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Category: Raspberry Pi (page 1 of 1)

RPi | DIY Dashcam

I’m waiting on a TFT Touchscreen to come in for my kaliPi project, so I’m tinkering with my Raspberry Pi Zero W today. I have been wanting a dashcam for a while now, primarily due to the snowbird season incoming. I have seen other dashcams on Amazon but they all come with some less than stellar interfaces, so I figured I’d make my own.

This will be a headless and automated dashcam, meaning it will be powered on and record until shutdown. My first iteration of it will be a video only recording, until I can figure out a way to easily toggle the microphone for when I’m on the phone with clients.

The Parts List:

Note: I chose to go with the CanaKit Basics due to it including the standard Pi to Zero Camera cable. The basic kit also has a lid that perfectly fits the camera module for a compact solution.

The goal:

The primary focus is for the Pi to act as a dashcam, recording from the time it’s powered on until it’s turned off. My secondary goal is to incorporate GPS and acceleration logging as well. I enjoy visualizing data and it’d be cool to have those metrics. If there is enough processing room after those two goals, I may tack on a wardriving component. It would be one less device I need to carry around with me if I can fit that onto my dashcam.

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I bought some Pi, Raspberry!

I’ve finally been bit by the bug. I purchased a CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3B Complete Starter Kit, I had thought I’d beat the system by purchasing everything separately. It turned out that it’s roughly the same price, give or take a sale. I opted for the kit for convenience mainly and it ended up having a nice printout of the GPIO and a quick start guide.

If this is your first Pi, I’d highly recommend a kit of some form. The kit included the black case, a micro-SD reader, a micro-SD card, 2.5A power supply, some heatsinks and naturally the Pi.

After purchasing it I realized I needed a project for it. Since I drive a lot for my job, I thought it’d be cool to start with GPS tracking. My thought being I could somehow make graphs and analyze my patterns, for science obviously. If I would be mapping GPS, why not add mapping wifi networks as well.

I’ve used Kali extensively in the past and knew I have seen touchscreen Pi projects with it. I decided to use KaliPi image for my first project, if you made the same mistake I have a few scripts and guides I’ve made along the line that I’ll tag with #kaliPi.  Since I was going with Kali, I knew I could get a Panda USB card to keep my Pi a compact project.

I had never worked with direct GPS devices before but I had the opportunity to buy a GPS HAT during a sale, but I opted for a USB GPS adapter instead. If for some reason I needed GPS on a computer or another Pi, I’d like the option to move it around.

I have been told there is a bit more jitter using a USB but that is only critical in an NTP source. I was willing to accept a slight degree of inaccuracy as long as it was still on the road somewhere. It’s surprisingly accurate, even at high speeds. The model I purchased has a magnet on the underside and it sticks to my dash. The only issue is when I’m between large buildings or a large concentration of trees.

The last piece of the puzzle was power. I know Raspberry Pi has an acceptable tolerance in deviation on their parts, so I wanted to see what MY Pi drew in terms of power. I bought a USB volt meter with tracking so I could take data points every 15 minutes and have it keep a running total overall.

After running the Pi in idle, wardriving, and GPS only modes I learned I needed about 8.7Ah of battery for 12 hour operation. On a random Amazon lightning deal I got a solar panel battery pack combo with 10Ah storage. The solar only outputs 3.5W @ 5V at full light but it’s enough to push my total runtime to around 16 hours.

I’m intending on posting weekly about my projects, primarily my reconPi project. I’m also interested in building my own z-wave controller for some basic home automation, keep an eye out for those posts as well.