And now for something a wee bit different... Raspberry Pi Camera Concept / by James Moore


In my quest to try and create an Android device (I am exploring Android development at the moment without actually buying a Google Nexus 7) I've been playing around with a number of SDKs and some cheap hardware, with mixed degrees of success. Part of this process gave me a good excuse to pick up a Raspberry Pi to try some things other out - albeit without much in the way of positive results in respect to Android.

For those who may have never heard of the Pi, this is a British-designed and built, mini computer, not much bigger than a credit card running a basic ARM processor. You can pick them up from around £20-£30 and while it doesn't offer the standard desktop level of performance (it runs a version of Debian, version at the time of writing - Raspbian Wheezy)  they are still good for messing around with using simple programs.

With the recent release of the Raspberry Pi camera, this gave me some ideas about how I could apply some of the work I've been doing on iOS into this environment, in the form of a timelapse camera.

The camera is an add-on for the main board itself, with a 5MP sensor and full 1080p capability. Not too shabby in that respect, yet having this coupled with a self contained environment with its own filesystem, OS and driver software has given me some ideas for apps running on the Pi.

It'll run on AA batteries which may (or may not) give it around 11 hours of running time but this'll depend on the code, and where I can build in efficiencies (less pictures in darkness), time based stepping etc. This could be interesting in the Summer months with the lighter, longer nights coming in.

The camera itself will live in a tin of some kind (thinking Illy coffee tin) so it can be waterproof. This may also be a good means of taking heat away from the device through conduction.

I'm also thinking about a localised browser-based front end that allows you to customise settings, and maybe have a bit of image processing in there (film grain, black and white, borders, vignettes etc)

At this stage its early days. I am thinking about open sourcing some of the code once it's ready. The imaging unit has been ordered from RS Components, but it's got a 12 week delivery time!

UPDATE: The camera arrived very quickly after ordering. I'll put together a new post with some thoughts on the camera, as well as some concepts around hooking up to mobile and tablet devices.