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Project Suggestion: Create An Inexpensive, DIY Structured-Light 3D Scanner With One Neat Trick

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  1. As things stand, DIY structured-light 3D scanners (Wikipedia link) are REALLY expensive for the regular maker for one main reason: the need for an expensive digital projector to gain the required resolution for the projected patterns.  ...but what if you didn't need one?  The trick is that while you need many images to properly scan the environment, each one is a static image.  What if, instead of using an expensive digital projector, you printed the images on transparent plastic sheets, looped them, then used a second-hand slide projector lens?  Essentially, you would make a movie projector that would use an Arduino/etc. to trigger the camera at each frame.  (FWIW, second-hand PS3 Eye cameras are cheap, can be synced, and offer up to 640x40@75Hz or 320x240@187Hz.  For many DIY projects, that works fine.  Here is an example.  The 'popping' is because only a single camera was used.)
  2. If you wanted to up the game, many Canon cameras--which can be picked up dirt cheap on eBay/etc.--can run CHDK, which allows for both on-camera scripting and comprehensive remote control.  
  3. Because using a single camera can cause issues--as can be seen in the above video--why not run with FOUR of them--above, below, left, and right of the projector--in pairs of two, with the film loop alternating between horizontal and vertical lines?
  4. If you are only concerned with data and not colour, using IR LEDs to light the projector and IR filters on the cameras--which could even just consist of small pieces of exposed film scraps from your local photo developer--would eliminate visible light causing problems with scanning.

While still costing a couple of hundred dollars--unless you get really lucky in thrift stores--this will still cost MUCH less than a commercial 3D scanner and should still work very well for most folks.

Does that sound reasonable?

Posted : 11/08/2022 7:33 pm