Rollover reproduction camera
RUBIN (Russian: РУБИН) 1 was a so-called rollover – or brush –
developed around 1970 as a civil variant of the secret
cameras, that were used by intelligence services like the
It was intended for (covertly) copying photographs, documents, fingerprints,
stamps and other flat objects, at airports and border crossings,
but was ultimately a commercial failure, due to its rather heavy weight
and its extremely high price tag of $27,000 .
Nevertheless RUBIN is a good camera system that fixes many of the problems
and flaws that plagued the earlier ZALOM, in particular its problems with
film loading and film transport.
RUBIN uses 16mm non-perforated film, of which 5 metres can be loaded into
the supplied film cartridge.
A pre-loaded cartridge is installed in the
camera within seconds, and allows up to 175 A4 pages to be scanned with
a single charge, assuming that the text on the A4 page (297 x 210 mm) is not
wider than 200 mm. Drawings and photos were often scanned in 2 or
The camera is normally powered by five internal C-size 1.2V NiCd batteries,
but also has a socket for connection of an external
power supply unit (PSU).
It was supplied in a leather zipper bag
and came with an
and an inspection report (passport).
Although the camera was a further development of
secret KGB cameras like
it was not very successful, as it was rather heavy and expensive.
Nevertheless it was in production from 1970 to at least 1987.
Based on the manufacturing codes on various components inside the device
featured here, our RUBIN camera was produced as late at 1987. It is likely
that by that time it had received a mid-life upgrade, as the internal
electronic circuit is different from the 1983-one in the manual [A].
RUBIN is Russian for Ruby.
The diagrams below give an overview of the features on the body of the
RUBIN camera. The device has a wide gap at the bottom, behind which an
optical system with mirrors and lenses is located. In parallel with the
gap, are two rubber rollers that must be moved over the document.
When starting, the camera has to be placed over the document, with the gap
at the edge of the paper, about one centimeter from the start of the text.
As soon as the device is moved in the direction of the white arrow, the
electronic circuit is activated and the internal lights come on. This is
indicated by a red LED at the top. The camera should be moved at a
of approx. 9 cm/s to obtain the best result. A proper speed should be
indicated by the green LED.
Once the pass over the document is completed, the camera can be lifted from
the page, and the camera will be turned off automatically. The device can be
powered by five internal 1.2V NiCd batteries, or by an external 6V DC source,
typically from the (optional) power supply unit (PSU).
The camera can hold up to 5 metres of non-perforated 16 mm film, that
should be installed in the film cassette – or cartridge – shown in the
image on the right. A simple film cutter was supplied, to allow regular
35 mm perforated film to be adapted for use with the RUBIN camera.
An arrow indicator at the top of the cartridge, shows the amount of unexposed
film that is left on the supply reel (in metres). The cartridge can be opened,
by pushing the aluminium button towards the rear.
Each camera was supplied with four film cartridges that should be pre-loaded.
If an A4-size page can be scanned in a single pass (i.e. if the text or image
is not wider than 200 mm), each cartridge with five metres of film should be
sufficient for scanning 175 pages. With three additional pre-loaded cartridge
is his pocket, a spy could copy as much as 700 pages!
RUBIN is build on a strong die-cast aluminium chassis that is accessible from
two sides. One side – on which the name RUBIN (РУБИН) is printed – can be
accessed by the user, in particular for swapping the film cartridge, for
cleaning the Industar lens and for installing the five batteries.
This side can be accessed by rotating the knob on the hinged lid (close to the
bottom side of the camera) from the white dot to the red dot ( ● ),
after which the lid can be opened as shown.
At the left is the battery compartment which accepts five C-size NiCd cells of
1.2V each. At the top right is the film cartridge, that must be installed in
such a way, that the film is guided over the
rubber roller at the bottom right.
For this, the guide mechanism – to the right of the rubber roller – must be
disengaged temporarily. After installing the film, it must be re-engaged.
At the bottom left is the serial number (N80023) which is engraved in the body
of the camera. To its right is the painted number '82' which probably refers
to the year of manufacturing. 1 This is corroborated by the manual, which was
printed in 1983 [A].
At the bottom centre is part of the optical system, with the Industar f/2.8
lens facing right, where the film is guided past the roller.
The other side of the camera (the rear) is more difficult to access.
First, the outer cover must be taken off by removing two recessed screws at
the top, and two larger bolts inside the front compartment. This gives access
to the primary light path
and the first (wide) surface mirror.
Next, the inner cover should be taken away by removing three small screws
at the bottom and two inside the rear compartment. The secondary light path
is now exposed as well. This situation is shown in the image on the right,
with the first mirror visible at the far side, near the top edge.
The light from the (smaller) second mirror,
via a (sloped) third mirror onto the lens optics
located at the
other side (front) of the device.
At the bottom of the camera (here shown at the front)
is an axle with two rubber rollers and a
friction switch. The friction
switch enables the internal lighting as soon as the rollers are set in motion,
whilst the rubber rollers themselves are resonsible for the film transport.
At the end of a scan, the friction switch is disengaged and the lights are
A sensing switch in the film path causes an alarm when the film has run out.
From manufacturing codes on the electronic components, we know that the
device featured here, was made as late as 1987. It is quite possible though
that the mechanical parts (in particular the chassis and the lens optics)
were manufactured in bulk in 1982.
The 5-pin 180° socket at one side of the camera, can be used for connection of
an external power supply unit (PSU). The socket has a built-in switch that can
disconnect the internal batteries, which can be useful if non-chargeable ones
- not connected
- (+) 6V
- not connected
- not connected
1963Renamed Alycha II
1975Improved version of Granitnik
FT-68 Type 1?
FT-68 Type 2?
- 1 x Reproduction device (Rubin camera)
- 2 x Illuminator
- 4 x Film cassette
- 1 x Power supply unit
- 1 x Film cutter
- 1 x Storage case (wallet)
- 1 x Spare parts (4 x lamp, 2 x fuse)
- 1 x Instruction booklet
- 1 x Passport
The following items are currently missing from our RUBIN camera:
- Additional film cartridge (3 x)
- External power supply unit
- Film cutter (16 mm)
- Spare parts (4 x lamp, 2 x fuse)
DistanceFixed, contact type
LensIndustar with fixed aperture
Focal length19 mm
Film length5 metres max.
Film width16 mm (unperforated)
Frame width15.3 mm
Field width200 mm
Scanning speed90 mm/s
Pages52 or 175 A4-size pages (297 x 210 mm)
Light source4 x lamp OP3-0.25 (CU3.371.896 TU)
Batteries5 x A343
Dimensions204 x 162 x 51 mm
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Wednesday 22 November 2017. Last changed: Monday, 07 January 2019 - 17:49 CET.