Gado 2 – The Arduino-Based Scanning Robot That Autonomously Digitizes Sensitive Archival Materials

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Project Gado releases a kit for the Gado 2, an open source Arduino-based scanning robot that museums and archives can use to autonomously digitize their photographic collections, and individuals can use to preserve their family photographs.

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Project Gado releases a kit for the Gado 2, an open source Arduino-based scanning robot

Gado is an open source machine; makers and developers are encouraged to test it on whatever they want and modify the device and software to fit their needs.

On August 31, 2012, Project Gado released a kit for the Gado 2, an open source Arduino-based scanning robot that museums and archives can use to autonomously digitize their photographic collections, and individuals can use to preserve their family photographs.

Sensitive archival materials like photographs often cannot be placed in a standard document feeder, which bends materials and causes damage. Robotic scanners currently on the market can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Gado 2, in contrast, enables small archives to cheaply digitize their photographic collections, while preserving the integrity of their materials.

The Gado 2 gently lifts items using suction, places them on a standard flatbed scanner, scans them into a computer, and sets them aside for re-filling. The Gado 2 can scan and save a photograph every 42 seconds, and can scan hundreds of photographs in a row, thereby allowing archivists to focus on more important tasks than manual digitization.

The Gado 2 has been tested on flat photographs in the archives of the Afro-American Newspapers. John Gartrell, Archivist at the Afro-American Newspapers, used to be the paper’s primary scanner. Before Gado, he had to scan over 5,000 images by hand; now, Gartrell says, “Gado has taken out so many steps.”

Gado technology is valuable for newspapers, museums, state and municipal archives, historical societies, publishers and other institutions who want to digitize their photo collections. Gado digitizes both the front and back of each photo, capturing metadata written on the back such as names of people and places in the photo. Individuals are also encouraged to use the Gado 2 to scan and digitize their family photographs.

As for individuals using the Gado 2, Brendan Ebers, hardware developer for Project Gado says, “Gado is an open source machine; makers and developers are encouraged to test it on whatever they want and modify the device and software to fit their needs.”

Gado 2 Kits include everything one needs to build a Gado 2 archival scanning robot, including plastic 3D-printed components, all required electronic parts, an IPEVO document camera for capturing medium-res images of the backs of materials, and detailed build instructions. Just add your own Windows computer and WIA-compatible scanner.

Gado 2 kits are now available for pre-order at ProjectGado.org, and will begin shipping early September 2012. Thanks to generous support from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, Gado is offering the first ten kits at introductory pricing. Please visit ProjectGado.org to reserve your kit or email info(at)projectgado.org for more information.

About Project Gado
Project Gado has created an autonomous open source archival scanning robot which small archives can use to digitize their photographic collections. This project grew out of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Africana Studies, and now includes the JHU Sheridan Libraries and the Afro-American Newspapers. For more information about Project Gado, please contact Amy Smith at amy(at)esdallc.com or visit http://www.projectgado.org.

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Amy Smith

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