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Picture of Card Scanner for a Trading Card Machine

Card Scanner for a Trading Card Machine

The Change Log can be found in the last step.

The Background

I explained the main motivation of my project in the Card Feeder Intro. But in short, my children and I have amassed a large amount of Trading Cards by now. The handling, sorting, etc. is very difficult with these quantities. We have already tried it, but we gave up frustrated. For this reason, I want to build a Trading Card Machine, which should take on different tasks.

Trading Cards should automatically be

  • managed (Which cards do I have?, Which ones are missing?)
  • sorted (Block, Language, Set, Series, etc)
  • rated (How valuable are my cards?, How much money do I have to spend for a full set?)
  • traded (Buy and Sell)

Because of these ambitious goals, I decided to split the huge machine into 3 parts:

This Instructable is about the 2nd part, the Card Scanner, which is the brain of the whole Trading Card Machine.
The Card Scanner:

  • control the Card Feeder by turning it on or off
  • capture, analyze and evaluate the Trading Cards
  • move the Card Sorter to the right position

BUT, this is the functionality of the final Trading Card Machine.
This Instructable is reduced to the "internal" Card Scanner functions (capture, analyze and evaluate the Trading Cards)

In technical terms:

  • I use a Raspberry PI and the PI Cam to capture the Trading Cards
  • with the help of Google Cloud Platform API's (Vision and Translation) I analyze the Cards
  • I evaluate the Cards with the Cardmarket API

So a lot of coding in this project, but there is still something to build.
The Card Scanner enclosure. Of course, I use 3mm Cardboard for this task.

Let's go!

In this Instructable I want to show you - How to create the Card Scanner.

Step 1: Tools, Materials and Software That I Used

Picture of Tools, Materials and Software That I Used

Tools, Materials and Software that I used


  • Cutting mat
  • Rulers
  • Cutter
  • Solvent-containing adhesives (UHU HART and tesa)
  • Pencil, marker
  • Center punch
  • Hand drill
  • Hot glue gun + glue sticks (not in the picture)



cliffyd1 month ago
Absolutely awesome idea and instructable! Good job. ya got my vote!
theguymasamato (author)  cliffyd1 month ago
Cool. Thank you very much!
Ghostanswer1 month ago
Thank you
LouwN1 month ago
You are a machine! Excellent use of cardboard. And why not, cards are made from a similar material. I would love to see all three components working together, as well as a measurement of speed for the process to complete a single and a bunch of cards. Either the image recognition or the API calls are slowing down the process considerably. I'm wondering if other services are available to increase speed with these processes. I didn't see in any of the videos, but does the sorter have a cell for "invalid" or unrecognized cards?
Amazing Instructable. So much time and effort, thank you for sharing!
theguymasamato (author)  LouwN1 month ago
Thank you very much!
Speed .... that's a bit tricky. At the moment it is slow. I will optimize the code and the API calls, but I would say it will never be a very fast system. But I will do my best.

Yes, there is a hint in the Card Sorter Intro. The WoW TCG universe has 21 expansions. I created 22 boxes. One additional for cards that were not recognized by the Card Scanner or that could not be assigned to the Card Sorter.
If there was a way to separate the API from the online services and bring it to the local machine it could increase speed, however in this case that probably won't ever happen. I guess you can leave the machine on overnight and let it sort to maximum capacity, but for a large collection you would probably need to increase the storage size for each compartment as well as the loader's capacity. I'm very much in love with your project.