Baby monitor (WiFi Camera)

This project is to build a wifi camera that I can use as a baby monitor. It will be based on a Raspberry Pi and Pi Camera.

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Setting up the camera

So this turned out to be far easier than I thought it would be! In fact it pretty much worked first time!

Here is how I did it!

You will need:

Raspberry Pi (I am using a Pi 3, as I had a spare one and it has built in WiFi)
Pi Power Supply
micro SD card
web cam.  (I am using the original official NoIR Pi camera).
network cable (for first boot)

The main reason it was so easy is because not only did I use a downloaded application, but the creator of the application had created a complete disk image that can be written on to a micro SD card and then inserted in to the Pi.  No need to mess around in Linux command prompts or even see Linux!

So first you need to download the motionEyeOS disk image from here you need to select the one that matches the type of board that you are using.

Now here is the hardest bit, rather than using a nice built-in-to-windows compression format a .gz file format has been used (this is gzip I believe).  So to uncompress this you need to install a third party compression application.  I opted for 7zip as I had heard of it before.  Go careful when you install it, you only want 7zip, not anything else the installer offers!  

You should now be able to uncompress the disk image by right clicking it and selecting 7zip -> Extract Here.

Right, now you need to get the disk image on to the SD card.  This is done using another third party tool, W32 Disk Imager.  This is the tool recommended by Raspberry Pi foundation and they have instructions to use it here.

One the image is written you can remove the SD card from your PC and insert it into the Pi.  Also make sure that your camera is connected.  You also need to connect the Pi to your network using a network cable for the first boot.  This is because the motion Eye OS does not know what your WiFi network and key is.

Now, power up the Pi, if you are using DHCP on your network then things are easy(ish), if you use static IP address assignment then you will need to look at the motionEyeOs wiki to set the network up (I have not looked, but I guess you need to edit a file on the SD card via windows/Linux on a PC.  If you don't know if you are using DHCP, then you probably are so keep following!

Okay, next we need to find out what IP has been assigned to the Pi.  The easiest way to do this is to look on your router's web interface and look for something like 'Home Network', LAN or DHCP.  What you are looking for is a list of all the devices on your network and their IP address.  In my case I have a BT homehub and it is conveniently on the front page.  In this list you are looking to find the device that starts with 'meye-'

Next you need to open a web browser and navigate to the address, when you get there you should hopefully be presented with a webpage that shows the image from your camera!

That is great, but we don't really want that network cable attached! So we need to get it on the wireless network!

Fortunately we can do that from this web interface (again no need for Linux! (yes I know it is Linux doing the web interface, but I don't have to see it!).  To start with we need to login into the camera as the admin user.  To do this we click the little head and shoulders icon in the top left of the page.  By default, the user is admin with no password.  Once logged in, if you click the menu icon (three line in a circle, top left), you should see a whole load of options!

The third section down is 'Network' you may need to expand this, and there you should find the options for wireless network! You basically need to switch it on, enter the name of your wifi network (you can get this from your PC/phone etc.) and enter you wireless network key. Once that is done you can select the 'Apply' button which will have appeared at the top (it's orange so it should stand out!).

That should be it!  You should now be able to unplug the network cable and restart the Pi (power off/on).  If your router is anything like mine then it will assign a different address when using wifi, so you will need to go back to the routers web interface and find the new address.  To test the camera is still working navigate to it in a browser again.

In my next post I will show you some settings that I changed to make it run a bit better and look at adding night vision!


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The Plan

I currently have two children (One 18 months and a 3 years old) and am expecting another in August.  I have two baby monitors, which are basically wifi IP cameras and rather than buy a third I am going to have a go at building one from a Raspberry Pi and Pi Camera.

I may also look at adding a temperature sensor, and overlaying the temperature on to the video.

I intend to use open source, freely available software, and the hard part (for me) will be mounting the camera in some sort of case!


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