BigShot DIY Digital Camera Kit


By Evan Ackerman

I wasn’t alive back in the day when someone with no specific tools or knowledge could open something up to fix it or just figure out how it worked. Nowadays, electronics come plastered with dire warnings about how opening the case will void your warranty, destroy the device, and kill you and your pets. This is really too bad, because one of the ways that people learn, or specifically that kids learn, is by experimentation. With this in mind, the Computer Vision Lab at Columbia University has developed the BigShot camera, which comes in a kit designed for kids to assemble while learning about cameras specifically and electronics in general:

The camera can be powered with a battery or with a dynamo, where 6 cranks = 1 picture, a feature I’d love to have in any or all of the cameras I use. It’s also got lenses on a rotating wheel, including a wide angle lens and a prism for taking stereo pictures. It goes beyond just a buildable camera kit, though… The overall mission of the BigShot project aims to keep the camera cheap enough that they’ll be available to kids worldwide, and to create an online social environment of sorts to share photos and teach the principles of photography.

The viability of this whole thing probably depends on what the final price of the BigShot ends up being. It’s currently still in a final testing phase, and my guess is that it’ll end up in about the same place as the OLPC… Great idea, but about twice as expensive as it ideally should be.

[ BigShot ] VIA [ Make ]

12 thoughts on “BigShot DIY Digital Camera Kit”

  1. I remember going down in the basement and tearing my fathers watch apart to glimpse the inside. I was amazed for about 3 minutes as I dug deeper into all the wheels, gears and levers. At minute #4 I decided to rebuild the watch. Only one problem, I was 7 and had never apprenticed to a watchmaker in Germany. So, I stuck it in a drawer and left it for dead. Hey, there was so much junk down there that he'd never find that watch. Which he did about 3 days later. He threw me about 12 feet across the room. I thudded against the wall and slid down like a cartoon character. His final words to me that day were as follows:

    Quit your crying or I'll give you something to cry about!

    Next time I'll tell you how I accidentally killed my Gerbil with a wrist rocket and a pendulum pool ball and then masterfully set it up to make it look as though he took his own life. Disclaimer: No, I was not cruel to animals as a kid and yes I am glad my father used corporal punishment (I did prefer spankings to throwings though).

  2. Right? I want to build one, I think it's amazing that you can crank it and take a picture. I mean no matter the age, you can always learn. Also How cool is it to take 3D images! Totally awesome!

    Also again I bring up the fact that those that can afford it, should buy one and one should be sent to underdeveloped countries and poorer communities. I really love the idea of buying and sharing, because it's a good way to budget this sort of project.

  3. Not trying to dis the objective, but it looks like a snap together kit, they should also offer one for a bit more that has a blank board and all the directions needed to solder the circuitry to the device.. If they were to do this then I would for sure be interested in getting one.

  4. I do like the OLPC idea with the sharing, and I am proud to say that I contributed to the cause and bought one for me and one for a less fortunate child in another country.

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