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Raspberry Pi Powers 3D Printed Smart Pokédex

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Sam Makes)

Using a 3D printer to make your own cosplay props is one thing but using a Raspberry Pi to give it functionality is the kind of thinking that really gets us excited. Over at the Sam Makes channel on YouTube, maker Sam has instilled life in a homemade Pokédex from the Pokémon franchise.

In the series, this gadget is used to recognize things like Pokémon and trainers, speaking aloud with an explanation for whatever it’s currently pointed at. This isn’t the first Pokédex we’ve covered, either. In the past, we shared a Pokédex gaming handheld project but it was used mainly as a shell for a RetroPie rig. Sam’s project, known as The Dex, works more like the original Pokédex from the series.

To use the Dex, users point the handheld’s camera at an object or creature, press a button, and wait for the device to explain more about what they’re looking at. It has a custom interface and uses text-to-speech to read text out loud which explains what the identified object is.

The whole operation is powered by a Raspberry Pi 4 B which is housed inside of a custom 3D-printed shell Sam designed with Tinkercad. It has an LCD screen for visual output, a camera for capturing images, and a speaker for the text-to-speech function. A few buttons are included for both initiating scans and navigation.

The image recognition is handled using OpenCV, you can check out our facial recognition tutorial to get a closer look at how it works on the Pi. The user interface is seriously impressive, resembling the look and feel of the original games. When something is identified, the screen loads a small icon of the object with a text block underneath containing a funny description of that thing. In the demo video, we can see it recognize animals like dogs, cows and giraffes as well as other things like bananas and an oven.

If you want to recreate this Raspberry Pi project yourself, check out the Sam Makes YouTube channel for a video breakdown of its construction as well as links to tutorials used to make the system work. He was also kind enough to share a GitHub repository with all of the code used for anyone who wants to check it out.

Ash Hill
Ash Hill

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.