The tiny Linux computer gets tools to shoot full HD video
The Raspberry Pi Foundation, the non-profit responsible for designing the world’s favourite bite-sized Linux computer, has announced the general availability of the first official Raspberry Pi camera board.
The add-on features a 5 megapixel sensor and supports still photography and full HD video recording.
It can be ordered from RS Components or element14 for around £17, the latter hosting a special photography competition, giving entrants the chance to win a supply of new Raspberry Pi accessories throughout the remainder of the year.
Here at TechWeekEurope we are running a competition in partnership with RS Components, for the best original office gadget design, which could feature a Raspberry Pi and its new camera. The winner will get £250 worth of electrical components to bring their creation to life. You can enter here.
Raspberry Pi is a basic computer that connects to a TV or monitor via coaxial aerial plug or HDMI. It can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, including office work, Internet browsing and high-definition video playback – all possible through a circuit board not much bigger than a credit card.
The device was originally designed to get children interested in programming. It has already sold around a million units and amassed an enthusiastic following worldwide.
The camera board is made in Wales, at the Sony Pencoed plant which also manufactures some of the Raspberry Pi units. It was previously promised by April, but the Foundation needed extra time to make sure both the software and hardware were up to scratch.
The camera is essentially a tiny board with a sensor on a flexible 15mm cable that plugs directly into a CSi interface socket. It measures 25mm x 20mm x 9mm and uses the OmniVision CMOS image platform that automatically reduces or eliminates common sources of picture contamination, such as fixed pattern noise and smearing.
The add-on is capable of taking pictures and recording HD video at 15 to 60 frames per second with automatic control of exposure and white balance.
Before using the camera, DIY enthusiasts will need to upgrade Raspberry Pi firmware to access two new command line applications – ‘raspivid’ and ‘raspistill’, which can be set up to take pictures or shoot video of a certain length at certain times.
Users can stream the resulting video over a network, use it for security and VoIP projects, as a light sensor or baby monitor.
“For such a small device, this has been an enormous project, and a year-long effort for everybody involved. We’re pretty proud of it: we hope you like it!” said Eben Upton, founder and trustee of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, on its blog.
A different camera module was tested by the Foundation as early as May, but it didn’t go on sale due to the large size and high cost of the 14MP sensor.
You can see how to set up the camera board in the video below:
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