The things people can do with Raspberry Pis, especially when it comes to photography and video related projects, always fascinates me. And Adafruit has recently posted a very interesting project. It’s a camera that actually knows what it’s looking at. It’s based around Adafruit’s own BrainCraft HAT system, which is an AI Machine Learning addon for the Raspberry Pi 4. This project shows it in practical use in an actual project.
The problem with mobile phones is that if you need lights, you’ve usually got two options. The first is to simply deal with the underpowered, far-too-close-to-the-lens built in LED. Unless you’re using in the front camera, in which case that’s usually not an option. The second is to lug around all the usual LED lighting gear you’d use with regular cameras. In which case, you probably might as well just use a regular camera.
The folks over at Adafruit, though, have come up with a great project to help solve this. A 3D printed smartphone case with a built in LED ringlight. Not only does it wrap the light around your lens instead of being right next to it, but it also offers a fair bit more power. That it’s controlled by an Arduino also means that you can reconfigure the lights to give some neat effects.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Arduino for quite a few years now. It allows me control cameras and lights in ways that would be otherwise impossible. As an open source project based on the Atmel AVR microcontrollers, compatible boards come in all shapes and sizes now. One such incarnation is the Adafruit Trinket, a tiny Arduino clone based on the ATtiny85. It’s extremely small, and ideal for projects like this one.
To show off the Trinket’s abilities, the folks at Adafruit built a tiny timelapse camera. Using a mini spy camera module with a built in microSD slot, the Trinket controls all the timing for when shots are taken. The whole thing fits inside a matchbox, but Adafruit are a little more practical than that. They designed a custom case for 3D printing and made the plans for that available, too.
The Raspberry Pi is amazing. Instant cameras are also amazing. So, it makes sense that somebody would eventually combine them, creating a Raspberry Pi powered instant camera, which is exactly what Adafruit have done.
Ok, so you’re not going to be getting lab quality prints from this, and the Impossible Project might be more your style these days, but this is still a fun and interesting little project.