You probably noticed that the video for this project was a little more...involved than what I normally do.
As I showed the camera around to people during development, I kept reiterating that it was only a novelty device meant as a gift for my sister, but people kept telling me that I should think about making it into a product. The reality is that it's not a great product and doesn't really solve any problem that people have.
Wait, a product that solves a problem that people don't have? TO KICKSTARTER!
I thought it would be fun to stretch my video production legs a bit and see if I could come up with a convincing Kickstarter-style video on a shoestring budget.
Most of the video was shot by me in my apartment while the outdoor segments were shot near the Seattle Pacific Science Center with the help of a friend.
The "time lapse" feature was meant as a joke and really doesn't perform that well. It turns out that the printer starts to overheat after printing too many consecutive photographs. This causes black blemishes to show up on the image, and eventually the printer will actually slow down in an effort to cool off. I suppose this is preferable to the paper catching fire. You can see the blemishes starting to form here:
If I ever wanted to bring this camera to market, I'd probably just write some firmware that would keep track of how fast pictures were being taken and intelligently refuse to snap another photo until enough time had passed.
Just for fun, I threw in a few Easter eggs into the video as well:
"18 Karat Wood" is obviously ridiculous, and "A Most Unusual Camera" is a reference to the 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone featuring an instant camera that took pictures of what was going to happen five minutes in the future. Surprise, people died.
On my left monitor, you might recognize the manual for the infamous Turboencabulator, a fictional piece of technology that uses "the crudely conceived idea of a transmission that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters." Technobabble at its finest.
Also a fun side note: I wasn't able to get anyone to help me operate the camera for this scene, so I actually have a piece of string tied to my foot that pulled the camera along its slide. You'll notice that it's a little shaky even after an attempt at stabilizing it.
Also, just in case anyone asks, the picture of myself and a woman that I cut up and burned were used with her permission.
The really hilarious thing is that I had completely shot this commercial before fixing the printing bug and staining the wood, so I then had to reshoot the entire thing once I made those changes. See?
I had a friend help me design the logo, the music is called "Carefree" by Kevin MacLeod which I got off a royalty free music site, and the website is based off of the free css theme that I modified a bit.
So yes, this was all a joke, but it's also a great learning opportunity. I have plans to launch a crowdfunded campaign sometime in the future, and I think I could learn a lot from how people react to this presentation. I was also surprised how easy it was to produce something that looked somewhat legitimate. If I was trying to start a crowdfunding campaign, I think I might actually have a chance with this kind of effort. As such, I signed up for an account with MailChimp, so if you click the link at the bottom of the page, it'll actually let you sign up.
Who knows, if I drum up enough interest, maybe I'll make PrintSnap a real thing!
Jeez, what an exhausting project. I learned so much working on this thing:
- CNC tricks
- ARM processors
- Gamma correction
- More inrush limiters
and it's probably one of the most polished things I've made for this blog. I really had a lot of time to drill down and make incremental improvements. Many of my projects end up as gifts, but I think this is one where I fully plan to make another one for myself. It's a practical and useful product that you can't buy in a store.
At the moment, the firmware is a complete train wreck and needs a lot of work. I think I need to change my software development process altogether. I'm so often fixated on figuring out if my ideas will even work that I make horribly ugly code to bring me to a proof of concept as soon as possible. The same thing happened with the QR clock. If I organized my thoughts a little better then I'd have more serviceable code that can be easily ported to other processors if the one I chose isn't fast enough.
And for all of you looking to get one, I am serious about maybe trying to bring it to market. It probably won't be as cheap as you're hoping (the prototype costs about $200 in parts alone), but maybe with enough work, I could make it practical.
If you don't want to wait that long, you can download all the project files below. 🙂
Download the files for this project here: PrintSnap v1.0
Table of Contents
- Component Selection
- Electrical Design
- Mechanical Design
- Everything I Know is Wrong
- Marketing and Conclusion