Introduction: 3D Printed Digital Camera

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

This is a 3D printed digital camera that you can build yourself. By making your own digital camera, it takes away some of the mystery around how such devices work, and are fabricated. Also, it allows you to fully customize the camera to your liking. You can expand the circuit to have new functionality, or design your own custom case by modifying the 123D Design build files.

While this may not be a high-resolution digital camera, it is nonetheless very rewarding. This camera allows you to not only build a tool, but be creative with it. Being that this iteration of the camera does not have a screen to preview the pictures, it operates a little bit like a traditional film camera in that you don't immediately know what the pictures look like. This adds a bit of surprise and excitement when the pictures are finally transferred to the computer from your SD card and you see what has transpired. In the age of immediate gratification, slowing down the creative process adds a bit of magic and mystery to the whole endeavor. In fact, all of the camera's imperfections and digital glitches give the pictures taken their own unique character. For all of these reasons and more, this camera is a ton of fun to shoot pictures with.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) Files for 3D Printing (see attached)
(x1) Radioshack JPEG Color Camera Board (obsolete - try this shield instead)
(x1) Seeed INT106D1P SD shield (replace with above suggestion)
(x1) Arduino Uno REV 3
(x1) SD card
(x1) Round PCB
(x1) SPST Tactile Switch
(x1) Misc. Heat Shrink Tubing
(x1) 9V battery snap
(x1) 9V battery
(x8) 1/4" x 4-40 bolts

(Note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This does not change the cost of the item for you. I reinvest whatever proceeds I receive into making new projects. If you would like any suggestions for alternative suppliers, please let me know.)

Step 2: 3D Print

The attached zip file has a set of advanced STLs designed to work with high-end printers (Objet Connex in particular), a set of simple STLs that should work better with consumer-level printers, and 123D Design build files so that you can modify the camera yourself.

That said, 3D print the camera body if you have not done so already.

If you don't have a 3D printer, you can use a service like Shapeways, i.Materialise, or Ponoko. I recommend sending them the STLs for the conusmer-level printers to ensure you get the correct print.

Step 3: Assemble

Line up the lid with the body of the camera.

Applying gentle and even force, push the pin into the socket for the camera's hinge until it is flush with the camera body.

Step 4: Insert

Insert the SD card into the socket on the SD shield.

Step 5: Solder

Solder the tactile switch to the center of the copper pads of the 0.63" diameter round PCB.

Solder a red wire to one side of the switch, and a black wire to the other side of the switch. If you are unsure which side is which, you can check with the continuity tester on a multimeter.

Step 6: Assemble Button

Slide the camera's trigger button into place from inside the camera.

Insert the round PCB into the track below the button, such that the top of the tactile switch is directly below the trigger button. They should be touching, but the trigger button should not be applying force on the switch. The switch needs to be able to bounce back after it has been depressed (as we all do).

Step 7: Trim and Solder

Trim the camera module's male header pins in half.

Solder a 6" red wire to power, a 6" black wire to ground, and 6" colored wires of your choice to both RXD, and TXD. In this example, white is connected to RXD and green to TXD.

Step 8: Install

Take the lens cap off of the camera module.

Insert the camera through the lens hole in the camera body.

Using the corner mounting holes, fasten the camera module to the camera body with 1/4" x 4-40 bolts.

Step 9: Program

Program the Arduino with the following code:

Step 10: Arduino

Fasten the arduino to the mounting holes on the inside of the camera lid using 1/4" x 4-40 bolts.

Step 11: Shield

Insert the SD shield into the appropriate Arduino sockets.

Step 12: Plug In

Plug the red wire from the camera module into the 5V socket on the SD shield.

Plug the black wire into the ground socket.

Plug the TXD wire into pin D0.

Plug the RXD wire into pin D1.

Step 13: Solder

Solder a red wire to the backside of the Arduino power jack.

Step 14: Resistance

Trim one of the leads of a 10K resistor in half, and plug it into the ground socket that is on the same side as the digital pins.

Bend the lead over, and solder the opposite lead to the solder pad that is electrically connected to Arduino pin D7.

Step 15: Switch

Plug the black wire from the switch PCB into the socket for Arduino pin D7.

Solder the red wire from the switch to the 5V pin on the SD shield.

Step 16: 9V Clip

Slide a piece of heat shrink tubing onto the red wire connected to the Arduino's power jack.

Solder the red wire from the power jack to the red wire from the 9V battery clip.

Cover this connection with heat shrink tubing and secure it in place with a heat gun.

Plug the black wire from the battery snap into the remaining ground socket on the SD shield.

Step 17: Battery

Plug the battery in, and then slide the battery into place snugly below the switch assembly.

Hold it firmly in place by slide the battery holder plate between the battery and the holder tabs on the top and bottom of the case.

Step 18: Close It Up

Shut the lid and press down on the locking tab to close the case. The camera should now be ready for use.

Step 19: Take Some Pictures

Go take some pictures. You can transfer them from the SD card to your computer when you are done.

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