Adrian Hanft is our favourite kind of maker: weird. He’s also the guy who invented the Lego camera, 16 years ago. This time, he spent more than a year creating what he describes as “one of the strangest cameras you may ever hear about.”
What’s with all the straws?
OK, here’s why it’s weird: it takes photos with a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera through a ‘lens’ of tiny drinking straws packed together. 23,248 straws, to be exact, are inside the wooden box-shaped bit of the machine above. The camera itself sits at the slim end of the black and white part. The Raspberry Pi, power bank, and controller all sit on top of the wooden box full of straws.
Here’s what an image of Yoda looks like, photographed through that many straws:
Ground glass lenses
The concept isn’t as easy as it may look. As you can see from the images below, if you hold up a load of straws, you can only see the light through a few of them. Adrian turned to older technology for a solution, taking a viewfinder from an old camera which had ground glass (which ‘collects’ light) on the surface.
Even though Adrian was completely new to both Raspberry Pi and Python, it only took him a week of evenings and weekends to code the software needed to control the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.
An original Nintendo controller runs the show and connects to the Raspberry Pi with a USB adapter. The buttons are mapped to the functions of Adrian’s software.
What does the Nintendo controller do?
In his original post, Adrian explains what all the buttons on the controller do in order to create images:
“The Start button launches a preview of what the camera is seeing. The A button takes a picture. The Up and Down buttons increase or decrease the exposure time by 1 second. The Select button launches a gallery of photos so I can see the last photo I took. The Right and Left buttons cycle between photos in the gallery. I am saving the B button for something else in the future. Maybe I will use it for uploading to Dropbox, I haven’t decided yet.”
A mobile phone serves as a wireless display so he can keep an eye on what’s going on. The phone communicates with the Raspberry Pi connected to the camera via a VPN app.
Follow Adrian on Instagram to keep up with all the photography captured using the final camera, as well as the prototypes that came before it.