Pi Zero Dropcam




Introduction: Pi Zero Dropcam

About: Musician, Maker, Engineer, Artist.

So you got yourself a Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera kit?

For this Instructable, I designed a lo-tech faceplate with a heat-sink / camera hole. The plate, along with some other easy to find parts, can be assembled to make a fully portable, Internet enabled camera system. When you're done, you'll have a reliable platform that can keep your Pi Zero running for days at a time without re-charging. Possible applications include baby monitor, security cam, pet cam, conservation cam or any other practical, artistic or internet enable camera you can think of. In fact, the case I designed should work just as well without a camera, so the pros out there are welcome to download the vector graphic for the mounting panels and re-mix the whole thing. If you've got your Zero setup and the plywood pre-cut, the rest of the build should take less than an hour.

Here's what you'll need:

Raspberry Pi Zero and camera kit, $40 or less

Adafruit Pi Zero Camera Kit

A USB cellphone charger, $30 or less

Anker 10,000 mAh

WiFi Dongle, $9 or less

NewEgg Edimax

The Plate Vectors, Free

Youmagine SVG

Etc. $1 or less

Scrap 1/8" birch ply

2mm zip ties x 4

Sticky back felt strips

A rubberband or two

Total: $80

This is kind of expensive, but keep in mind that I went with the premium parts and didn't wait for slow shipping items or look for great deals, so you could easily substitute some materials and get the same result for cheaper.

Step 1: Apply Some Protective Felt

Assuming that you already cut the faceplates and you've got all your materials ready, the first thing to do is apply some felt strips to the back of the camera module. The module is going to sit between the faceplate and the Pi Zero, so you want to insulate it a bit and create a nice smooth surface for it to sit between the SMC components on the top of the board. Be creative, but you don't need much felt.

Step 2: Sudo Make Me a Sandwich!

Grab your face plate and back plate and make a sandwich with the Zero and the camera module. The camera should be facing out of the hole and resting atop the CPU. Gently work it around until it all sits nice and level and doesn't rough up the underlaying components. Also make sure not to kink the camera connector. Picture shows wifi dongle already installed using something like this: Micro USB adapters. Forgot to mention them in the BoM!

Step 3: Ziptie That Sandwich Up

You know the drill. 4 holes, 4 zips. Nice and neat, laces out.

Step 4: Clip and Snip

Clip off those long ends of the zip ties and neaten everything up. You should now have the complete package. From here on out, you might decide on a totally different power supply for this guy, but if you want to use something like the 10,000 mAh Anker Power Core, follow me...

Step 5: Rubberbands!

Behold, the mighty power of the humble rubber band. Didn't think it could do that, did ya? Now is also a good time to tuck in the remaining loops of camera cable. It should tuck and roll nicely without kinking.

Step 6: Take Pictures!

Login to your WiFi-Pi and tryout `raspistill`, but before you do that, you may need to check permissions on the camera device. Lemme point you in the right direction. And voila, There's my cat's butt... and there's his cute face. RPi Cam Web Interface is a great project that will get you going with real time streaming over IP.

Step 7: We're Done Here.

Hope you enjoyed the build. Now go put your camera skills to good use. The world needs you and your new found wireless, Internet enabled camera. Have fun.

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Cute cat. Hmmm, lets see who is eating the cookies


    3 years ago

    For whatever reason, the link to the Youmagine file is doing nothing, try this direct one:



    Reply 3 years ago

    fixed, thanks.


    Reply 3 years ago

    No problem, just making sure to get all the needed info when archiving projects that I find interesting.