Raspberry Pi Camera Instantly Develops Pictures into Digital Frame

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Max Van Leeuwen)

It's always cool to see Raspberry Pi projects that recycle old hardware, and this project, created by maker and developer Max Van Leeuwen, is a fine example of how you can not only restore a broken device with a single-board computer, but also add new features it couldn’t have had before. He’s used a couple of Raspberry Pis to transform a non-functioning Polaroid camera into one that instantly develops pictures to a remote digital picture frame.

The Pi has turned the old analog camera into a digital camera that works with the Internet of Things. It communicates with the digital picture frame — which is also fitted with a Pi using Wi-Fi. As long as the two devices are connected to the internet, the camera is able to send pictures instantly to the remote frame as soon as they’re taken.

The frame was created to be a gift for Van Leeuwen's grandmother, so he paid extra attention to ensure the end results were well finished. The frame features an E ink screen so it will retain the last image even if power is lost. This also adds a little bit of an old school effect thanks to the grainy image quality.

The hardware used in this project consists of an old Polaroid camera that’s been fitted with a Raspberry Pi 3A+. The Pi inside has a battery for portability as well as a camera module for capturing images. The frame is also using a 3A+ and features a 7-color eInk panel with a resolution of 600 x 448px.

Van Leeuwen was kind enough to make the project open source so all of the code used in its development is available at GitHub to explore. It’s primarily driven by some custom Python scripts. It covers the image capturing side of the Polaroid camera as well as the “developing” features of the digital frame.

If you want to read more about this Raspberry Pi project, check out the full project breakdown over at Van Leeuwen’s blog. There he details the construction process in greater detail and shows it in action. Be sure to follow him for more cool projects as well as any future updates on this one.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.