If you are looking for a cheap camera surveillance setup, the Raspberry Pi is a great solution.
It is small, easy to install and, most important, has low energy usage.
There are several open source motion detection applications for Linux such as ZoneMinder and Motion.
Both programs are available through the Rasbian repository.
ZoneMinder looks like a real security control center with all those nice cam screens, but it’s too bloated and too CPU heavy for the Raspberry Pi.
Motion is more lightweight and doesn’t stress the CPU too much when processing 320×200 camera data.
With 2 IP camera’s my average load is less than 0.50 on my RasPi, which also serves as an caching DNS server. For storage of the AVI video files which contain the captured motion frames, I use a free Box.com account.
Box.com provides the same service as the popular Dropbox.
The reason for choosing Box.com is because Dropbox has no open source client.
The Dropbox Linux client is closed source and has, at the moment, no support for ARM devices like the Raspberry Pi.
Furthermore the free Box.com account gives you 10 GB of free storage. Way enough to store home camera data for a couple of months.
BoxFS2 is the weapon of choice to mount your Box.com account as a drive partition on your Raspberry Pi.
Some basic Linux knowledge is preferred.
Step 1: Setting Up BoxFS2
First, read the README file on the BoxFS2 site carefully for the needed dependencies
Install the needed libraries from the command prompt:
sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev libfuse-dev libcurl4-gnutls-dev
Besides some libraries from the Raspbian repository, you’ll also need libapp and libjson.
Get the latest commits from boxfs2, libapp and libjson:
Compile libapp first, then libjson and boxfs2 last using make and sudo make install.
After installing make sure you run the command ldconfig to update links to the libraries for the operating system.
Forgetting this might give you some error messages about not found libraries.
The BoxFS2 binary will be installed in /usr/local/bin.
Step 2: Creating a BoxFS2 Config File
With the command boxfs-init you can create a config file for BoxFS2.
The configuration file will be placed in the directory .boxfs2.
Open an editor and the configuration file would look something like this:
# Conf file for boxfs# edit to fit your needs.
# Put oauth2 tokens here:token_file = /home/pi/.boxfs/token
# Set a valid mount point
mountpoint = /home/pi/box.com
verbose = no
largefiles = no
# Configure the cache
cache_dir = /home/pi/.boxfs/
cacheexpire_time = 1440
# Configure your uid and gid below:
uid = 1000
gid = 1000
fperm = 644
dperm = 755
The mountpoint must be provided in either way.
This can be an empty directory called /motion for example.
Also check the user id (uid) and the group id (gid) of the user you are using.
You can check this in the passwd file which is located in /etc.
In my case I’m using user pi which has user id 1000 and group id 1000.
To let Boxfs2 run as a non-root user you have to add your user to the fuse group:
sudo gpasswd -a fuse
If you won’t do this, the following error message will be shown:
fuse: failed to open /dev/fuse: Permission denied
Also the execute bit of the fusermount binary should be set:
sudo chmod +x /bin/fusermount
Forgetting this will cause mounting to fail with this error message:
fuse: failed to exec fusermount: Permission denied
Step 3: Mounting Your Box.com Account Using BoxFS
To start the BoxFS2 client, simply run this command from the home directory of your Box.com user:
boxfs -f .boxfs/boxfs.cfg
The first time you run boxfs, you will need to complete the authentication (oauth2) process and grant access to your box.com account.
It’s easy, just follow the instructions on the terminal and on your browser.
When the mount is successful, set the right permissions with the command chmod -r 755 .
To check if everything is doing what it should be doing, go to your BoxFS mount point and try to create or copy some files.
For debugging I recommend to be logged in to your Box.com account with your browser to see if things are actually written in to the cloud storage.
Step 4: Installing and Configuring Motion
To install Motion just run this command:
sudo apt-get install motion
Be sure that your camera’s and/or webcams output a 320×200 (or 240) image and Motion is configured with the same resolution.
I’ve tried a resolution like 640×400 pixels, but the CPU load went sky high on the RasPi, so I’ve settled for a lower resolution.
The images generated by my camera’s are quite clear and useful, so I’m happy.
I have no experience overclocking the Pi in combination with Motion, but if you do, please share your findings in the comments.
Same goes for solving the above resolution problem.
Further configuring Motion is something you have to do on your own.
The online manual is quite clear about the numerous settings which can be done.
Mailing an image snapshot or a simple message when motion is detected is just one of the many possibilities.
Oh, and don’t forget to set the path to your BoxFS2 mount point to store your videos.
When you’ve got an mobile device, you can use the Box.com app to download an AVI file and watch it using a movie player which supports the file format.
Great when you’re on holiday for example, and want to know what’s going on at home.
And all of this without tampering your firewall, keeping your home network closed and secure.
I hope this post helps you to set up your own budget camera surveillance system.
For less than 180 euro (that’s 2 decent IP camera’s and a RasPi) you’re all set to go.