It’s high time us Muggles got our hands on the hardware used to take Magical Photographs as seen in The Daily Prophet. The first pioneering step in that direction has been taken by [Abhishek] who built this moving picture taking polaroid-ish camera, which he’s calling the “Instagif NextStep”. It’s a camera that records a short, three second video, converts it to GIF and ejects a little cartridge which displays the animated photo.
This amazing piece of hardware has been painstakingly built, and the finished product looks great. The nice thing about building such projects, in [Abhishek]’s own words, is that “it involves a bunch of different skill sets and disciplines – hardware, software, 3D modeling, 3D printing, circuit design, mechanical/electrical engineering, design, fabrication etc that need to be integrated for it to work seamlessly.”
His delightful photo album has lots of pictures detailing the build from start to finish. The enclosure and all of the internal mechanical parts are 3D printed but require access to a SLA printer. The electronics BoM is a pretty long list. The main camera, called CamPi, has a Raspberry Pi 3 with its companion camera module, a 2.8” TFT screen, a 10000 mAh power bank, a servo and a bunch of assorted parts. The GIF cartridge, called SnapPi, has its own Raspberry Pi Zero W, another 2.8” TFT screen, a 400 mAh LiPo and a boost charger. Several of the modules had to be trimmed in size and many unnecessary parts removed to make it all fit together.
The two Pi’s form an ad-hoc network with each other for communication and data transfer. Most of the work is done by Python and Node scripts communicating over RPC. When the shutter button is pressed, a three second video is recorded on the CamPi. It is converted and compressed before being sent over the network to the SnapPi. A slow fade in is the hallmark of Polaroid photos, and the SnapPi emulates this by implementing one of two different methods (selected in code) to achieve the fade in effect. Essentially, he is generating a GIF with gradually increasing opacity. This in itself is an awesome hack.
He has documented all of the problems that he faced and describes how he solved each of them, making the task of replicating this camera easier. Plus, there’s a few handy guides in there for those new to hacking such as how to make your own printed circuit boards and how to setup a Raspberry Pi from scratch. If looking at this has you itching to build one, worry not. [Abhishek] has not only published the photographs with descriptions, but provided a detailed BoM with links and everything else required to build this is available from his GitHub repository.
If you’d like to see more of [Abhishek]’s projects, check out Peeqo, the Animatronic Head Responds with Animated GIFs.
Thanks for tipping us off on this, [Hobson].
Sauce in the gallery