Final Project

Building a 16x16 Pixel DSLR Camera From Scratch


As a photography (or, shall I say, imaging) enthusiast, I am fascinated by the optics and electronics in modern-day cameras. After watching the YouTube recordings of Harvard's DGMD E-10: Exposing Digital Photography by Dan Armendariz course this winter, I got into the idea of building one from scratch. Another point of inspiration was Sean Hodgins fantastic 32x32 image sensor (find his detailed protocol on Instructables here). His monochrome 32x32 image sensor really layed the groundwork for my attempt, and I would love to build onto it and replicate some more of the features we find in modern-day DSLR cameras. Specifically, I hope to build a DSLR with RGB capabilities, analog ISO, a faster processor, as well as motorized functional components like a mirror, shutter, and aperture. Maybe even capabilities for flash photography. Let's see how far we can get!

Initial Specifications

My camera shall replicate all essential functions of a modern-day DSLR camera (with a mirror). The following is a list of the features I consider bare minimum for this project to be successful, and some nice to haves at the bottom of the list:


Imaging Sensor



Milestones and Outline

The following is a list of milestones to structure my work on this project:

T -6 Weeks

T -5 Weeks

T -4 Weeks

T -3 Weeks

T -2 Weeks

T -1 Week


Milestone 1

Mini-DSLR Motherboard

Milestone 2

Mini-DSLR 3x3 Image Sensor

Milestone 3

Mini-DSLR LCD Screen & Menu

Milestone 4

Full-Size 16x16 DSLR Image Sensor Design

Milestone 5

Full-Size 16x16 Image Sensor Production

Milestone 6

Full-Size DSLR Motherboard

Milestone 7

3D-Printed Frame & Cardboard Body

Milestone 8

Coding & Taking a First Image