Project Gado

Archive your photos and documents without spending all day at the scanner.

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If you've ever had the pleasure of trying to convert loads of physical documents or photos into digital form, it can be kind of a pain. It's not that moving a document into a scanner and pressing scan is difficult, but if you have a few hundred (or even thousand) pictures or documents in queue, it can be quite the time consuming task. This build, called Project Gado, from SparkFun customer Tom Smith is an open-source automatic archiving robot for individuals or small museums. Check it out!

The way it works is pretty straight-forward. The brains of Project Gado consist of an Arduino and a ProtoShield connected via USB to a PC running python. The Arduino controls a robotic arm with a suction cup that grabs a photo/document and lifts it to the awaiting scanner.

The scanner then closes and processes the image. The suction cup returns, takes the photo to the output bin where a camera takes a shot of the backside (in case any important information is there). You might wonder why they don't use an automatic document feeder, but many of these photos and documents are very old and could get ripped up going through your standard printer. This is an awesome and very useful project! Great work, Tom!

Comments 18 comments

  • Tom Smith / about 13 years ago / 3

    Thanks for the writeup! Just to share with you guys, here is a little preview of the Gado 2, the next generation of the machine (currently up for funding over at Kickstarter).

  • TimZaman / about 13 years ago / 1

    Hahaha this is great, but i'm confused, this is not serious, right? Ever heared of standard batch scanners (kodak) that do the exact same thing for the same price at 2 pages per second? ...

  • Member #167681 / about 13 years ago / 1

    They should have a contest on who can design the cheapest and fastest robot to do this; that should help in the 1.5 million image scanning goal.

  • John Galt / about 13 years ago / 1

    I am pretty sure that Robert Heinlein came up with this in 1966...
    "Used to be he could read only microfilm, but late 74 he got a new scanning camera with suction-cup waldoes to handle paper and then he read everything."

  • Arduinology / about 13 years ago / 1

    Pretty cool contraption, love that anything can be done with Arduino.

    • L1011 / about 13 years ago / 1

      Arduino = training wheels for the Atmel AVR. Reality, anything can be done with an AVR.

      • Member #42616 / about 13 years ago / 1

        I would go a step further and say that the AVR is a low end micro controller and it is a entry point to the world of embedded systems. While I agree that the AVR series is great the ATmega328 is pretty limited with only 32K prog/2K ram and limited peripherals @ 8/16MHz. This is 2011 there are dozens of ARM Cortex-M3 processors with 3+ UARTs, SPI, I2C, Ethernet, USB, SDIO, external busses etc.. and runs @100MHz for about the same price or a little more and about the same price for a finished board. Why is everyone tring to cram thier latest creation into an old 8bit processor when it could easily be done on a 32bit processor.
        The AVR is fine for simple tasks but for complex systems like this why not use a modern processor?

        • Mister Tea / about 13 years ago / 1

          Its all about scale. The Arduino is very handy for small projects because one can use an AVR IC by itself on a bread board or PCB without complex traces or soldering necessary. The AVR's can be had for under three bucks a piece and the low cost arduino boards are in the $20 range. For small stuff the Arduino is a perfect tool.
          Stepping up to ARM MCU's is a logical step for bigger projects where larger programs, memory and processing speeds are necessary. An ARM Cortex M3 powered Mbed does the job nicely.
          If you want to get even more advanced an FPGA can handle allot of advanced tasks when paired with an ARM MCU. has a few nice ARM/FPGA boards.
          Turning on a few lights/motors, basic internet control or running a stepper is childs play. That easy stuff is perfect for an Arduino. Making a multi axis CNC with servo motors and encoders or a video game console? ARM.

  • No-one / about 13 years ago / 1

    Another arduino project

  • R0B0T1CS / about 13 years ago / 1

    Will SparkFun be at the Detroit Make Fair in July?
    Say 'Yes' :)

    • Erik-Sparkfun / about 13 years ago / 1

      Not with an official booth, but Chris and Todd from IT will be wandering around, wearing SparkFun shirts.

      • Myself / about 13 years ago / 1

        Oh goody, we're gonna drag you back to i3detroit for the afterparty, then. ;) Official announcement forthcoming, but there will be beer and solder, you can count on that much.

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