Introduction: Pi Zero Peep Hole Camera

About: Making and sharing are my two biggest passions! In total I've published hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. I'm a New York City motorcyclist and unrepentant dog mom. My wo…

What follows is are the details of my peep hole webcam built with a Raspberry Pi Zero. I live in a large NYC apartment building and am regularly curious about sounds I hear coming from the hallway, and wish I had an eye outside from my desk. I have successfully used this webcam peep hole rig to identify The Hallway Whistler, among other mysteries. Using the motion detection, one could configure such a system to automatically take/upload photos and videos of door events. But I'm no Linux expert-- I largely followed Tony D's Cloud Cam tutorial on Adafruit for the software configurations required!

For this project you will need:

To keep up with what I'm working on, follow me on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and subscribe to my newsletter.

Step 1: Configure WiFi

First up it's configuration time! Plug in your wireless keyboard/mouse dongle to your powered usb hub and configure the wifi module to join your local network. After your Pi connects to the internet, you can log in to it remotely using SSH from your regular computer, unless you like the punishing tinyness of the keyboard and monitor combo.

Step 2: Configure Camera & Motion

Install motion and configure the setup it as a live webcam, motion-activated photo-taker, timelapse camera, or whatever else your heart desires.

Step 3: Install and Test

Once everything's working, you can disconnect the monitor and USB hub, leaving only the power supply and wifi module plugged in. Then it's time to attach it to the door.

Since my door is steel, magnets work quite well to suspend a plastic bag of components near the peep hole. At first I tried taping it in place where you look into it. This arrangement wasn't pretty, but it works!

Step 4: Refine

The camera was too far from the lens of the peep hole-- I had to open it up and get it closer! My doorbell takes up the rest of the space in the compartment but there was plenty of free space, especially considering I don't need or love my doorbell so much. I swapped the clear plastic bag for an old zip-up makeup bag, and re-installed the cover. The battery arrangement is temporary until I get an extension cord run down the long hallway to my front door.

I also wasn't thrilled with how backlit my subjects looked through the camera, so I tried swapping the regular camera for the Raspberry Pi NoIR camera, with only little improvement in the visibility of facial features. Got any hot tips for getting IR LEDs to shine out the peep hole without reflecting on the plastic and ruining the image? Leave your suggestions in the comments! =D

Step 5: Use It!

I used the monitor from setup as a webcam monitor for this project by plugging it into my computer as an external display. I loaded up the local webcam address and voila, security feed from the front door!