Raspberry Pi cameras replace the stereo microscope

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Handling tiny surface-mounted components and inspecting circuit boards are much easier with a nice stereo microscope, but due to the cost and bulkiness most hobbyists have to do without. At best they can have a basic digital microscope, but with a single camera they can only show a 2D image which is not ideal for detail work.

The team behind [Stereo Ninja] hopes to improve the situation by developing a stereoscopic vision system that places tiny objects on a large three-dimensional screen. Using the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, a custom carrier board that allows the use of both MIPI CSI camera interfaces and a 3D gaming monitor, their creation combines the capabilities of a traditional stereo microscope with the flexibility of a digital solution.

With two Raspberry Pi cameras suspended above the work area and the addition of lots of LED light, Stereo Ninja is able to generate the 3D image required by the monitor. While the cameras don’t have the same magnification as a microscope, they’re good enough for magnifying SMD parts, and looking at a large screen is certainly better than looking through the eyepiece of a traditional microscope. Especially if you are trying to show something to a group of people, like in a hackerspace.

Of course, not everyone has a large 3D gaming monitor on their workbench. In fact, given how badly the technology performed with consumers the last time it was forced on us, we’re betting more hackers have stereo microscopes than 3D displays. That’s why the team’s next step is to have the Raspberry Pi generate the signals required by the shutter glasses, allowing Stereo Ninja to display a three-dimensional image on 2D monitors; bring this valuable ability to a much larger audience than was previously possible.


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