I set up several wildlife cameras, and an IP camera connected to the internet to track the coming and going at my rural property. But the passive infrared detector on the wildlife cameras don't work very well in the winter cold, and the IP (internet) camera's motion detection isn't very good.
This was my excuse to buy a Raspberry Pi computer and camera module to experiment with building something more sensitive.
A problem with the Raspberry Pi, is that it's so much lighter than the cables that connect to it. It's all too easy to pull it off the table by accident.
I cobbled together a simple stand to hold the computer, cables and camera. Hacking around with the Raspberry Pi was so much fun that I decided to get a second one. So now I needed another stand. This time, I documented the construction.
I start with a scrap of plywood, and punch some holes through the Raspberry Pi's mounting hole with an awl to transfer the screw hole locations. Then drill pilot holes.
You can also see a black cable off to the left in this photo. I didn't have a micro USB cable handy, so I soldered a cut-off USB cable to the power pins instead.
I didn't have any wood screws small enough for the holes in the Raspberry Pi, so I used some small machine screws and screwed these straight into slightly undersized holes in the plywood.
I made some wooden spacers to go under the board to allow for room for the components on the bottom and the cable.
I added a board with slots opposite to the USB and Ethernet connectors to pass the cables through.
I figure that way, if I trip over the cables, the connectors won't get yanked to the side, so it shouldn't damage the connectors.
A hole in the plywood base makes it easier to push the tab on the Ethernet connector to release the Ethernet cable.
The block next to the HDMI connector protects it against getting yanked off to the side. There are two holes in the block to allow access to the micro-USB connector and 3 mm audio connector. I won't be using the power connector on this one because I already have a power cable soldered to the board.
I also made turn-able and tilt-able camera module holder for it.
This started as a block of wood. I drilled pilot holes for the screws, then cut a notch along the length, and one across it on the bandsaw.
These notches provide clearance for the components and ribbon cable connector on the back of the module.
The camera module itself is a 5-megapixel cellphone camera module. Very very small, with a very tiny lens. Surprisingly acceptable photo quality, all things considered. Better than the wildlife cameras, and better than webcams.
I cut a slot in the bottom of the block, and a dowel, flattened on two sides, fits in the slot. A hole drilled through both parts acts as a hinge pin.
For a hinge pin, I used a machine screw, which fits tightly in the hole. That way, I could just screw the pin in, and there is enough friction that the camera keeps whatever tilt that it's set to.
Finally, screwing on the camera module, with some very tiny machine screws. As with the main board, these are just screwed into the wood.
A clamp, tightened with a wood screw, holds the post for the Pi's camera. This allows me to adjust it side-to-side.
I also made another small bracket to help support the long antenna on the USB wifi adapter. The adapter's connector is all plastic so I could easily snap off, especially with a big antenna hanging off it. It has to be relatively far back so the lower USB connector can still be used.
I also made a top cover for one of my Raspberry Pi holders, with a camera mount at an angle. This is the one I mounted to the garage on my big garage shop in the country
I bought both of my Raspberry Pis before the Pi 2 came out. But for what I'm doing the slower Pi 1 (model B+) is fast enough. I can only get about three still frames per second out of the camera module, and analyzing those takes under 20% CPU utilization.
I have been experimenting with motion triggered timelapses (using my imgcomp program Here's one such timelapse: A day on my street - motion triggered timelapse
The Raspberry Pi article caused an increase in the number of people asking "Why don't you build a CNC machine". Here's why not
Several people have asked where to buy a Raspberry Pi. I bought my first one off of Amazon. The second one, I bought from Buy a Pi.ca. That option is cheaper for Canada. And they just happen to be within walking distance from my house and offer local pickup for online orders, so I didn't even have to pay for shipping.
Three years after the above article, I set up another surrvielance camera using a raspberry pi, mounted outside, and powered over ethernet.
I have also used one of my Raspberry Pis to try to see how the mice escape my bucket mice trap. But it apperas there weren't any mice left to trap. My set-up only confirmed that nothing happened!
Later that same year I successfully used it to monitor and optimize a mouse trap