Making Fun Things

Pipe robot with a vintage camera head sitting on a wooden box

Photo Roboto

Thermal paper photo bot booth


I built a photo-taking-robot for my wedding, because every wedding needs a robot photographer. This one was done around an old twin lens reflex camera with a Raspberry Pi strapped to the back, a lens removed and a pi camera module placed inside. Push the button, and a shell script flashes a built-in light, takes a photo, and prints it out on thermal paper. It’s based on the Raspberry Pi Instant Camera by Phillip Burgess. The camera packs up inside the base for easy transport. And unlike printer ink, one roll of paper lasts longer than I’ve ever needed*.

* After a long weekend at Open Sauce ’23, I have now gone through several rolls of paper. 

For Makerfaire Mare Island 2023, the bot was upgraded with a faster printer with auto cut ability. The mini printer was fine for parties, but for a busy convention the upgrade was required for sanity. Now it’s using an Epson TM-T20ii printer from eBay and the epsonsimplecups driver.

Pi camera seen through graphex aperature
Pi camera is taped inside the Grafex camera. The shutter is held open in bulb mode – no destructive modifications were used.
Raspberry Pi mounted to vintage camera head
Raspberry-Pi is magnet-mounted to the twin lens reflex back