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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.