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Automate analogue film scanning with Raspberry Pi and LEGO

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This automated analogue film scanner runs on a Raspberry Pi and LEGO bricks. BenjBez took to Reddit to share this incredible lockdown project, which makes processing film photographs easier.


Video by Benjamin Bezine

Benj explains:

“When doing analog photography, scanning is the most painful part – RoboScan tries to make the whole workflow easier, from the film to the final image file.”

Mesmerising, isn’t it? We don’t know why we want it, we just do. We love it when new technology supports traditional methods with hacks like this. It reminded us of this Raspberry Pi powered e-paper display that takes months to show a movie.

How does it work?

a 3 D rendering of the LEGO parts used to make the scanner
A 3D rendering of the LEGO parts used to make the scanner, from Mecabricks

The film roll is fed through the LEGO frame and lit by an integrated LED backlight. Machine learning detects when a photo is correctly framed and ready for scanning, then a digital camera takes another photo of it. RoboScan downloads the photos from your digital camera as soon as they are taken. Only 80 photos were used to train the Raspberry Pi and Benj has shared the model here.

This is what the machine learning sees. In purple are the tentative complete frames

But I only take digital photos anyway…

Most of us rely on our phones these days to capture special moments. However, we bet loads of you have relatives with albums full of precious photos they would hate to lose; maybe you could digitise the negatives for safekeeping using this method?


Benj is still working on his creation, sharing this updated version a few months ago

Best of all – it’s all open source and available on GitHub.

Thanks, Electromaker!


Skip to 16 mins 37 seconds to watch electromaker’s take on this project

We love our lovely friends at Electromaker and we found this project through them. (They found it on Reddit.) They release a new video every week, so make sure to subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss out.

Website: LINK

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