Read 80-column IBM Punch Cards with Arduino

After discovering some IBM 80-column punch cards, the people at ‘codeincluded’ have created an amazing system that can read the cards using a wide variety of hardware. First the cards are stacked into a device made from LEGO Technics that holds, aligns and then drops cards one at a time when the user rotates an arm. Then each card is photgraphed using a Canon digital camera hacked with CHDK firmware. The image is then sent to a PC running a python script which can detect the changes in colours and therefore which holes are punched – which then returns the values of the cards. The whole hardware side is controlled via an Arduino board. Watch the following to see it work:


Truly something different, and a great way to articulate to the younger folk “how it was done in the old days”. For more informaiton, including the hardware and software details check out the project blog hereAnd we’re on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 


If you are new to Arduino, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A good start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:


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