If you have a pet, sometimes you want to know what your lovely little friend is doing while you're not at home.
I've built an inconspicuous spy cam which shoots a picture every 10 seconds and broadcasts it to a username and password protected website.
I wanted to have a look at my Don Sphynx cat at home, but, of course, you could also use it for your dog, fishes or any other purpose you want to have an eye on.
At first I took a little decoration chest and drilled some wholes in it. A little one on the front, where the camera will be placed, and two bigger ones at the back for some air conditioning in combination with a 40x40mm fan. I'll come back later to this topic.
I chose this chest because I wanted to have something that could stand in a room somewhere without being too suspicious. This thing could stand on your windowsill together with other decorating things and no one would take a deeper look at it. Also I wanted to have a dark case so that the black camera module would not be too prominent.
I will buy a keyhole frame for the camera whole, so it will be more hidden, even if you look directly at it.
Since I had one left in my assortment, I used a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, which is a credit card–sized single-board computer.
Usually this tiny computer won't be so hot that you need a fan for it, but I wanted to try out a little bit, and so I soldered my first own printed circuit board and wrote a little script which turns on a fan, if the Pi temperature goes higher than 40 degree.
And yes, I used Lego for my prototype. I would have printed the parts with a 3D printer, but unfortunately I don't have one.... yet!
Here I tried some different things. There is a program called "Motion" which let's the camera on, the whole time. And if the camera detects some motion it will record a video as long as the motion is there.
When I'm not at home, the most common device I have access to is my smartphone. One problem is that the video shouldn't be too large, because of my data tariff and it could be that you don't have a super fast connection to the internet at anytime. The other problem is that it's hard to find a comfortable way to convert those videos to a smartphone accessible format.
If I wanted a surveillance camera, I could just let the camera make a video if there is movement and automatically let it upload to my Dropbox or any other Cloud based storage. So I would have the videos even if an intruder would destroy the camera.
But since I wanted a way to look at what my cat is doing, an updated picture was sufficient. So I created a super rudimentary website with just a black background and a centered picture, protected with a username and password which shows me the updated image. Furthermore I wrote a little script which lets the camera take a new picture every 10 seconds and just replaces the old one.
Now, with the use of a Dynamic DNS Service (I used noip.com), I can have a quick look if everything is okay at home, from anywhere at anytime.
Well, I want to build a version of this Animal Cam, which is so easy to install, that even my mother could use it for her dog.
It should use the Raspberry Pi A+, which has less power, but it would be enough for the program. And it would be smaller than the Model 2 B.
Also I would use the infrared camera together with infrared LED's to also have a good image when the lights are off. Since cats and dogs and humans can't see infrared rays, this should be save.
And it would go into a smaller chest or case. But it should be something like a block or chest, because when the cat is walking around it could not overthrow the camera.
And it should be so easy, that you don't have to install a Dynamic DNS service by yourself. You should just plug the power plug in, register yourself on a website, and then you could press a streaming button. And of course it would not have a fan, since it's really not necessary.
I have to develop some things and do some research to reach this goal, but I'm very motivated to go this way. And who knows, maybe it will end up in creating a Kickstarter campaign.
Send me a short message on Twitter if you would be generally interested in this product. It would be great to have some feedback or insights on this.
Maybe you have some further ideas. Like using this as a spy cam, or to have an eye on your baby.
I'm looking forward to hear from you :)