You probably just bought a Raspberry Pi camera, and you want to know what you can do with it.
You’re at the good place, I’ll show you a giant list of projects ideas you can make with a Raspberry Pi and a camera.
No worry, you can also follow this inspiration post if you are looking to buy a camera module or if you have one for years in its box 🙂
Using a camera module on Raspberry Pi is not limited to taking photos. Many projects require a camera module, from creating a timelapse, building a photo booth or a doorbell camera, everything is possible.
Today, my role is only to give you a large panel of projects ideas, so you can choose one depending on your current skills and desires.
Info: if you just bought your camera or don’t remember how to install it, I recommend following this camera installation guide first, and come back here later.
1. Use it as an IP camera
If you are lost in all these new words and abbreviations, request my free Raspberry Pi glossary here (PDF format)!
The first thing you’ll probably try with a camera is a dumb IP camera.
I say dumb because you can do a lot more, as you’ll discover later.
An IP camera is the technical term for a camera stream you can watch from your web browser (computer or smartphone).
You can even share it over the Internet, depending on your goal.
You probably know famous webcam spots over the world, where you can watch a city place or a beautiful landscape (if not, check the Times Square live cam).
You can absolutely build this with your Raspberry Pi and a camera module.
To do this, there is a free package called “motion” available in apt.
More information in the Motion project documentation on how to configure it.
2. Create a timelapse
Don’t know what a timelapse is?
The idea is to take a picture at a regular interval (for example, once a minute during a day).
And then to create a short video of the day by gathering all images.
The result is very interesting.
Here is an example of what it looks like:
You’ll probably not get this result with a basic camera module 🙂
But you’ll learn the concept, and you can then improve the hardware if you like this.
On Raspberry Pi, it’s simple to create one.
You already know how to take a picture, you just need to automate this at a regular interval (crontab, python or bash script can do this).
Then ffmpeg or a most intuitive video editing software can help you to create a video with your picture’s folder.
3. Add a movement detector
The next idea is to use a movement detector sensor, or even a software, to record the live stream only when something happens.
This is a simple improvement to the first idea : IP Camera.
The motion software I mentioned can do this directly, with a few configuration lines.
I already tried it with my Raspberry Pi, but it was tough to find the perfect configuration.
Either it was too often (and was detecting the slightest light change), or didn’t detect me anymore 🙂
You can try Motion to get a first version of your motion detector camera.
But for better results, you’ll probably need a physical motion sensor (this one from Amazon is perfect and cheap, compatible with any Raspberry Pi).
4. Build a photo booth in Minecraft
A Raspberry Pi and a camera also allow you to build fun projects .
For example, the Raspberry Pi official website shows you how to assemble, build and code a photo booth in Minecraft.
As you may know, on Raspberry Pi you can interact with the Minecraft game in Python.
And Python allows you to control the camera, so it’s possible to have a link between a Minecraft game action (walking on a pressure plate, for example) and a camera action (taking a picture).
You can check the step-by-step guide from the Raspberry Pi website here.
5. Use it as a security camera
Yes, here is a new step in your IP camera solution.
Basic IP camera ⇒ motion sensor ⇒ security cameras.
Home security is an increasingly important market.
Manufacturers build sophisticated cameras to monitor your home.
But did you know that the Raspberry Pi can achieve this task?
Once you have the motion software configured with motion detector, you can configure something else: enable notifications.
Yes, Motion is a powerful software that allows many things.
The idea is to save the picture or video each time the detector triggers, and send it to you on your phone.
And the last thing you can do to protect your home, is to install multiple Raspberry Pi with cameras, and monitor all of them from your computer or smartphone.
This will cost you a lot less than professional equipment with almost the same features.
If you manage your home security yourself, don’t forget to double-check everything and monitor systems regularly (a powered off Raspberry Pi or a full SD card can make it all useless :/ ).
Nagios could help you for this.
6. Build a doorbell camera
This one is a mix between fun and useful.
The Raspberry Pi camera module is so small that you can use it to replace your old peephole.
Personally, I never receive unexpected visits.
So, when my doorbell rings, it’s most of the time commercial visits …
It makes me nervous. I need to check who is here, but I don’t open for unknown guys that just want me to buy their crap.
If you are like me (I hope not ^^), you’ll really like this project idea.
The goal here is to replace the door peephole by your Raspberry Pi camera.
You can follow this step-by-step project to see all the steps needed.
The project is probably more complex than you need.
For a simple check, you can absolutely keep your existing doorbell, and use your smartphone to see the live stream.
Some projects even go further, by using Alexa to do start a facial recognition of the person at your door 🙂
Check this project here.
7. Install an outdoor camera (solar-powered)
As you know, the Raspberry Pi consumes very little, and it is possible to power it via batteries.
For example, a power bank (even solar-powered like this one) or even the dedicated UPS for Raspberry Pi (check it on Amazon).
It’s also possible to directly connect it to a solar panel, they are not so expensive anymore (check this one on Pi-Supply, 100% compatible with Raspberry Pi).
It allows you to power or recharge the batteries in the day.
Our camera can become autonomous outdoor.
If you set up one of the movement detectors mentioned earlier, you will be able to take photos or videos closer to the animals in your area.
It is a project that can be interesting if you live in the countryside and want to observe the animals that run near your house 🙂
8. Film underwater
Nothing technical here, but you’ll need to be smart enough to find a way to build an underwater camera.
With this, you’ll be able to take pictures of everything under the sea level, or at the pool, without risk.
As you can have everything in a compact size, it’s not so hard to do.
Scientists have well understood the Raspberry Pi advantage for that kind of project.
For example, the LoBSTATS project aim to learn more about seafloor thanks to a Raspberry Pi and a motion sensor hidden in a small case.
9. Build your own Polaroid
Do you remember the Polaroid of your childhood?
A long time ago, before smartphone and selfies, it was the only way to take a picture and instantly share it 🙂
It’s possible to build a similar device with a Raspberry Pi (any model) and a thermal printer (this one on Amazon for example).
You don’t need so many things to build your own, and you’ll find a step-by-step guide in this Adafruit tutorial.
Yes, it’s white and black and low quality, but it’s fun enough to try it 🙂
And if you prefer the original one, it’s always possible to buy a recent Polaroid on Amazon, but it’s not the same price.
10. Create movies with a drone
Drones and especially drone movies are very popular now, but the hardware is expensive (over $600 for good products).
As a DIY expert, an idea can be to build your own with a Raspberry Pi and a few components.
Instructables has a good tutorial with a low-cost solution (about $100 if you already have a Raspberry Pi and a camera).
Yes, it’s not an out-of-the-box solution, but are you really looking for this?
I didn’t test it yet, but it doesn’t look so complicated for a decent result.
Let me know if you build yours 🙂
11. Build a real photo booth
After the Minecraft photo booth and the portable version with the Polaroid idea, let’s finish this inspiration list with a true photo booth stand.
The Raspberry Pi official website has a 20 pages detailed project to show you exactly how to build this and program it with Python.
The stuff needed is basic : Raspberry Pi, camera, breadboard and buttons.
You will be the king with this device in a birthday or a wedding party 🙂
Grab your free PDF file with all the commands you need to know on Raspberry Pi!
That’s it, the end of my inspiration list of projects ideas to try if you have a Raspberry Pi camera
I hope you find what you were looking for.
If you need extra projects ideas, you can have more in these posts:
- 16 Raspberry Pi Zero projects ideas
- 25 Raspberry Pi projects ideas at home
- Use your Pi Camera as a webcam for Skype or other software
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