Setting up a Pi Zero W and Octocam

The Kit

A small camera in an octopus shaped acrylic stand
Pi Zero W and Octocam

I wanted to get a time-lapse camera setup to monitor my aquarium. The OctoCam – Pi Zero W Project Kit seemed like a good fit for the job. As the camera would be out in a high traffic place I didn’t want to be using breadboards or have to solder components that might be delicate to knocks.

The OctoCam kit has everything you’ll need, including a Pi Zero W, a super-small 5MP camera, a fun octopus acrylic mount with four suction cups, and a desk stand. It’ll take you around 30 minutes to put it all together…

The kit includes:

  • Pi Zero W
  • 5MP camera with built-in cable and circuitry
  • OctoCam acrylic mount, suction cups, desk stand
  • 50cm USB A to micro-B cable
  • USB A (female) to micro B (male) adaptor
  • Mini to full-size HDMI adaptor
  • Male 2×20 pin header
  • Sticker sheet
  • Comes in a reusable kit box

I ordered mine from Pimoroni and it cost £40. NB: it does not come with a power supply or micro SD card.

The physical setup was quite easy, although attaching the acrylic stand is a little fiddly. A good guide to putting the kit together can be found here.

Setting up the OS

I downloaded NOOBS (New Out Of the Box Software) Operating system onto a SD card.

It was a somple case of downloading the .zip file from the above link and extracting the contents straight onto the SD card, which was plugged in as a USB stick in my PC. If you need more help installing the OS, you can find it here.

I then placed the SD card into the Pi Zero W, attached a HDMI cable and a keyboard (no mouse) and then powered up the machine.

The OS automatically began the install. During the installation I was prompted to install Raspbian. I selected the menu item by pressing space and then ‘i’ to install.

Updating the OS

Once the Pi Zero W booted into Raspbian, I used the keyboard to navigate to Terminal. Hint: pressing the Windows key caused the Menu to open.

In order to get the Pi Zero W onto my wireless, I ran:

sudo raspi-config

I chose option “2 Network Options” and then chose the wifi option and entered the SSID (Network Name) and the wifi password.

Next up, I wanted to update Raspbian, by running:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

After this, I rebooted the Pi Zero W.

Setting up VNC on the Pi Zero W

VNC is remote viewer that will let me control Pi Zero W remotely from my main PC through its monitor, keyboard and mouse. This is far more convenient than directly plugging into the Pi Zero W, as it cannot support both a keyboard and mouse. To setup VNC, in Terminal I ran:

sudo raspi-config

I then chose “5 Interfacing Options” and then “P3 VNC”.

As I have two Raspberry Pi machines, I also changed the hostname of the Pi Zero W by choosing “2 Network Options” and then “N1 Hostname”.

Before I could VNC into the Pi Zero W, I had to know its IP address on my local network. So I ran:

ifconfig

The ip address of wlan0 adapter is the IP address I needed.

I downloaded VNC Viewer (not Server!) onto my main PC and then connected to the Pi Zero W by entering the ip address of the machine.

Unfortunately in headless mode (no monitor and peripherals) the Pi Zero W defaults to minimal resolution. I changed this by running:

sudo raspi-config

Then in “Advanced Options” and “Resolution”, I set the resolution of the Pi Zero W to the highest resolution, which my monitor supports.

Then I rebooted the machine.

Updating and Configuring the Octocam

Firstly I updated the camera firmware by running:

sudo rpi-update

This required a reboot after the Octocam firmware update.

Then I checked that I had the latest camera packages installed by running:

sudo apt-get install python-picamera python3-picamera

To get the camera to take a photo, in Terminal I ran:

raspistill -o cam.jpg

This took an image called cam.jpg and saved it in my user home directory.

Then using raspistill I played around with the configuration settings of the Octocam, using the above command (with different .jpg filenames) to compare the changes I was making.

These were the settings I needed up choosing:

raspistill -sh 100
raspistill -iso 800
raspistill -awb fluorescent
raspistill -br 20

You can see all the parameters available in raspistill by running the following command in Terminal, or you can view them here.

raspistill

Running original Baldur’s Gate on Windows 10

I have an original set of Baldur’s Gate & Tales of The Sword Coast CDs from a long time ago!

Baldurs Gate CDs

The Enhanced Edition has some changes to NPC companions, so I wanted to get the original edition running again. So, below are the steps I took to get it working on Windows 10, without using an addons or mods.

Install options

Here are the options I took:

1) Custom Install
2) Cache size set to 240MB
3) CPU above 200MHz
4) Selected all components
5) Got an error message that there wasn’t enough space to install (I ha 700GB free!) but clicked Continue
6) Installed ToTSC again choosing Custom and all the components
7) Selected No for installing DirectX 6.1

Game patch

Then, I patched the game by applying the BGTalesUK5512 patch. You may need to choose other patches depending on your locale.

Windows 10 settings

Right clicking on the application, I choose Run As Administrator but I kept receiving a Windows error. It stated:

BGMain2.exe - Application Error
The application was unable to start correctly (0xc000022). Click OK to close the application.

BGMain2.exe Application Error 0xc0000022

In order to make Baldur’s Gate run, I then:

1) Opened Control Panel
2) Clicked on Programs and Features.
3) In the upper left corner, I clicked “Turn Windows Features On or Off”
4) Under Legacy Components, I expanded it and checked the Direct Play item
5) Then I clicked OK.

After this, Baldur’s Gate ran absolutely fine.

In the future, I may play around with trying to get a widescreen / higher screen resolution or no-CD mod working. But for now I’m content to head back into the game and experience it in it’s original form.

LMoP: Character tokens and table cards

This week the players have chosen their characters and character names, so I spent the day creating the character tokens and table cards.

Character tokens

I really wish I was talented enough to be able to draw. Since any attempt looks like something from a primary school art lesson, I found these great character images by searching on Pinterest (links below).

I scaled them down to be 1.25″ diameter and adjusted the heights to account for the differences between the different races. A check on Reddit advised on the fonts in the D&D 5th Edition Players Handbook and then I googled for free alternatives (see below) – hopefully this means that the name labels look similar.

Player Tokens

I printed out two copies on photographic paper, SprayMounted them together and laminated them. Unfortunately, they are a little loose in the stands but I was limited to thickness that the laminator would take. That said, I think they look cute.

Character table cards

I saw these character table cards on Reddit and they looked amazing. I thought that these would help our new group understand each other’s stats.

Player Cards

Also, I thought it might help me easily see some of their stats without having to keep flicking through my DM folder. Whilst I think they look nice for the players to see a larger image of their character, I got the font size too small to read across the table ! D’oh !

References

Images:

Fonts:

Dragon Age: Inquistion – done!

So after a wonderful 150 hours, my first playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition and the 3 single player DLCs – Jaws of Hakkon, Descent and Trespasser – on Normal mode, is done.

As to be expected from Bioware and especially from this franchise, the storytelling was superb. I laughed, cried and definitely clapped out loud in delight through the whole epic storyline. It really has been a wonderful gaming experience.

Leodra, my dual-wield rogue from my Normal playthrough in Dragon Age Inquisition
Leodra, my dual-wield rogue from my Normal playthrough in Dragon Age Inquisition

I still need to complete my Hard and Nightmare playthroughs and pick up some missing achievements…so I will definitely be returning to Thedas in the near future.

If you haven’t heard about Dragon Age: Inquisition, which garnered over 130 Game of the Year awards in 2014, here’s a little preview.

Robin of Sherwood: Knights of the Apocalypse

I loved Robin of Sherwood when I was growing up. The dashing hero (always Michael Praed for me) and the mix of pagan elements was a draw.

So the cast of Robin of Sherwood are re-uniting for a crowd-funded audio production. The script is adapted from a screenplay by Robin of Sherwood creator, Richard “Kip” Carpenter, whom passed away in 2012.

Any additional funds raised will go to the charities, the British Red Cross and the Sherwood Forest Trust.

Star Wars Cross Stitch

May The Force Be With You

Currently, I am going through the process of moving house. When my stress levels rise, I find that a good distraction is to create or craft something. In addition, one of my good friends, @psmorrison, had a birthday coming up and I think it is nice to give gifts that have taken time to find or make.

Surfing through Etsy, always a dangerous past time on my wallet, I found this lovely little Star Wars cross stitch pattern from pixelpowerdesign.

After a few nights, voila…

May The Force Be With You Cross Stitch

Dragon Age Inquisition trailer

The first Dragon Age Inquisition trailer was shown during E3.

I love this series of games and this trailer shows glimpses of the next chapter in the engaging storyline, building on Dragon Age: Origins, Awakening and Dragon Age II.

The trailer features the Dragon Age II characters of Varric, Morrigan and Cassandra.

The game is slated to launch Autumn 2014.

Cinematic Intro to Neverwinter MMORPG released

Cryptic Studios have released the cinematic introduction to their new Neverwinter MMORPG, ahead of the recent open beta. It showcases four out of the five current available classes – Trickster Rogue, Devoted Cleric, Control Wizard and Great Weapon Fighter and is well worth a watch.

Having played both a Devoted Cleric and a Control Wizard in the closed betas so far, I think this is going to be a fun MMORPG to explore.

World of Warcraft Memories

My World of Warcraft guild has been together for over four years now and through all the highs (new expansion packs) and lows (waiting for new expansion packs), it’s been an incredibly positive experience. However recently we’ve been hit by the double whammy of a heavy grind-for-gear expansion and low population server which has meant that we’ve struggled outside of our core raiding team to get regular full 10-man raids. Consequently we decided to move the guild to a high population server.

Such moves often have a disruptive effect of only carrying over dedicated guild members, due to the transfer fee, so we knew we would lose more of our part time members – often those who’s main characters aren’t in the guild. Therefore this was a watershed moment for our little community. I started pulling together a few screenshots to commemorate the last four years in World of Warcraft and this is what I ended up with…