How to setup

A remote live camera

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Author: SuperGreenLab

I’m not teaching you anything if I tell you that our plants are like our babies. And just like babies we’d like to keep an eye on them 24/24, even when away from home.
While you shouldn’t overprotect an actual kid, it’s bad for their self confidence, and makes fucked up teenagers; When it comes to plants, having a way to look at it anytime can save you some issues.

The camera we will be setting up is quite simple, it allows you to select the plant you’re monitoring, and will then take a picture every 10 minutes.

Setting up this remote camera will give you two things:

  • You’ll have access to the latest taken pic from the app, at any time, from anywhere.
  • Daily and weekly timelapses posted to your plant diary.

What you'll need

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Rasppberry PI night camera with wide angle and night vision BY Generic component manufacturer

From Pishop

Best way to have a nice plant is to keep an eye on it!

Probably the most effective way to spot issues before they arise. checkout our guide "How to setup a

US$34.95

*price may vary incl. tax
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Raspberry PI zero W BY Raspberry PI Foundation

From Kubii

All purpose tiny computer, great to do timelapses and remote live cam.

As of now the best all purpose micro computer. You won't use it as a desktop (it has usb and hdmi po

€10.44

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Plants are moving creatures

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Plants are moving creatures

Having a still live picture is cool, but one thing we tend to ignore for obvious reasons, is the plant's movements. Plants actually move a lot during the day and night, it's too slow for us to notice, but becomes very clear once at high speed.
So that's the point of this, take a pic every 10 minutes, then compile all those pics into videos, daily and weekly.
One of the things with movements, is they can allow you to spot something wrong before it shows up.

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Normal plant movement

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Normal plant movement

For example, let’s have a look at this plant, you can see how the leaves tend to have a “breathing” motion.
We’ll see in the next frames how it goes when it is thirsty.

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Unhappy plants don’t move anymore

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Unhappy plants don’t move anymore

Now here’s a sad plant. The problem here is that it’s getting thirsty. This appears quite clearly because there are no more breathing motions. And the leaves will tend to go downward.

Other issues can be spotted too, lack of nutrient stops all movements for example.

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Plant recovery after watering

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Plant recovery after watering

Now look how it looks after being watered:)

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Detecting watering issues in advance

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Detecting watering issues in advance

Another fun thing to notice on timelapses that could avoid watering issues, is the soil color. It’s color turns lighter as the soil gets dryer.
Usually the soil color suddenly turns lighter, that means the plant will start suffering from lack of water a few hours later.
All this to say, you should definitely have a live cam with daily timelapse video generation in your grow box.

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Required hardware

Done
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Author: SuperGreenLab

Required hardware

Done

Alright let’s get into it, the first step is to get the right hardware.
The live camera is mostly composed of two components, on one side a tiny computer called a Raspberry PI, and a camera with wide angle.
The one we recommend is the PI zero W, and a camera with wide angle and infrared lighting for night shots (plants move a lot during the night too).

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What you'll need

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Raspberry PI zero W BY Raspberry PI Foundation

From Kubii

All purpose tiny computer, great to do timelapses and remote live cam.

As of now the best all purpose micro computer. You won't use it as a desktop (it has usb and hdmi po

€10.44

*price may vary incl. tax
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16Go Sandisk SD Card BY Sandisk

From amazon.de

Way enough for running a raspberry pi with a bit of local storage for pics.

16Go sd card, can be used for any purpose, but in our case it can be used for the remote live camera

€5.99

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Setting up the raspberry pi

Done
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Author: SuperGreenLab

Setting up the raspberry pi

Done

The raspberry pi setup will be our first step, because it takes some steps, we’ll move that to a separate guide that you can find under here.

It is recommended to have the camera already attached to the PI at that step, it won’t be able to use it if not plugged on boot.

Checkout this guide
How to setup a raspberry pi

In this tutorial we’ll see how to set up a raspberry PI from scratch.

We’ll be using the raspberry pi for things like setting up a live cam.

This guide will work with any raspberry PI models, but we’ll be using a raspberry PI model zero w.

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Enable the camera

Done
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Enable the camera

Done

Alright we now have our raspberry PI setup, and if you followed the guide linked previously you should be connected to it through ssh.

In the terminal window, type
sudo raspi-config
that will open a new menu, navigate to the Interface Options, then Camera, and then select Yes to enable the camera.

We’ll then have to reboot the raspberry PI to enable the camera.
Type sudo reboot to do so.

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Install the live cam software

Done
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Install the live cam software

Done

Aaaaaaand we’re now ready to install the SuperGreenLive2 software that will turn our useless raspberry PI into an awesome companion for our grow diary app.

Re-connect to the raspberry PI with putty if not already.

Let’s do a quick test to make sure the connection to the camera is right.

Type:

raspistill -o cam.jpg

Then type:

ls cam.jpg

No error should be displayed by any of those commands.

Now to the installation of SuperGreenLive, copy/paste:

curl -sL https://github.com/supergreenlab/SuperGreenLive2/releases/download/latest/install.sh | sudo bash

This will go on for a little while, and you shouldn’t have anything to do but wait. Get yourself a large glass of water to stay hydrated.

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Moving inside the box

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Moving inside the box

Alright we’re now done with the software installation, let’s set up our raspberry PI + camera inside the box.

You can craft something with pieces of cardboard and some hot glue, but for this tutorial we’ll use the small camera holder we’ve designed, you can either download the stl files for free and print it yourself, or buy our pre-printed parts here (Coming soon)

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Assembling the camera holder

Done
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Assembling the camera holder

Done

We made a dedicated guide for this step, please check it out:

Checkout this guide
Assembly manual - camera holder

While it’s nice to have a raspberry pi with a camera to have a live view of our plant 24/24. It might be challenging to install the camera and raspberry pi inside the box.
You can easily inadvertently end up with the pi hanging by the camera cable, which stops the live view:/

For this we’ve designed this camera holder.

It can be placed on a wall or a corner. And you can choose the angle of the camera. All this without needing any screws!

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Start a plant timelapse !

Done
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Start a plant timelapse !

Done

Alright we now have our camera in place, let’s start a timelapse!

Power the raspberry pi, let it work for about 90s to fully start, then with your browser, go to:

http://raspberrypi.local:8081

That will open the live cam setup graphic interface for easier setup.

Start by logging into your sgl account, if you don’t have one yet please create one with the SGL app at https://www.supergreenlab.com/app

Useful links Got a feedback/suggestion? click here

Plant selection screen

Done
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Plant selection screen

Done

Once logged in you will be presented with the plants you have already created, if you don’t have any yet, head to the app to create one now, then refresh the page.

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Adjust camera focus and orientation

Done
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Adjust camera focus and orientation

Done

This screen allows to setup the camera focus and orientation.

The focus can be tuned by turning the camera’s lens, turn it just a few degrees then monitor the live view, you will notice there might be a few seconds of lag, so let the picture stabilize before turning more.

If the picture has the wrong orientation (ie upside down), use the button under the liveview to reorient it.

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Monitoring screen

Done
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Monitoring screen

Done

And we’re now on the final screen, this screen just shows which plant is on the timelapse and captures a frame from the camera.

There are four buttons at the top:

  • Skip night: Uncheck it to enable liveview, only useful if you have a camera with night vision.
  • Live cam: Shows the live view screen again.
  • Download: Downloads the pics for the last 24h.
  • Reset: Allows to start another timelapse with the same setup.
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Live view in the app

Done
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Live view in the app

Done

Now the live server is set up and running, it will take a pic every 10 minutes and save it on the server.

You can have a look at the latest pic from the app, go to your plant, tap the eye icon at the top right corner.
If there is no pic yet you might need to wait a few more minutes.

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Daily/weekly timelapse

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Daily/weekly timelapse

And now the app will generate a time-lapse every 24 hours and every end of week!
This way you can have a quick glance at how the plant behaved the previous day.

As a reminder:

  • healthy plants have a breathing motion during the day, and some sort of twisting motion when the night falls.
  • Thirsty plants will only have downward motion, no more breathing. That usually means you still have a few hours before it becomes critical.
  • Lack of nutrient (and probably other issues) will stop any motion, the time-lapse shows the plant totally still, that means it will maybe start showing signs of deficiencies few days later.

We are still learning what are all visible symptoms on time-lapses, let us know if you spot something interesting. Spoiler: we'll then try to work on image processing and AI to detect issues automatically.

Enjoy your daily and weekly timelapses:)

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