The Pi Focal Raspberry Pi camera case uses a similar manufacturing process to our Raspberry Pi Case, Pi Pan. It's made from 5052 sheet aluminum that is cut on a CNC punch press. The top and bottom are folded to shape, then press nut hardware is pneumatically installed. Check the link here and here to view our Pi Pan Kickstarter projects. The pictures of Pi Focal you see are of a hand made prototype. A factory made first article will be ready and pictured before the funding period ends. For more info, read the "Prototpye vs. Final Product" section a few paragraphs down.
Camera Mounting Plate
We designed a three piece case for functionality and user customization. Mount the camera module to the plastic plate using the included nylon screws and standoffs. The plate then mounts to the camera enclosure base. We also have a prototyping PCB designed which will serve as a mounting plate. This means you can modify the case to experiment with other sensors and functions while concealing your creation in the camera enclosure. Right now we think there will be two PCB mounting plate versions, one for vertical camera mounting and one for horizontal mounting. They will run in the $5-7 dollar range and should be ready in November.
Camera Orientation and Cable Routing
With Pi Focal, you can mount the camera in multiple positions and route the cable in three directions while maintaining the cameras natural "ribbon cable down" orientation. The plastic camera mounting plate has 8 holes so you can choose between standing the case vertically or horizontally.
Removable Lens Cover
Each enclosure comes with a laser cut clear acrylic cover to protect the camera lens from dust, water, fingerprints and dirt. The acrylic is specially formulated for high transparency which makes it perfect for LCD displays and cameras. It covers the entire face of the camera enclosure and is reversible if it gets scratched. Replacement lens covers will be available for around four dollars. The lens cover mounts to the enclosure with 4-40 screws. The lens cover press nuts can also be used to mount the camera case or to add other attachments like a lens hood.
Lens Cover Picture Quality
Based on our testing, early results show there is little difference in picture quality with or without the lens cover attached. View the links HERE, HERE, and HERE for some side by side video comparisons and also see the still photos below. Of course, we will continue with picture quality testing during the funding period to make sure the protective cover is a worth while addition to the enclosure.
Mounting The Camera Enclosure
The bottom of the enclosure has three PEM press nuts that accept standard 4-40 hardware for a variety of mounting options. The case is also designed to sit flush and aligned on the lid of our Pi Pan case. The camera can face either direction the ribbon cable runs. You can use a Pi Focal lid screw to fasten it to your case. Simply drill a hole in your case lid and you are ready to mount. We will also offer an L shaped metal bracket with holes for 4-40 sized hardware. Mounting the camera case to unusual Raspberry Pi cases or objects should be fairly simple with our standard L bracket and a drill.
Prototype vs. Final Product
The Pi Focal pictured is a hand made prototype with a few features missing. The prototype doesn't have the camera plate standoffs or the mounting press nuts installed. We are also going to add a third lid arm and press nut to keep the lid aligned. Nylon hardware (screws and standoffs) will be used for the lens cover and camera mounting assembly. The enclosure will also be slightly wider to allow for the third ribbon cable routing slot. You will be able to bend the cable 90 degrees and send it out the back of the enclosure. The prototype pictured is made from silver anodized 5052 aluminum but we will use regular 5052 aluminum in the final product. Factory prototypes will be ready and pictured before the funding period ends. You can get an idea of what your finish will look like from the third picture.
RTP vs. Powder Coat
The camera enclosure comes in two finish types: Ready-To-Paint (bare aluminum) or a very durable black powder coat finish. The RTP version has a pebbled aluminum appearance from the deburring tumbler. This can be left as is or sanded down for a polished or spray paint finish. Powder coat is an industrial grade finish that forms a strong bond to prevent chips and scratches. It starts as a fine powder that is positively charged as it's sprayed on to a negatively charged piece of metal. It's then cured in an oven at a temperature near 400 degrees.
Proudly Made In The USA!
Risks and challenges
As always with our Kickstarter projects, it's possible the camera enclosure could face unforeseen delays in production. We will do our best to keep you updated if delayed shipping becomes a possibility.
There is also a chance your package could become lost or damaged during shipment. We always keep extra cases and parts in hand so if you do have an issue, there's a replacement waiting.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.