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The ProtoCam is a prototyping board for the Raspberry Pi, that lets you build projects around your Raspberry Pi Camera Module.
The ProtoCam is a prototyping board for the Raspberry Pi, that lets you build projects around your Raspberry Pi Camera Module.
165 backers pledged £2,338 to help bring this project to life.

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ProtoCam - The Raspberry Pi Camera Module Prototyping Board

£2,338

165

The ProtoCam is now available from http://ProtoBoards.co.uk

*** UPDATE ***

The ProtoCam works with the Raspberry Pi Model B+!

Alex Eames from RasPi.TV has tried the ProtoCam on a Model B+ board using the first 26 pins (identical to a Model B) and has found that it fits (although slightly off centre compared to the Model A/B that it is designed for). Here's a video from Alex explaining:

What is the ProtoCam?

The ProtoCam is a prototyping board for the Raspberry Pi Model A and B, that offers a whole new way to prototype with your Raspberry Pi. It's designed to hold your Raspberry Pi Camera Module - surrounded by prototyping area - allowing you to build fun and interesting new projects.

Features / Design

The ProtoCam is unique -  It's a prototyping board for the Raspberry Pi that mounts your Raspberry Pi Camera Module around a large area of prototyping space. 

You can build around your camera module, and what you build is entirely up to you!

The camera module is surrounded by prototyping space
The camera module is surrounded by prototyping space

The ProtoCam is designed to help you be creative. The large area of prototyping lanes makes it easy to fit LEDs, Infra red, segment displays, sensors, buzzers and much much more - all around your Camera Module!

Examples

Here are a few examples/ideas to get you started:

Add a flash with as many LEDs as you can fit
Add a flash with as many LEDs as you can fit
Add seven-segment displays as a countdown timer for your shots!
Add seven-segment displays as a countdown timer for your shots!
How about an LED matrix...
How about an LED matrix...
...or even a mini LCD display!
...or even a mini LCD display!
Why not use your universal tripod with the ProtoCam?
Why not use your universal tripod with the ProtoCam?
Fit one to a robot chassis for a robot camera!
Fit one to a robot chassis for a robot camera!

Fitting

The ProtoCam pushes on to your Raspberry Pi via the 26-pin GPIO, and fits both the Model A and B boards thanks to the supplied extra-tall stacking GPIO header.

Model A Raspberry Pi
Model A Raspberry Pi
Model B Raspberry Pi
Model B Raspberry Pi

The ProtoCam Fits Generic Cases

Whilst not an intended design feature, I tried the ProtoCam in my generic acrylic Raspberry Pi case and it fits perfectly, simply by removing the top panel:

The ProtoCam fits generic cases really well
The ProtoCam fits generic cases really well
The board is almost level with the top of the case
The board is almost level with the top of the case

Camera Module & Belt

Although I originally intended for the ProtoCam to make use of the standard Camera Module belt, I wasn't happy at how this slightly raised the board at an angle. 

The final ProtoCam will come with a shorter and firmer camera belt included, which is more suitable for gentle folding under the PCB.

(Note: The footage in the video uses the standard camera belt, which you can see only just about fits, hence why I've updated the design, reflected in these images)

The Camera Module fits to the board using the supplied small nylon screws
The Camera Module fits to the board using the supplied small nylon screws
The belt folds gently underneath the board
The belt folds gently underneath the board
The belt and ProtoCam stay securely in place
The belt and ProtoCam stay securely in place

GPIO Breakout

The ProtoCam breaks out the GPIO pins to an identical labelled connection section, making it easy to interface your design with the Raspberry Pi:

The GPIO breakout makes it easy to interface your design to the Pi
The GPIO breakout makes it easy to interface your design to the Pi

Lane Terminal Section

I've included a section of 4 longer prototyping lanes that are great for creating more power connections:

4 longer lanes of pads for power connections
4 longer lanes of pads for power connections

 PCB Support

A nylon screw is provided for use in one of the three support holes. Place this wherever your project needs the most support:

A nylon fixing is provided to use in one of the three support holes
A nylon fixing is provided to use in one of the three support holes

Colour

The board is a stealthy, classy and modern black PCB shade, complimenting the black camera module unit.

PCB Plating

PCB plating is high-quality immersion nickel gold - ensuring excellent quality connections and looks great alongside the black PCB.

Assembly

The ProtoCam is easy to assemble - just solder the GPIO header and fit the nylon screws. What you add to the board after that is up to you...

Made in the UK

The ProtoCam's PCB is manufactured in the UK! The PCB is made by a high quality and highly rated UK manufacturer with a lot of experience with Kickstarter projects. The ProtoCam proudly brings manufacturing back to the UK.

Project Background

I've always enjoyed making prototypes for my Raspberry Pi, but always found that integrating the Camera Module with electronic components is difficult or messy to achieve. Even with a case that holds your Camera Module, adding anything else can be tricky, especially if you want to keep things neat and tidy.

I wanted to use electronic components to make interesting new prototypes that included the camera module. I didn't want to buy an off the shelf solution as the options are limited and creativity takes a back seat -  I wanted to make my own designs. This was why I came up with the ProtoCam concept.

The ProtoCam gives YOU the freedom to add whatever you want around your camera module. There's space for LEDs, Infrared diodes, segment displays, buzzers, sensors, temperature monitors, LCD modules...and anything else that you can find! The possibilities are truly endless.

Example Prototype

I've already had some fun with the early prototypes, and came up with this camera countdown and flash design:

Our camera countdown and flash prototype!
Our camera countdown and flash prototype!
Press the button and the countdown begins...
Press the button and the countdown begins...
And then the flash with 9 ultra-bright LEDs!
And then the flash with 9 ultra-bright LEDs!

Why is the ProtoCam not pre-assembled?

There are a few reasons the ProtoCam comes as a kit:

  • Assembling electronics kits is a great way to practice soldering, and all part of the electronics learning experience - and learning is a big part of the Raspberry Pi 'scene'.
  • There's one less part in the process to delay you getting your ProtoCam on time.
  • You're likely to be soldering parts to the prototyping space, so this makes sense as...
  • ...selling as a kit keeps the price down for my backers.

Why only for the Model A/B Raspberry Pi?

This board is designed to fit the original Model A and Model B boards only. It is not designed to fit the new Model B+ board as the GPIO size and position has changed, however Alex Eames from RasPi.TV has discovered that it does fit and work on the B+ board, but just sits slightly off centre.

There are a few reasons we've only designed for the Model A/B:

  • Manufacturing two different types of board would deteriorate the economies of scale with the PCB manufacturer, increasing the price of the board.
  • There are currently more Model A/B boards in circulation than the new B+. Simple logic, but logic that I hope gives this project more chances of meeting its goal.
  • A Model B+ board will be produced if this project is a success.

Here's the video from Alex Eames/RasPi.TV showing the ProtoCam fitted to a B+ Raspberry Pi:

(It may be possible to connect the board to the Model B+ as the GPIO on the B+ has an identical 26-pin section, but we are not guaranteeing this, and therefore not advertising it as compatible - just to cover ourselves for anyone disappointed at how it fits a B+, in case they didn't read the full explanation).

Rewards and Delivery

I want to keep this project simple, as 'simple' means less potential complications for the project, faster delivery for you, and more time for me to make sure you get a great product.

It also means I'll have more time to send regular updates to my backers, something I believe makes a great project.

With this in mind, I have kept rewards to 4 simple and clear levels, including an 'Early Bird':

  • Project Updates: Support the project, stay in touch and receive updates on how the project is going. (£1)
  • Early Bird: Get the ProtoCam board for the reduced price of just £8! Includes the ProtoCam PCB, a GPIO extra tall stacking header, shorter camera belt and nylon fixings. Fits the Raspberry Pi Model A and Model B only (Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Camera Module NOT included!)
  • ProtoCam: Get a ProtoCam kit and let your creativity run wild! Includes the ProtoCam PCB, a GPIO extra tall stacking header, shorter camera belt and nylon fixings. Fits the Raspberry Pi Model A and Model B only (Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Camera Module NOT included!)  (£9)
  • ProtoCam x2: Get 2 ProtoCam kits to double your creative potential! Includes 2x ProtoCam PCBs, 2x GPIO extra tall headers, 2x shorter camera belts and the nylon fixings for 2 boards. Fits the Raspberry Pi Model A and Model B only (Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Camera Module NOT included!) (£18)

Who Am I?

My name is Richard Saville, also known as the "Average Man" from my Raspberry Pi blog. I live in Essex, UK, with my wife Claire and 3 month old little girl, Evie.

I've always been interested in technology, gadgets and computers, and a couple of years ago I was introduced to the Raspberry Pi by a colleague and went on to teach myself how to use it from the very first print of "hello world".

After becoming a bit of a 'Pi fanatic', I decided to start a blog to share my experiences and help others, as I found tutorials always had something missing, or assumed a certain level of knowledge that the average person wouldn't have - hence the name "Average Man" from my blog 'Average Man Vs Raspberry Pi'.

If you would like to see my blog and previous Pi projects, you can find it at AverageManVsRaspberryPi.com.

Day to day, I work as a Business Analyst within the Financial Services industry, so I aim to make use of my skills to help make this project a success. 

Thanks For Your Support!

Thank you for looking at my project and helping to make the ProtoCam a success. If you've pledged, well, I really can't thank you enough for having confidence in both me and the product. I'll do everything I can to keep you up to date, keep the project on schedule and deliver you a fantastic prototyping board.

Whether you've made a pledge or not, why not help spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social networks you use? 

You can follow me on Twitter where I'm most active: www.Twitter.com/AverageManVsPi . I'm also on Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.

A Final Thank You...

A lot of family, friends and colleagues helped me get this project where it is today. A massive thanks to:

Steve Read - The man who started it all! Thank you for introducing me to the Raspberry Pi.

Sam Phillips - For the inspiration to 'go and do something', and all the help with the video.

Chris Stock - For all your support over the last year.

My Wife, Claire - For believing in me and the project, I wouldn't have got this far without your support.

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Music used in the video is "Son of a Rocket" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

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Risks and challenges

This project has very limited risk.

Rewards have been kept simple to reduce complications, involving less parts, suppliers and manufacturers.

I have had two batches of PCB prototypes made from two separate manufacturers, results of which have both been successful. The PCB will be made in the UK, from a highly rated and recommended manufacturer.

Outside of the PCB, the parts required to complete the board are 'off the shelf' items usually available in high quantities - no custom manufacturing required. Stock availability and international shipping are the only factors to consider here, however this is common in any project and multiple suppliers are available.

Postage to my backers has already been tested and the price has been included in the project's finances, alongside all other elements of the project. The use of bubble mailers and grip seal bags has been factored in to the price, meaning your ProtoCam is protected whilst in transit.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About US$ 1.25

    Project Updates: Support the project, stay in touch and receive updates on how the project is going. Thank you!

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    3 backers
    £
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  2. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £8 or more About US$ 10

    Early Bird! Get the ProtoCam board for the reduced price of just £8! Includes the ProtoCam PCB, a GPIO extra tall stacking header, a shorter Camera Module belt cable and nylon fixings.

    (Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Camera Module NOT included!)

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 25 backers
    £
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £9 or more About US$ 11

    ProtoCam: Get a ProtoCam kit and let your creativity run wild! Includes the ProtoCam PCB, a GPIO extra tall stacking header, a shorter Camera Module belt cable and nylon fixings.

    (Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Camera Module NOT included!)

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    84 backers
    £
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £18 or more About US$ 23

    ProtoCam x2: Get 2 ProtoCam kits to double your creative potential! Includes 2x ProtoCam PCB, 2x GPIO extra tall stacking header, 2x shorter Camera Module belt cable and 2x nylon fixings.

    (Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi Camera Module NOT included!)

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    52 backers
    £
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    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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Funding period

- (30 days)