Feb 5, 2017 | By Julia

Ever wanted to build your own camera but don’t know where to start? Open source hardware company Adafruit has just posted a new guide for constructing your own mini spy camera.

Although relatively low resolution, the miniature camera module is portable, features an integrated driver, and stores everything on a microSD card. The entire thing is housed within a basic 3D printed case. According to Adafruit, the mini camera is ideal for taking time-lapse videos, but is suitable for a decent range of various photo-based projects.

The new gizmo comes in the midst of several recent breakthroughs in photo-imaging technology and 3D printing. Just last month, we told you about the UK designer behind a new 3D printed camera rig for photographers with disabilities. In the science community, new research has shown how some basic 3D printed equipment can turn a simple smartphone camera into a powerful laboratory microscope.

Adafruit’s mini spy camera takes another important step in that general direction: by teaching users how to build their own equipment, the guide not only shows how 3D printing and photography can be brought together in exciting new ways; it also spreads that knowledge around, proving that even beginner DIYers are capable of innovating in these areas.

On that note, let’s dig into the details. The mini spy camera module has an integrated driver, and Adafruit assures us it’s very easy to use. The camera sensor itself can capture 1280 x 960 photos, and 480p videos. That means that, while not an HD camera, the gadget is more than suitable for small photo-based projects. All data is stored on a microSD card, and can hold up to 32GB.

All the required components are relatively simple. To build the camera you’ll need a 100mAh lithium polymer battery, slide switch, an Adafruit Trinket, Trinket Lipo Backpack, microSD memory card, and a Mini Spy Camera Module which Adafruit sells for $12 USD.

components of the mini spy camera

Construction tools are fairly straightforward as well. You’ll need access to a desktop 3D printer and some filament, a soldering iron, 30AWG Silicone cover stranded wares, wire cutters, flush diagonal cutters, a mini vise, the Helping Third Hand tool, and a hobby knife.

required tools

Because the project uses only a $12 camera module, the image quality won’t be a replacement for your iPhone camera photos. But what the mini spy camera lacks in resolution it makes up for in portability and size. The gadget is only slightly bigger than a gopro camera, making it ideal for tricky positioning or, as the name suggests, whatever DIY espionage you’ve been planning. Camera settings are non-adjustable, meaning everything is automatic.  

Check out the full guide here. Happy snapping!



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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