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Camera Conversion (Part 5): Both Cameras Beginning to Take Form

A brief update on where both cameras stand.

Camera 1. Yi, with C-Mount Lens

I now have the titanium components I designed and had cut by SendCutSend, and the C-Mount Taylor-Hobson lens purchased off of EBay. I’m awaiting some pads being laser cut (to seal and protect camera elements), and a lens mount component that Jawstec is printing (multi-jet fusion -nylon, which may be replaced by one printed in metal, after I check fit and strength). This weekend, I’ll be sanding and polishing the titanium.

Unfortunately, I think I put a couple of dings in the Yi’s sensor while trying to reposition it, and I’m waiting for a replacement Yi (again EBay, arriving Monday).

Camera 2. RaspberryPi HQ Camera, with D-Mount Lens

This was pretty easy to get working, because it’s inherently such a simple setup. Slide the ribbon connector from the camera straight into the slot on the RaspberryPi, activate the camera in software, and you’re taking pictures.

The short (12.29mm) distance from the base (flange) on D-Mount lenses to the sensor is no problem, because there’s nothing to get in the way.

The “camera” comes with an installed CS-C-Mount, in front of the sensor, and because it’s set up specifically to be easy to change backfocus distance in the mount. all I needed to do was add a small threaded C->D adapter I keep on my keychain anyway.

The one difficulty with setting backfocus correctly comes from using my massive 4k monitor for the project, because I lack a smaller screen on-hand. The way to fine-tune backfocus is to set the lens on infinity and then fiddle with the distance of flange to focal plane until it’s looking sharp. Unfortunately, I have no “infinity” in my rowhouse, so, short of taking everything outside, I’ll need to wait until I can get a new screen in. Probably a small touch screen, attached to the Pi, so that I can have this form a freestanding camera when I’m done.

The bigger problem overall, is that the RaspberryPi HQ camera is specifically designed for hobbyists and engineers who want to use it for tweaking and all sorts of clever stuff with sensors and Internet of Things uses. To make the camera actually do anything useful on the software side, and even to integrate hardware switches, saving video to solid state devices, etc, requires programming in Python. I’m not a Python programmer, and even though I am a complete master of “copy-and-paste,” there hasn’t been enough development of the Pi HQ camera for there to be a code base from which I can lift.

Hence, I definitely have some stuff to figure out right now. I love the D-Mount lenses, and this setup does seem to work with them. But do I design a housing and work to figure out the Python controls necessary, or do I pause, and work to find hardware that will accept the D-Mount lenses, but be better suited to the creation of a camera?