Introduction - Raspberry Pi Nestbox Camera

In this guide I'm going to show you how to build a nestbox camera system using a Raspberry Pi computer and a webcam from scratch. There are a couple of guides for similar projects already available on the internet and I expect you'll use a combination of different ones to suit your own project but I hope that there is a complete methodology in here. Just to prime you: I'm writing this from a near-novice stand point so hopefully the instructions will be clear even to complete beginners but if there is anyone reading this who is more knowledgeable, I'd love to hear from you if you have improvements or recommendations. Currently the camera runs off mains power but I'm looking at the possibility of using solar power allowing the whole system to be set up away from a power source (so long as the sun shines!). If your camera will be in range of a wifi hotspot or in reach of your home router using an ethernet cable, you'll be able to watch the webcam live through a web browser and save the images to a location on your home network if required. Although this project came about in order to watch the wildlife around my home, it would work equally well for a home security system or something similar.

Assumptions

Right now the guide assumes that you'll have mains power for your Raspberry Pi and a wired internet connection to your Raspberry Pi so you can set it up without the need for a keyboard or monitor.

Contents

To make this as easy as possible to follow, I've split the guide up into different parts.

  1. Introduction: You're reading it! Here we'll look at what you'll need to get the project going and what our aims are.
  2. Setting up the Raspberry Pi out the box.
  3. Setting up the motion detection software.
  4. Viewing the saved images and setting up removable storage.

Shopping List

You're going to need several different items for this project.

  • Raspberry Pi (Model B or B+).
  • A micro USB power cable to power the Pi.
  • An SD card (8Gb or so) that will hold the operating system for the Raspberry Pi.
  • Access to another computer connected to the internet to prepare the SD card and log into the Raspberry Pi to set it up.
  • Access to your network router/home hub. Update: If you can't access your router (i.e. you don't know the username and password) you can use a tool like MAC Scanner to detect all the devices attached to your local network and get the IP address of the Raspberry Pi that way.
  • An ethernet cable to connect to your router for set up (you can use a WiFi dongle later).
  • Two USB sticks. I recommend about 8Gb each so you have plenty of space since this is where the recorded images will be saved. For the system to work you only need one stick but you won't be able to record images while you're looking at the images you've saved to it. So if you want 24/7 recording, you'll need two.
  • A compatible webcam. I use a Logitech C210. Some cameras require more power than that which the Raspberry Pi can provide so you might need a powered USB hub. Here's a list of compatible webcams with information on how they need to be powered.
  • A powered USB hub (optional, see above).
  • Some kind of weather-proof enclosure if the camera is going outside. I usually use an air-tight sandwich box with various holds drilled into it to allow the cables to get in.

In Part 2 of of the guide, we'll get the Raspberry Pi set up from scratch. This involves downloading and preparing the operating system then booting up the Raspberry Pi for the first time.