Friday, February 15, 2013

Quick video security setup via the RPi.

Watching what is going on in your own home or even at your business is becoming more and more of a requirement for peace of mind. Schools even use them to prevent and or document cheating.  Had to set up the web cams in the testing center where I use to work just to do that. You probably do not want to spend a lot of money at first. If you have a Raspberry Pi ($35 us), Memory card ($10 us) to install Debian linux,  and a cheap web cam (under $15 us), you can set up your own system very quickly.  For more information see: and

It is wonderful that the Raspberry Pi (aka RPi) is supported by Debian linux. There already so much software for Debian that the Raspberry Pi can take advantage of. One such piece of software is Motion. Motion is a security cam server software than does not require a gui, That is you can run Motion without a gui installed or activated on the Raspberry Pi.

Let's get your system up to date (might take a while if you have not updated very recently).

$ sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get upgrade
$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Now let's install Motion

$ sudo apt-get install motion.

Does the RPi see your camera?  (aka list usb devices attached.)

$ lsusb

Bus 001 Device 004: ID 046d:08a9 Logitech, Inc. Notebook Deluxe

if not, you may need to get a more mainstream camera. usually Logitech sets the standard. I just used a cheap refurbished knockoff. Your output will vary..

Do a little configuration:

$ sudo nano /etc/motion/motion.conf
In here there are a few basic changes that you need to perform:
  • Daemon = OFF to ON
  • webcam_localhost = ON to OFF
You can change other settings but it’s recommend you don’t take more than 2 frames, and you been the default frame pixel size, for stability.

To ensure that the motion service will actually start as a daemon we need to change another configuration setting, so enter the following:

sudo nano /etc/default/motion

Then change the value “start_motion_daemon=no” to “yes”

Let's get started:

Finally you can start the motion service to stream the web cam images

sudo service motion start

Then after about 30 seconds browse to the new web interface, which should be at the below URL (where is your Raspberry PI’s IP address yours may vary)

Hint: if you do not have direct access to your RPi, you can use to find it on the network Frequently I will hook up the RPi to the network without a keyboard, mouse, or monitor and then remote into the unit,


Note: Most any linux box will allow you to set this up. I have it running on an Ubuntu x86 based server. So an old pc might work just fine without getting the Raspberry Pi.


If you want to use an ipcamera it is easy but you have to know about the camera. I ended up going to the zoneminder wiki and found the answer for my camera. Setup is the same, but you have to add two lines to motion.conf.

 netcam_userpass user:password

For us  it was:

 netcam_userpass user:password

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