When I first saw the Dakota disposable cameras at a locals camera store I knew I’d be buying a few so I could make a camera that only exists in my dreams, a digital stereo camera.
After seeing the Use the (PureDigital) Dakota Digital Camera with your PC, I ran out and bought a few of these $11 dollar gems and set to work hacking them up. I figured I’d write up how I did it in case anyone else wants to try it themselves. It’s a pretty easy hack all things told, but still darn cool.
Two $11(US) digital cameras. The idea is to add a USB port to each of them so I can build a cheap and dirty digital stereo camera…
This is the normal interface port. The pin layout is available on the ‘net. I’ll be soldering some wires to four of these pads:
Pin 10: Ground (Black)
Pin 9: Data – (White)
Pin 8: Data + (Green)
Pin 6: +5V (Red)
Some serial to USB converters [ oops, PS/2 to USB converters - John] . I salvaged these from some mice. Note the knife. This is an important part of every cool project, a knife…
Remove the green plastic and expose the port. Clean up and wires etc…
The USB jacks. Male A type. Two. I should have used the other gender then I could have used any old USB cable, but I would have had to buy the jacks. This way costs less.
Remember to keep your small parts in a safe place. I use a soy sauce dish. Yum… Soy sauce…
This is the mounting location. Carve a bit of plastic off the top and bottom of the case. Check for the correct fit.
This post needed to be cut down a tad, like totally removed.
You can see how the wires go under the battery case.
The USB jack installed with a hunk of sticky foam tape. Still need to carve a bit more off the back case.
Finished jack mod.
Lego parts are used as a quick mount. Hot glue was used to attach them.
Cross-eye image taken with the $22(US) digital stereo camera! The photos were taken by me hitting the shutters at the same time. Worked well. No moving objects help a lot here. I joined them in Photoshop. If the cameras had digital displays it would make life so much better, the lenses are not ‘true’ to the bodies to each one has a different center. Makes it a pain to crop and rotate them. Also, the cameras lenese are farther apart than a humans eyes are so the stereo effect is more pronounced in the images. I like it, gives you a giants eye view of things.
Photos with a flash must be done with care. If the shutters are activated too closely together one camera will pick up the others flash and over expose the top part of the photos. Took me a second to realize what was going on. I think the shutter speed is a fixed 1/60, but I’m not sure. The flash duration must be quite long. but what can you expect for dirt cheap cameras?
My final results from this experiment were promising but a little frustrating. I need to hack a little electronic shutter button to fire off both cameras at the same time. As each camera takes its own sweet time figuring out the exposures the times aren’t exactly the same. With an electronic control I might be able to take better photos with it.
I think that at this point there are some big improvements to make on the design but the idea is sound. And its cheap. That’s important as heck if you ask me. Hardly anything is cooler than building a practical project for next to nothing.
Things for future revisions:
- Use an adjustable arm. This will let me adjust the amount of seperation so I can take stereo images of big things like buildings.
- Electronic shutter sync.
- Better cameras. Yeah, I know that violates the entire cheap idea but what the heck.
- A spirit level. Good for keeping the horizon lined up.
- Tripod mount
- One flash. Bigger problem than the weird overexposure thing with the miss timed shutters. This will involve opto isolators for sure…
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