Solar Powered Raspberry Pi based Wireless Security Camera System (DiY)

Why buy an expensive security camera when you can build your own?

Solar Powered Wireless Security Camera System (Raspberry Pi DiY)

I was looking for a new security camera to put on my driveway that would capture and store video off-site and work wirelessly from a location about 100 feet (~25 meters) from the house.  I looked at a number of off the shelf products but they almost all required wires to be run and when looking at my requirements the costs were escalating quickly so I decided to build my own.

To see what I built, start with the video above. Then read on for a parts list and the software you’ll need to make your own.

Parts

For parts, here is the complete list (clicking on the part will take you to the product page on Amazon):

Raspberry Pi Zero W Starter Kit
Raspberry Pi Zero W Starter Kit

Vantech Weatherproof Camera Enclosure
Vantech Weatherproof Camera Enclosure

Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera Module
Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera Module

Raspberry Pi Night Vision Wide Angle Camera
Raspberry Pi Night Vision Wide Angle Camera

Camera Cable for Raspberry Pi Zero
Camera Cable for Raspberry Pi Zero

SanDisk 16GB MicroSD
SanDisk 16GB MicroSD

Outdoor Enclosure
Outdoor Enclosure

Renogy 100w Solar Starter Kit
Renogy 100w Solar Starter Kit

12v LED IR Light
12v LED IR Light

Software

The software running on the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a package called Motion and the Dropbox Uploader – for ease of install I suggest leveraging Pigeon which handles the install and configuration of both.  You can find details on Pigeon including installation instructions here: https://github.com/geraldoramos/pigeon

Note that by default Pigeon is going to configure the video at a fairly low resolution of 640×480, this is a good default for the low-power Raspberry Pi Zero.  I was able to get my resolution 4x, to 1280×960, but at this rate Motion is only able to record about 3-5 frames per second.  I prefer the higher resolution and lower framerate for a security camera as I want to be able to capture more details rather than more fluid motion.  Expect to spend some time fiddling with the Motion settings for your specific application.

Solar angle calculations

You could do the math yourself, but I find it easier to use an online calculator to determine the best angle for the solar panel.  This one worked well for me: http://solarelectricityhandbook.com/solar-angle-calculator.html

Connectivity

My security camera itself may all be wireless and self-contained, but at the distance from the house WiFi does not have a great signal.  To rectify this I use an outdoor mesh wireless access point from Ubiquity which gives me great outdoor coverage.  The scope of installing a mesh wireless network is outside of the scope of this article (perhaps we can revisit that another day).

Picture Gallery

Hope you find this helpful in your endeavors, and be sure to share!

Erik

Technology, science, building things and experiencing the world. What more could anyone ask for?

FreeLearner.how founder and doer of many things

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