Remote monitoring with a Raspberry Pi camera

RPi Camera and Light Source

Raspberry Pi, NOIR camera and home-hacked Infra-red light source.

I’ve used USB cameras with the Raspberry Pi in the past for capturing events – either in response to movement or as a timelapse. I also recently acquired a PI-NOIR camera which works really well with an infrared light source as a baby cam. I’ve installed tinyCAM on my Android phone so that I can use the camera as a baby monitor, but recently I came across “Raspicam” for Android. Looks interesting as it allows control of more functions.

Should be worth a try. I bought an infrared light source from that well-known auction site and it provides a powerful beam of invisible illumination which lights the whole room, especially if it’s bounced off the ceiling. It’s powered by a 12v wall-wart. I’ve encased it in a modified camping light case so that the PCB is a bit more robust. Plenty of hot glue holds the thing together nicely.

The Raspicam App is available on the Google Play store and is demonstrated on Mike Redrobe’s Youtube video.


Growing cress

cress3I’ve always been fascinated by the speed of growing cress. It also seems to suit my kind of growing – sow it, wait a bit, eat it! I’ve sown some cress seeds in an old margarine pot, with cotton wool and a paper towel as a growing substrate. Motion is being used here in timelapse mode – I’d originally set it to every 2 minutes, but the shots in the animated gif are from the hourly shots (compiled into a gif using gimp). The sun has been quite harsh and this is exacerbated by the webcam, but overall it’s rather fun and so easy to do.

Oddly enough, only one side of the container seemed to grow at anything like the usual rate. Maybe it was too cold or perhaps too waterlogged on one side.

Once the frames had been gathered, they were compiled into a video clip using the following mencoder command:

mencoder mf://*.jpg -mf w=800:h=600:fps=25:type=jpg -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:mbd=2:trell -oac copy -o output.avi

The full version (Three days compressed into two minutes)  is in the Youtube clip below:

Monitoring the outside world with a webcam and motion

Picture of mouse leaving his little home - a hole in the ground.

Caught on camera!

Well… I saw a suspicious hole in the ground and wondered if it was occupied. I put a small stick across it and in the morning it was gone. Something must have been living in the hole! One way to find out would be with Motion and a cheap webcam. I don’t have the official Raspberry Pi camera, or the NoIR version, but I hoped the white LEDs built into my camera might not frighten the critter into hiding. I suppose if someone shone a spotlight at my front door all night I’d find an exit elsewhere…

I set up Apache on the Raspberry Pi to give Motion somewhere to put the files so that I could access them and see them remotely. I haven’t got a web browser that supports Motion’s video stream so that wasn’t too helpful. However, by taking the laptop outside and pressing refresh (f5) on the browser, I was able to focus the lens on the webcam.

All the settings for Motion were done through the web interface on port 8080. I had to enable this first in /etc/motion/motion.conf as I didn’t want to do it locally. Snapshots were enabled for every 10 seconds along with 5 frames of pre and post roll video.

Last night at 9:50 (ish) the hole dweller was revealed. A troll, an orc? No… it’s a little mouse.