PiNoculars – A Farseeing Pi Camera

The Raspberry Pi camera provides a 5 megapixel resolution with still images of up to 2592 x 1944 and multiple video modes including 2592 x 1944 at 15 frames per second. With it being mounted on a small board it is ideal for using in hacks. [Josh Williams] mounted the camera on the lens of binoculars to capture some startling images, including this squirrel.

The camera is installed on a custom, laser cut mount that fastens to one eyepiece of the binoculars. The Pi itself is mounted above the binoculars. An LCD touch screen from Adafruit allows [Josh] to select the image and adjust the focus. Snapping pictures is done using either the touch screen or switches that come with the screen.

The Instructable [Josh] wrote is extremely detailed and includes two different ways of mounting the Pi on the binoculars. The quick and dirty method just straps on with tape. The highly engineered method delves into Inkscape to design a plywood mount that is laser cut. For portable operation, [Josh] uses one of the ubiquitous battery packs meant for USB charging.

Basic setup of the Pi and camera are in a video after the break.


26 thoughts on “PiNoculars – A Farseeing Pi Camera

  1. That’s awesome what ideas people put into action.

    I don’t know if this is a trend or not but it appears that 3D printing is starting to take a back seat to other production methods. I’ve noticed a number of hacks lately that are making use of laser cut parts rather than 3D printed parts.

    It blows me away to see the accessibility of different techniques been made available to large segments of the community rather than just a few industrialists.

  2. So its just a digiscoping rig for the pi? I’m not one to say this but how does this qualify as a hack? Just a week ago I strapped an old Android cell to my telescope to do some star shots with it. While I doubt there are alot of kits out there to do that with a pi (probably none), any camera could have been used to virtually the same effect and I doubt anyone would have even noticed or cared. Is it just because there’s a pi involved?

    1. “So it’s just a x” can be applied to every article on HaD. If you only like to read about hacks that are indescribable, then how exactly would they write articles about them?

      1. I like to read about all sorts of “hacks” but seriously this is just digiscoping with a pi. My idea of a hack is an unusual, maybe one of a kind fix to a problem or task that nobody may have thought of before. Its the uniqueness of the thing that makes it a hack. Strapping a Pi camera to some binoculars is not unique. Even cutting the mounting bits with a laser cutter is not unique. It almost certainly just me, but I dont feel this project is a hack, nothing unique was done, nothing new accomplished.

    2. There is always another type of material/method/object/language/… that can be used to do “x”. This is where we live and play. How many different ways can you create a digiscoping rig for binoculars? Not something I have spent a whole lot of time thinking about but there are probably a lot of ways (understatement). Are some ways blessed by the Hacking Gods as “an hack worthy of an article” and some not? I don’t know and don’t really care. I can still appreciate the materials/methods/objects/languages… used to do “x”.

      1. Ok, they made a laser cut to fit onto the binoculars. A minor hack perhaps. Sheesh, you guys are way too critical. I thought it was a cool article, especially on getting Raspberry Pi to work with a camera and LCD. I just bought a few Pi Zeros and plan to hook them up to cameras/LCDs, so this article is relevant.

  3. You can do this without the laser cutting. buy a Pi camera with a “C-mount” lens mount and then get a telephoto C mount lens.

    you will end up with a far better image and if you pick the right lens data lines you can adjust the iris and focus from.

    That way if you are building a very long range wildlife webcam you can have something that is a lot more stable and better image.

      1. All you need to do is look up the lens thread diameter of the pi lens and find a c mount adapter that fits that particular thread diameter. Then pick a C mount lens, probably a CS due to the longer focal length in that type, and mount it all together. Personally I think the whole thing is better done with a regular telescope, even a field scope with a digiscope adapter. Nikon makes an adapter for their line of field scopes that work quite well.

      1. I don’t know about “good” lens, but I got two CCTV lenses from old cameras a factory was decommissioning. Dad worked there, thought maybe I could fit an adapter to them to make them fit something. Focal length was too short for me to put them to use, so they are still sitting on a shelf.

        Just make friends anywhere with a CCTV and ask for the lenses when they decide to upgrade. Sure, it helps to be known as that “quirky photographer who uses a pringles can for a lens” (actually a bellows macro tube) but it works!

    1. For the money of a c-type lens and a raspi and a power-pack and a raspi camera with c-mount you reach the amount of money that buys you a camcorder or cheap camera with a built-in zoomlens, which probably has stabilization of it’s actually usable. (absence of stabilization means it can really only be use mounted on a tripod or attached to a stationary object).

      the raspi though has the advantage of processing and enabling a web server in the device itself. Many camera manufacturers unfortunately are rather propriety with their ‘connected’ stuff in cameras, if they have wireless at all.

    1. i really wish HAD had “like” or “upvote”. besides a good lul. i too think this is interesting, but not exactly a front page worthy hack. it’s like b-roll. beginner hack. regarding 3d printing vs laser: it would be much easier to get an ergonomic form from a 3d print than lasering flat stock.

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