A Camera Made of 23,248 Coffee Stirrers, Powered by A Raspberry Pi, and Controlled with A Nintendo Controller
Here’s one of the more unique cameras you’ll ever see: designer Adrian Hanft took 28,248 coffee stirrer straws and turned them into a one-of-a-kind camera — the images show up as 28,248 points of light.
After verifying that 250 straws can project an image onto ground glass, Hanft ordered tens of thousands of black disposable coffee stirrers on Amazon and began building prototypes of the camera he had in mind.
Light passes through the tens of thousands of stirrer straws and creates an image on “ground glass” — Hanft tried things like a laptop screen and sanded plexiglass before settling on wax paper — and a digital camera mounted on the back end captures the image seen on the “ground glass.”
“When I tell people that I made a camera out of coffee stirrers I get an odd reaction. They want to know why. Where the idea came from? The idea is strange, even for me, and I’m the guy who invented the Lego camera,” he writes.
“How does it work? Imagine if you created an array of straws all pointed in the same direction. Each straw will “see” a different point of light. In theory, if you put a piece of light sensitive photo paper behind the straws you would be able to record the light from each straw.”
“That’s how it works in theory. In practice it took quite a bit of experimentation to arrive at the final version of the camera. This essay is the story of that journey. You might have noticed that I still haven’t answered the question of why. The truth is, I don’t know. All I can say is that scratching this odd itch has been very satisfying and the results please me. Some people will read this story and just not get it. That’s fine. But my hope is that others will be inspired by my exploration and be energized to pursue their unique obsession. If that’s you then I don’t need to explain why we make things. The journey is the destination.”