Raspberry Pi Security Camera – A few changes.

FFEZZEMHOHYIK93.LARGEI recently built a rather cool security camera using a Raspberry Pi after finding a very detailed, easy to follow intructable.

After having the unit on test for a few day I reviewed the video created by the camera and noticed they were all very jumpy. Even though I had selected a 3 Frame Per Second (fps) recording rate, the output files were all captured at around 1 fps.

I thought I would improve on this and tried many different parameters until I found what I think is a good compromise between video size and frame rate. My new output may be it a little smaller than I would have liked, but I think the increase in frame rate is worth trading a few pixels for.

GPU changes

The first change I made was to the amount of memory used by the GPU. This was set by default at 128Mb. Using the command sudo raspi-config to change this value to 256Mb, this improved the frame rate a little but the output video was still very choppy.

Video Size Changes

Next I tried editing the motion detection software configuration file using sudo nano /etc/motion.conf and made some changes to the output resolution. I found the best all round results were obtained using a frame that is 512 wide by 288 tall (it is important to note that these figures need to be multiples of 16), and a frame rat of between 4 and 10 fps.

Threshold Changes

While we are in the config file, it is also worth changing the threshold that defines the number of pixels that need to change before recording starts, the default value was 1500, which is around 0.2% of a 1280 X 720 (hd) frame. As my frame size was reduced I decided to keep the same percentage of pixels so used a value of 300. This should keep the sensitivity the same as for a full HD video.

I than saved my changes and used the command sudo service motion reload to apply the changes I had made to the configuration file without the need to restart my Raspberry Pi.

The following video was taken at 512 X 288 @ 4fps…


The following video was taken at 512 X 288 @ 10fps


I think this demonstrates that the Raspberry Pi can be used to make a serviceable surveillance camera, but, I do not think it is capable of recording full HD video, The camera module may be capable of shooting HD, but the Pi is not able to capture the data quick enough leading to slow frame rate video files.

A little about my set up

I am using the Pi NoIr camera with a 12V IR LED ring, both the Pi and the LED ring are powered from a 12V 3A supply. The 5V rail for the Pi is achieved by splicing a 12V car cigarette lighter to USB adaptor into the supply cable and then powering the Pi using a USB to Micro USB Lead. I have had some good results using this method, low  and zero light recordings are very good, unfortunately, I do not have any that are worth sharing at the moment, but once I do I will post them here.


I am really pleased with the “no light” video output from the camera, the short video below shows the cats play fighting in the dark.

The following video was taken in the dark at 512 X 288 @ 10fps

Spam Email is getting worse.

Is it just me, or is spam email on the increase? It could be that I am getting more because I own a domain name or three, or maybe it is because companies are being less than careful with users personal data.

I use one of my domains to allow me to use exclusive email addresses for every website I sign up to (obviously not this one, nor one I am going to mention here). It may be surprising to learn that I am receiving most of my spam emails to addresses set up exclusively for number of BIG names on the internet, this list includes the following worst offenders….

  • Facebook
  • Groupon
  • Voucher Cloud

I am not just talking about unsolicited emails but also a high number of messages that contain suspicious attachments likely to contain viruses or mail-ware (I have won this, or purchased that, or a Nigerian want to give me money). Definitely not what I would expect from the big names above.

These companies may have been victims of some kind of attack that has put our data at risk, or they may have sold the data to other companies, or they may have employees that are giving away this information freely. Of course there is also the possibility of dictionary attacks, However, considering the structure I use for the email addresses I personally think this is unlikely.

I am awaiting responses from all of the above mentioned companies and a few more, it will be interesting to hear what they have to say for themselves.

Lightening Map

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 19.22.09I stumbled across a useful little website for anyone who is interested in lightening. lighteningmaps.org uses data from a network of sensors dotted all over the world. Each sensor is assembled and managed by the owner and its data is transmitted to the website in real time. There is usually a real time lag of around 5 seconds, rather impressive for a free service.



Cool rope animation in SolidWorks

I was searching the internet looking for a tutorial on producing a complex animation for a product I am designing at work and I stumbled across the video below. Even though the content did not really help solve my problem it has made me look at it from a different prospective.

Sometimes you may not find the answers you are looking for, but you can often find alternative ways of looking at the same problem, giving you the ability to learn new techniques and ideas that help you to truly understand the original problem.

The South @ Frome’s Cheese and Grain 07-June-2014

One of my birthday presents this year was to see The South live at The Cheese and Grain,Frome. I had a fantastic evening watching what the remnants of Beautiful South. They were one of the the best live acts I have ever seen, if you get the chance to see them, go, you will not be disappointed. Thanks to Karen for a lovely birthday present, it was certainly worth waiting for.

Proposal to move the weekend

cloudHave you ever noticed how the weather is usually really nice on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but at the weekend it is either overcast, rainy or worse?

This pattern repeats itself week after week, month after month, year after year, so why don’t we move the weekend to Tuesday and Wednesday with Bank Holidays on Thursdays?

That didn’t take as long as expected

Thanks to a rather handy website, https://web.archive.org/ I managed to rebuild my website in less than two hours. I am missing a few images, and the odd page or so, but most of my old website was cached on their server at one time or another.

I was staring down the barrel of hour and hours of page recreation, but got very lucky in finding the above website. The only thing I had saved was my old WordPress theme configuration file, which has saved me hours of trying to remember where all those obscure settings are.

Bottom line, timbobtastic.com is now pretty much back together. It is certainly in a much better place compared to a few months ago.