As part of a course at the United States Military Academy at West Point, maker Roy D. Ragsdale developed a prototype Street View-like camera using a laptop, $300 in off-the-shelf components, and open source software. A Python script captures eight 1280x1024px JPEG files that are then stitched together and uploaded to Google Earth.
Construction was straightforward. On a flat octagonal heavy-cardboard base, I glued small posts for the cameras’ clips to latch onto. I aligned each unit and then placed the USB hubs and the GPS receiver in the middle. I secured the cables with Velcro and sandwiched everything with another piece of cardboard. The whole thing’s the size of a small pizza box, weighing less than 1 kilogram. Excluding the notebook (a 2-gigahertz machine with 512 megabytes of RAM running Ubuntu Linux), the hardware cost about $300.