Category Archives: Smart spaces

Raspberry Pi based outdoor camera

It was time to replace one of my old outdoor Panasonic network cameras. They get damaged by the sun – the plastic bubble over the lens gets really nasty and the video ends up looking like there is perma-fog outside.

I have a few of these wide angle webcams around for other projects and it seemed like they might be ideal for this purpose. Since they are not weather-proof I needed a suitable housing. This one from Monoprice was the smallest that I could find. It’s still ludicrously large for this but never mind. I decided just to put the webcam in the housing (attached with hot glue – my favorite engineering material) and pass the USB cable through to the inside of the building to connect to a Raspberry Pi. This eliminates the need to ever open the housing again and reduces the number of wires from two to one (power and ethernet versus USB).

The result is not bad at all considering the cost and it certainly looks like a serious piece of equipment!

The image quality in the corners isn’t spectacular but at least gives good coverage. The housing does intrude at the top left and right but that’s not a major problem.

Yes, there are all kinds of outdoor cameras that you can buy at very reasonable cost. However, I certainly don’t want anything that relies on or involves a cloud service – I want my video data to remain on site at all times. Plus, this is a fully open system so that I can do whatever I want with the data without having to battle proprietary SDKs (even if they are available). For example, I do custom motion detection and multiple resolution stream generation in the camera itself which fits nicely with all the other components of my system.

The AwareSpace project

The earlier Smart space post got me thinking about other related projects and I came across these old screen captures from the AwareSpace project. This was a much more serious attempt to make use of ubiquitous sensor data. It worked fine, giving easy access to real time and historic data from sensors. There was even web access to the system. Like many projects, it was never really finished and needed a lot more work to do everything that I wanted. One day…

Smart spaces and IoT data – the challenge is what to do with it

A while back I built some add-on cards for Raspberry Pis to do some environmental monitoring around the house. This is one of them.

The project starting collecting dust when I couldn’t really think of good ways of using the data, beyond triggering an alarm under some conditions or something. However, it’s often interesting just to see what’s going on around the place so I have revived the sensors (a good use for old first generation Pis). The screen capture shows a simple but actually quite effective way of using the data that’s being generated, providing a display that’s adjacent to the camera feed from a webcam on the same Pi. Between the two streams, you can get good confidence on what’s happening in the smart space.

One day, I’d like to get the HoloLens integrated with this so that I can see the data when I am in the smart space. That would be even more fun.