Setting Up the MotionEye OS on the Raspberry Pi Zero W

Introduction: Setting Up the MotionEye OS on the Raspberry Pi Zero W

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Having tested out the ESP32-CAM board in the previous videos, it is safe to say that the video quality is not exactly brilliant. It's a compact and extremely cost-effective board that is also easy to use and this makes it perfect for beginners. But if you are looking to build an actual DIY home surveillance system then it wouldn't be the best setup to go for.


Using the motionEye OS with the Raspberry Pi board is the next popular thing around. In this post, we learn how to set it up, go over the features and options and I also end things by giving you my thoughts on the system and why I don't think it's a good enough solution.

The video above gives you an overview of everything and it would make sense to watch it to view all the options and features provided by motionEye OS.

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Step 1: Gather the Electronics

I'll be using the Raspberry Pi Zero W as that is currently a cost-effective and compact variant. You can use any other Raspberry Pi board that you may have. I'll also be using v2 of the official camera module. If you are using the Pi Zero W, then you will need an adaptor cable for the camera as the connector on the Pi Zero is smaller than that compared to the full-sized Raspberry Pis.

Apart from the items shown in the image, you will need a way to access the microSD card contents. A microSD card adaptor or USB card reader will work fine, depending on your system. Connecting a display is optional but it would be recommended to do this when booting for the first time.

Step 2: Prepare the Operating System

The Raspberry Pi needs an operating system for it to function correctly, so start by visiting the software download page and obtain the image for your particular board. Download etcher, plug in the microSD card and flash the image to the card. Before we can insert the microSD card into the board, we need to specify the WiFi network details as the board needs to connect to the network for it to work correctly. You can use a text editor like Notepad++ to do this. Alternatively, you can also download the template file from the link below and update it with your network details and country code. Once done, copy the file to the microSD card and eject the card.

MotionEye OS: https://github.com/ccrisan/motioneyeos/wiki

Etcher: https://www.balena.io/etcher/

WPA Template: https://www.bitsnblobs.com/wp-content/media/fw/diy/e17/wpa_supplicant.conf

Step 3: Connect the Camera & Power On

Insert the microSD card into the board and also connect the camera to the board. Keep in mind that the connector tabs are fragile, so be careful when connecting the camera. Once done, power on the system.

The board will take about 2-3 minutes to set everything up the first time it is powered ON so do not disconnect the power during this time or else you may have to start over from the beginning by re-flashing the image. We need the board IP address in order to move to the next step. The IP address will be displayed on the screen but if you have not connected a display then you can obtain this using either of the following options:

You can log into your router and check the client list

You can also use an IP scanner like Angry IP scanner (https://angryip.org/).

Download and install IP scanner. You will also need to install Java and there is a link on the download page to help you with this. Once done, open up Angry IP scanner and hit the start button. Give it a while to scan your network and if the board is on the network then you will be able to identify it by its device name which should start with meye-*. Make a note of the IP address.

Step 4: Accessing MotionEye OS

Type in the IP address into a web-browser to access the motionEye OS. Please watch the video to get an overview of all the features and settings as it would not make sense to describe it all through text.

If the board does not show up on your network then you can follow the troubleshooting steps listed in the image.

Step 5: Verdict & Moving On

The motionEye OS is a very interesting piece of software that allows for a lot of flexibility, but it probably needs much more powerful hardware for it to run as intended. I will try building a surveillance system by using several Raspberry Pi Zero based IP cameras that provide a video stream using RTSP. These will be controlled by a central Raspberry PI Zero or an old computer. Since the Pi zero will only be doing that, it should be able to stream at a much higher resolution and frame rate compared to today’s tests. Do consider subscribing to follow along as your support helps greatly in creating projects like this.

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Thanks for reading!

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