Barbara: The Talking Ai Camera

About the project

A retro camera captioning every picture.

Items used in this project

Hardware components

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Raspberry Pi 3 Model B x 1
Cell-phone TRRS Headset - Earbud Headphones w/ Microphone Cell-phone TRRS Headset - Earbud Headphones w/ Microphone x 1
Powerbank Powerbank x 1

Software apps and online services

Tape, Electrical Tape, Electrical
DeepAI DeepAI
OpenCV OpenCV
Raspberry Pi Raspbian Raspberry Pi Raspbian

Hand tools and fabrication machines

scissors scissors x 1



Below a quick overview of the content.

  • Introduction and showcase video
  • Camera
  • Electronics
  • Code
  • Result

Project Video

Introduction & Showcase Video

AI being the latest buzzword, this project is all about the slightly useless. After finding a neat API that captions images and an old camera, the goals is set: A camera that captions what it sees!


This camera is an AGFA Synchro Box from the 50's. Any camera/device will do, as long as a Raspberry Pi, Powerbank and Pi Camera fit inside.

AGFA Synchro Box


The electronics are pretty straightforward, to start off setup your Pi and connect the Pi Camera. To power everything you connect the powerbank, the same way you would with your phone.

When everything is wired up, we start on the fiddly part, placing the camera. In this case I kept the shutter open and made sure it was aligned. I takes some time, but hang in there!

Placing and aligning the camera

All that remains is to plug in in our headphones and make sure the Pi plays our audio via the 3.5mm jack.

Plugin in the headphones


The code is a slightly tricky bit, but to make things easy, here is a high level overview:

  • Take a picture every second
  • Check if the picture is mostly black (shutter is closed), if so, delete the picture
  • If not, send the picture to the AI API, receiving the caption back.
  • This caption is turned into a MP3 file, playing it via the headphones.

For anyone curious, the full code is attached to this article.


Now we have a camera that doesn't take pictures, it only captions them!Some examples for your enjoyment.

A close up of a person holding a cell phone

A close up of a large window with a bird on it

A view of a UNK of a clock tower




Photo of 8BitsAndAByte


We’re Dane & Nicole, two makers that create tremendously terrible tech, which we happily share with you on our channel!


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