How to use your Raspberry Pi Camera as a Webcam? (Skype demo)


You probably have no webcam at home but need to make a video call now
And you are thinking about your Raspberry Pi camera, but don’t know how to use it as a webcam.
That’s what I’ll show you today and it’s easy.

How to use your Raspberry Pi Camera as a Webcam?
In fact, it’s not possible to plug your Raspberry Pi Camera module on your computer.
But the solution I suggest is to stream the camera image on the network (IP camera), capture it on your computer and send it back to your favorite video call application (Skype for example).

In this post, I’ll explain step-by-step how to do this.
And as you’ll see, it’s faster, you only need the right software tools on your computer and on your Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi Preparation

Let’s start now with the Raspberry Pi preparation.

Install Raspbian

This tutorial is for the Raspbian distribution, so if you don’t have it yet, I recommend installing it now.
I have an entire guide on how to install Raspbian on Raspberry Pi, so I will not repeat everything here.

The Raspbian version has no importance.
I’m doing this tutorial on Raspbian Lite, so any version is fine.

Before going further you need to:

  • Install Raspbian by following the tutorial if needed.
  • Update Raspbian packages to the latest version:
    sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade && sudo reboot
  • Connect the Raspberry Pi to the network (Ethernet or Wi-Fi).
  • Enable SSH:
    sudo raspi-config

    Then go to Interfacing options, SSH, and answer “Yes”.
    You can now use SSH to do the next part of this tutorial.

That’s it, you are ready to start!

Plug the camera

You probably know how to do this if you have a camera, but don’t forget to plug it correctly on your Raspberry Pi.
Remove the slot protection and plug the cable as shown in this picture:

camera cable raspberry pi

Enable the camera

By default, the camera interface of the Raspberry Pi is not enabled.
To activate it, you need to use raspi-config:
sudo raspi-config

Then go to “Interfacing options” and select the “Camera” item.
Answer “Yes” and exit raspi-config.
The tool will ask you to reboot, accept and reboot.

After the reboot, it enables the camera, and we can now install the software.

Install Motion

Motion is a powerful software to do everything with your camera.
We’ll use it to stream the camera on the network (IP camera), but it can do a lot more.

To use it, follow this procedure:

  • Install motion and the required dependencies
    sudo apt install motion libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libavutil-dev libjpeg-dev libjpeg62-turbo-dev libpq-dev libswresample-dev
    Answer “Yes” to install them
  • Enable the camera driver:
    sudo modprobe bcm2835-v4l2
  • Use this command to check that the camera is visible and displays its settings:
    v4l2-ctl -V

    You will get something like: Format Video Capture: Width/Height : 1024/768 Pixel Format : 'JPEG' Field : None Bytes per Line : 0 Size Image : 786432 Colorspace : JPEG Transfer Function : Default YCbCr/HSV Encoding: Default Quantization : Default Flags

  • Then you need to configure motion.
    The best way I found is to download directly the configuration we need:
    wget https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ruqgv1h65zufr6/motion-mmal-lowflyerUK-20151114.tar.gz
  • Extract the files:
    tar -zxvf motion-mmal-lowflyerUK-20151114.tar.gz
  • Start motion:
    sudo motion -c motion-mmalcam-both.conf
    Feel free to adjust settings in this file to fit your camera configuration (image height and width for example).

To finish the Motion installation part, you just need to check the video stream before moving to the computer configuration.

Check the video stream

The live stream is available in HTTP, by using the Raspberry Pi IP address and the port 8081.
Open your web browser and go to http://<RASPBERRY_IP>:8081

Check that you can see correctly the live stream, with sufficient quality.
Now that you can see the live steam, you can adjust again the Motion configuration.

The goal of this tutorial is not to explain to you how to configure Motion
But you can find all the resources needed on their GitHub page.

Computer software installation

We now have your live stream working, and we need to use another software on the computer to relay the camera image in a video call.

SplitCam introduction

SplitCam is the software we’ll use to turn your IP camera to a webcam for your computer.
SplitCam allows, among other things, to create a virtual camera on your computer and send an IP camera flow into it.

We’ll use this software to have a camera available on Skype (or other video conference software), even if we don’t really have a camera on our computer.

Download & Install

SplitCam is a free software for Windows, you can download it from the official website.

Installation

To install it on your computer, follow this procedure:

  • Double-click on the file you just downloaded.
  • Keep the default values (“Next”, “Agree”, “Install”).
  • At the end of the installation, click “Next” and choose where you want to put shortcuts and set default options.
    Choose whatever you want. In my case, I keep only the Start menu shortcut.
  • Then hit “Finish” to start SplitCam.
    It may ask you to reboot to install the camera, it’s mandatory for the following.

Configuration

  • After the reboot, start SplitCam.
  • Click on “Sources” in the bottom menu.
  • In the drop-down list, make sure you select “IP Split Camera”.
    You’ll get something like this:
    splitcam sources
  • Then in the URL field, enter the live stream URL.
    For example: http://192.168.1.17:8081
    Click on Add.
  • After a few seconds, the line appears in the “IP Camera List” and the image in the main window.

You’re almost ready, you just need to configure your video call software now.

Skype configuration

I’ll show you how to use it in Skype, as I guess it’s always the most used tool for this.
But it’s the same thing with any software:

  • Start Skype.
  • Click on “…” in the left panel and choose “Settings”.
  • In the settings windows, go to “Audio & Video”.
  • In the Camera section, make sure that the “SplitCam Video driver” is your main camera:
    skype ip camera
  • You can check the camera image below.
    And you are ready to use your Raspberry Pi camera as a classic webcam 🙂

Related questions

How to auto-start motion on boot? We use a specific configuration file and command to start motion temporarily, but you can move the files to the default folders to configure it as a daemon.
Here is how to do this:
sudo mv motion /usr/bin/motion sudo mv motion-mmalcam-both.conf /etc/motion.conf

Then edit the daemon configuration file: sudo nano /etc/default/motion
And change the start_motion_daemon option to “yes”.
On the next reboot, motion will start directly.

Conclusion

That’s it, you now know how to use your Raspberry Pi camera as a webcam in any computer software.
I hope it was useful for you and that I saved you some money 🙂

If you want to get more ideas on what you can do with a camera, check my article about 21 projects ideas to do with a camera on Raspberry Pi.

Patrick Fromaget

I'm the lead author and owner of RaspberryTips.com. My goal is to help you with your Raspberry Pi problems using detailed guides and tutorials. In real life, I'm a Linux system administrator with a web developer experience.

17 thoughts on “How to use your Raspberry Pi Camera as a Webcam? (Skype demo)

  1. I am trying to use my raspberry pi camera as a webcam camera.right now im stuck trying to install the libswresample-dev package but it keeps giving an error. I hope someone can help answer this. Thanks.

      1. So i went to the motion github (https://motion-project.github.io/motion_build.html) and installed the abbreviated building guide along with the libraries that need to be installed that are under that. All of that worked and I was able to enable the camera driver and check that the camera was on. I also downloaded the configuration and extracted the files. However, when it tried to start it it got an error.

        sudo: motion: command not found

  2. I got to the very end, but all I see in the split cam app a loading screen of 5 blue dots crashing into each other. Is my camera not installed properly or incompatible? The camera I am using is one that shipped with the Pi so I doubt it’s incompatible

  3. I have tried this way and another method at this point, and neither have worked. For some reason, the “stream” either is just captured jpegs, or it is just running at very low frames. Please help. D:

  4. Hurray
    I could able to do it.. But unfortunately splitCam application is not stable, crashes many times, fails to connect many times.

  5. Sorry but I messed it up
    After doing
    sudo mv motion /usr/bin/motion
    sudo mv motion-mmalcam-both.conf /etc/motion.conf
    Camera is not starting after reboot
    When I tried manually I’m unable to do that
    why I redone all the steps again, I got this message:
    pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo motion -c motion-mmalcam-both.conf
    motion: error while loading shared libraries: libavformat.so.56: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

  6. I Don’t know if splitcam.exe should be installed in the Raspberry Pi. In this case which application should I use for it? I Don’t know how to do with the. exe file to install splitcam in my Rasp

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