Shooting on film continues to get more and more expensive, especially for fans of instant cameras such as the reborn Polaroid. Twenty-five bucks for just eight shots was far too pricey for Tim Alex Jacobs, so he hacked an old Polaroid camera to instead spit out images on cheap thermal paper, the same kind used in cash registers to print out your receipt.
After finding an old, broken Polaroid on eBay (with a bizarre, sonar-based autofocus system) Jacobs also bought an old webcam for a couple of bucks, but splurged on a £34 ($61) thermal printer that was tiny enough to squeeze inside the camera’s housing once the original guts were removed. All the details of the build – including a fascinating teardown of the Polaroid – are elaborated on Jacobs’ site, but you’ll need more than skills with a dremel and a screwdriver to build your own.
Hidden away inside the Polaroid’s housing is a Raspberry Pi controlling all of the hardware. A lot of custom coding and troubleshooting were required get the webcam and thermal printer to talk. In the end, there unfortunately wasn’t much space left in the camera to fit an entire roll of thermal paper, but you can squeeze enough in there to easily get you through a party, or a night at the pub.