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Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Scan-To-Cloud Device

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Today, I created an interesting DIY solution for uploading documents to a cloud service without spending much time or money doing so!

I did some research and stumpled upon the great the solution from Eduardo Luís: Eduardos solution scans tiff files to email – emulating a basic function of modern desktop scanners in a device with only a single button.

After planing a bit I realized that a single button was a little to restricted for my case: I wanted a little more comfort – A button to cancel the scan process and to add more pages to a document made more sense for me. What was still missing was a bit of feedback, so I decided to use a display. After minutes of research I found out, that Adafruit’s Addon Shield Display with its two-line LCD Display and five small input buttons was a perfect match.

The scanning process is carried out by the Software “SANE” ( Then “tiff2pdf” converts the raw image into a PDF. Initially I planed for the OCR process to be handled by the well known open source OCR engine “tesseract”- The problem: The Raspberry took too much time doing the OCR part (at least 1-2 minutes per page). For this reason I started looking for an OCR alternative. Finally I found the Abbyy Cloud OCR SDK ( A great SaaS solution to convert existing PDFs into searchable ones (

An important requirement I had, was to make the device usable for multiple users. The best way to achieve this without additional hardware parts, was to use QR-Codes. The QR-Code should be scanned in order to identify the user to whose doctape account the pdf’s shall be sent to.

Doctape ( provides a free email inbox for its users: Any attachments that are send to the personal email address are not only saved into your doctape account, but also indexed for full-text search! So all I had to do is to recognize the username within the provided QR Code. Doing so any doctape user just needs to create a QR Code containing the doctape username and the cloud connection is established :-)

This is wonderful. And insane. And wonderful!

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