[Hack] Connect and Control Polaroid to Arduino

For the project “Polaroids From Space” i connected a 30 year old Polaroid Supercolor 635 to an arduino like microcontroller. For that, I had to find out if this was possible, and how it was possible.

Yes, it is possible.
Yes, connecting is easy, though not intuitive. And because the connections are not intuitive and dangerous, I have written down the keypoints here. All the wiring in this old camera is open, that means that when the flash trigger is loaded, there are a few hundreds volts charged up on open wires so this can be fucking fatal. I would say “do not try this at home”, and i just did.

The below images should exactly describe how to hook up a Polaroid camera to an Arduino. The connections are fairly straightforward.


Important connections annotated

Final soldered wires. Connect these two and it starts the capture routine.

Hook it up to your microcontroller

To hook up a Polaroid to your microcontroller or arduino, you can generally go three ways:
1) Transistor; a bit difficult – this is what i used but I had trouble selecting t he right resistors (>2k ohm didnt work for me)
2) Relay; super easy but draws a lot of current.
3) Opto-coupler; super easy but polarity is important (the way you hook up + and -)

This is the general opto-coupler setup (buy this from sparkfun or something):


Schematic when you use an opto-coupler


Result used in project

Tim Zaman

MSc Biorobotics. Specialization in computer vision and deep learning. Works at NVIDIA.

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