications
  • Lens
    Industar
  • Focal length
    30 mm
  • Aperture
    f/5.6 (max.)
  • Shutter
    Electronic (photo-cell)
  • Film
    21 mm unperforated
  • Frame size
    18 x 24 mm
  • Power
    3 x 1.5V AA-size battery
Documentation
  1. KOPIR certificate and operating instructions (Russian)
    Устройство Репродукционное Малогабаритное (Pocket reproduction device).
    Pasport. 1653.00.00.000 PS. Printed 12 March 1992.
References
  1. Atomic KGB Bunker, Kopir camera
    Lithuania, November 2017.

  2. Detlev Vreisleben, Kopir
    Via USSR Photo. Personal correspondence November 2017.

  3. A.B. Nefedov, KM189XA1 Datasheet
    Catalogue, RadioSoft, Moscow 2000. p. 162.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 30 November 2017. Last changed: Thursday, 30 November 2017 - 12:18 CET.
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