Friday, February 3, 2017

PIX-E Gif Camera


The "GIF-MAKING CAMERA" announcement on the cover of Make: volume 55 immediately caught my eye, and the easy-to follow directions convinced me that it would be a great project to cut my teeth on the Raspberry Pi, specifically the tiny Pi Zero.

While I waited for the hardware to be delivered I 3D printed the housing on my Replicator in blue and translucent red ABS. The parts were refined and very well designed and printed beautifully.




I used these helpful directions to set up the Raspberry Pi Zero to run headlessly after connecting it to my router with a USB to ethernet dongle. It helped immensely that I run Linux on my daily laptop and knew my way around the command line and filesystem. It was surprisingly easy to get the Pi Zero up and running with the required packages. The small form factor and zippy Linux distribution really intrigued me: I can foresee using this device more often.


While the article included a circuit diagram, I found a Pi Zero pinout to be very helpful since I soldered the PowerBoost directly to the Pi Zero and needed to know to which of the GPIO pins I needed to connect.

The camera, Pi Zero, and battery fit beautifully inside the housing (again, the design refinement was evident); the battery even snapped into the housing!



I added to the project by designing a lanyard bracket that can be attached with two 16mm M2 machine screws: since the camera is bulky, it's nice to be able to hang it from my wrist when not taking photos.


The Python script that makes the magic happen takes six photos fifteen milliseconds apart, hands them off to imagemagick, and churns out a gif. Sometimes imagemagick does not properly process the images and creates 0K gifs, but that is kind of like the disposable film camera that inspired this project.

The oversize power button, while awesome looking, tends to get flipped when I stuff the camera in my bag. I have resorted to taping it in the off position.

Here are a few of my photos.





I would highly recommend this project for anyone interested in photography, 3D printing and the Raspberry Pi. The Python script can be customized and changed, the housing is a fun 3D print, and the results are whimsical!

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