Bake your own Pi camera: Interchangeable lenses come to Raspberry’s DIY computer board


posted Monday, August 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM EDT


DIY fans, this one's for you: If you've ever looked at your digital camera and wished you could have bought the components and made it yourself, well... now you can! A new Kickstarter project from the United Kingdom promises all the parts necessary to make one of several interchangeable-lens digital cameras.

In all, there are four different kits you can choose from -- for the SnapPiCam Compact, SnapPiCam Adventurer, SnapPiCam MegaZoom, and SnapPiCam MegaZoom Plus. Each includes a Raspberry Pi development board, five-megapixel camera addon, MicroSD card slot, and 1,200mAh LiPo battery pack. They also work with various magnetically-attached interchangeable lenses, or lens-free, relying on the camera module's built-in lens. Beyond this, features vary.

Your SnapPiCam kit comes as a pile of parts. You get the fun of putting them together.

The SnapPiCam Compact is the most basic model, lacking an LCD monitor. For £99, you'll get everything needed to assemble the camera, including your choice of a 0.67X wide macro lens or a 180-degree fish-eye lens. Step up to £149, and you'll add a 2.8-inch LCD touch screen, battery gauge more powerful charger, and standard tripod mount in the SnapPiCam Adventurer.

The SnapPiCam MegaZoom offers an anodized aluminum lens mount, which can be used to attach the provided manual focus, 4x-12x zoom lens, and costs £199. Finally, the SnapPiCam MegaZoom Plus replaces this lens with a more powerful 6x-18x zoom lens for £24. And if you prefer, you can buy just the laser-cut body parts and bold anchors to make the body for each model, supplying your own Raspberry Pi and accessories. (In this case, you'll pay £30-45.)

The top-end model is the SnapPiCam Plus, shown with accessory lens mounted. It will also accept magnetically-mounted lens accessories.

Could you buy a camera elsewhere that's cheaper and offers better image quality? Almost certainly, but that's not the point. These are relatively low-volume, handmade kits for those who love to tinker for tinkering's sake, as is the Raspberry Pi itself. And we have to say, it looks like a rather fun weekend project!

More details on the Kickstarter page.