Behold! The FrankenPiCam!
A few weeks before I saw a twitter post about someone taking a dremmel to a Model A+, I had the idea of cutting off the corner of a Model A, where the ethernet socket was missing anyway. I was inspired to make the flattest possible PiCam “mount” by Ben Heck’s video but only thought of the idea after seeing x-ray pictures of the revision 1 Model B. As the x-ray shot was not clear, I also looked at the gerbers. The evidence suggested no vital lines ran through the area so the next natural step was to test the theory.
First, I measured up the PiCam to see whether it would fit in the space available in the corner. At this point I considered if I wanted to cut into the USB mount holes.
Next, the flat ribbon connectors were depopulated off both the Model A and the PiCam board. As you can see I was a bit heavy handed and damaged the PiCam’s connector pads but the testpoints remained intact.
A quick test with RiscOS Pico showed my abysmal desoldering skills had not adversely affected the Model A so I proceeded to apply said dremmel to create space for the PiCam. The PiCam board itself was narrowed down to fit in without interfering with the remaining USB connector – visual inspection suggested I wouldn’t cut any vital signal lines. After some evening out to get the cuts to match, I applied a dab of super glue to hold the transplanted PiCam while I connected the boards with recycled resistor offcuts of around 10mm in length.
A final boot in Raspbian and hey presto – a flatcam. Note the orange wire running to the USB socket? It looks like the 5V supply line runs through the corner I sliced apart. In fact it is now a 3V3 line as hinted by the two wires soldered in place of the 3V3 regulator – an exercise in power efficiency, as I would like this FrankenPiCam to be battery driven through an LM2956. I also bought some iPhone lenses off ebay to add some flexibility to the FOV. I was also going to add an Adafruit PiTFT for preview, but I realised that a CVBS screen will be faster because I can avoid using fbcp. But more on that another time.