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The View From Here - 10/29/2023

Created by Charles on 10/29/2023. Updated on 10/31/2023.

2023 October 28 22 11 40 Slice Septic North
Moonlit Night - North. 10/28/2023.

For a number of years my wife and I used a now archived project and a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B to take photographs of and sensor readings from an area inside our house. The project worked nicely and was a good learning experience.

Once the project was defunct I found myself enjoying commercial sensor products more than using sensors on a Pi (SensorPush and Tempest Weather System for example), but the intersection of photography and programming the Pi offered remained very intriguing...

2023 October Largely Recycled Pi Camera Enclosure
Largely Recycled Pi Camera Enclosure. 10/16/2023.

This year we built a 12V solar system at our home that has enough spare power to easily run a few Pis - and it happens to be in a spot with a decent view - so I got to work purchasing Pis with cameras, building weatherproof enclosures and writing software for a new photography project!

For Pis I went with:

2023 October Camera Mounted to the Front of the Pi Enclosure
Camera Mounted to the Front of the Pi Enclosure. 10/12/2023.

The Pis need to be outside for this project and so a weatherproof enclosure was a necessity. For the enclosures I used wood, glue, screws, nails, paint and screen that we already had around the house. My carpentry and painting was very basic - not really worth comment - but the process of getting the camera lens sealed was interesting and worth sharing:

The total cost of a Pi and enclosure was around $100 - you can easily find security cameras or game cameras at this price point which likely have some features that would be time consuming to replicate with a Pi, but for some projects the flexibility of having your camera connected to an open general purpose computer is hard to beat!

2023 October Bottom of the Pi Enclosure
Bottom of the Pi Enclosure. 10/12/2023.
2023 October Three Pi Enclosures Facing Roughly East, North and West
Three Pi Enclosures Facing Roughly East, North and West. 10/12/2023.

Taking photographs with a Pi and the official camera modules is easy to script and there are some interesting pieces of software available like allsky - but for this project I decided to write my own software in C# to allow the scheduling that I wanted.

The software is available on GitHub - cmiles/PiSlicedDayPhotos - features include:

2023 October 20 14 12 40 Slice Septic West
Daylight Document - West. 10/20/2023.
2023 October 20 14 12 39 Slice Septic North
Daylight Document - North. 10/20/2023.
2023 October 20 14 12 40 Slice Septic East
Daylight Document - West. 10/20/2023.

The wide angle camera and three overlapping photographs give an interesting-to-me picture of the landscape surrounding us - sometimes during the day the photographs are pure documentation, hard to love full-sun-clear-sky-views, sometimes they capture interesting weather or nice light and even over the short time we have had them running you can see the sun move and the moon change.

But the individual photographs are really not the point of this project - if I want a great picture I have frequent access to this location, own higher quality cameras and gear and have enough skill to take and process better photographs than I can create with the Pi Camera Module.

The point of this project is to try to run these cameras for years of time - hopefully capturing interesting details like the landscape in wet years/dry years/hot years/cool years, watching the lights and the landscape change as areas are developed/preserved/destroyed/re-created and eventually allowing us to compare details from 1, 2, 3, 5 or 10+ years ago. Of course many long term projects never make it to old age - but fun to try regardless!!!

2023 October 24 10 48 40 Slice Septic West
Cloudy Day - West. 10/24/2023.
2023 October 24 10 48 40 Slice Septic North
Cloudy Day - North. 10/24/2023.
2023 October 24 10 48 40 Slice Septic East
Cloudy Day - East. 10/24/2023.
2023 October 16 17 54 00 Slice Septic West
Just after Sunset - West. 10/16/2023.
2023 October 16 17 54 00 Slice Septic North
Just after Sunset - North. 10/16/2023.
2023 October 16 17 54 00 Slice Septic East
Just after Sunset - East. 10/16/2023.
2023 October 16 22 14 20 Slice Septic North
Dark Night - North. 10/16/2023.

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