Raspberry Pi Time-lapse – in the field!

Finding myself shivering in a field I wondered what else this credit card sized computer would be responsible for.


I was testing my new time-lapse setup with Raspberry Pi, a camera and PiFace Control and Display. When I do talks to teachers about why they should use a Raspberry Pi I point out you can put it in places you couldn’t put a PC, and I was certainly following my own words as I trekked up a hill overlooking Manchester. I’d previously tried pre-programming a Raspberry Pi that I could leave on a hillside to take pictures, but found I needed to change settings in the field. Taking a keyboard and monitor out with me was impractical, and sometimes it was hard to know if the Pi had started taking pictures.

Youtube compression isn’t great and doesn’t do justice to how reasonable the Raspberry Pi camera is.

Using PiFace Control and Display I could easily set the time between pictures and how long the time-lapse should cover. This is useful as often before I start taking a time-lapse I don’t know how much I want to speed the action up by, or how long to keep taking pictures for until I’m ready to start taking them. The display shows when the camera has started and how much room there is left on the SD card. It makes it really easy to take time-laspse with the Raspberry Pi. So much so I think I’m addicted!

The software is really easy to install – just type

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install python3-snap-camera

There’s a quick video walking though setting it up from scratch and showing another time-lapse in the city centre.

It’s opensource and available on github, so hopefully between us and the community we’ll get more settings for the camera added. We’re also wondering about re-writing it to use Dave Jones’ python libraries for the Raspberry Pi Camera, or adding features like scheduling the time-lapse to start at a particular time.

For more info on things to do with PiFace visit our guides http://www.piface.org.uk/guides


Win a signed copy of the book Raspberry Pi Projects with PiFace Control and Display

Enter our PiFace Control and Display Advent competition to win a signed copy of the new book, Raspberry Pi Projects.

We want you to create an application with PiFace Control and Display that counts down until Christmas (or any other day you prefer). It couldn’t be easier to get started – we’ve posted some sample code https://gist.github.com/thomasmacpherson/7684150  that you’re free to edit and remix. Once you’ve made your project, post a picture/video/link on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/raspberryPiFace  and upload the code onto github.

Even if you’re new to coding and don’t feel ready to add complicated features, you can still enter by editing the festive graphics (they’re stored as bitmaps of 1s and 0s at the top of the program).

You might want to make your calendar interactive – revealing an icon of the day, or perhaps add sound effects. You could pull in data from the Internet, such as incorporating a Santa tracker showing how far away he is from, or showing the chances of a white Christmas with weather data.

Useful chunks of sample code are available in the guides http://www.piface.org.uk/guides/  section of the website.

Raspberry Pi Projects Book

The most creative and innovative entries will win a signed copy of the new book, Raspberry Pi Projects. We’ll also consider when you entered – so get your idea in early to be the first. Don’t forget if you can’t wait until after Christmas to get the book, you can also order it from Amazon!


Entries must be posted on Facebook page by 2359 GMT 24th Dec. Entries will be judged on creativity, innovation, fun and technical execution. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. All entries must be your own work. Winners will be contacted by Facebook message and prizes will be sent by post as soon as possible after the closing date. Winning entries will be featured across social media sites.

A new Arrival in the PiFace Family

Those of you who are friends of PiFace on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/raspberryPiFace will have learned yesterday about PiFace Control and Display.

The result of about 10 months work, it’s a very easy to use LCD screen with buttons for the Raspberry Pi. The idea for it came from wanting to get more people using Raspberry Pis. The small size and low cost of a Raspberry Pi mean that you can put it where you wouldn’t put a normal PC. In my case, I’d been using it to monitor wildlife in a remote part of Wales. Although the Pi is credit card sized and low powered,  monitors and keyboard aren’t.

PiFace Control and Display was designed to show the status of a Raspberry Pi without having it plugged into a monitor. It also has buttons that can be used to drive a menu so it is possible to interact with it.

I’d had the moment of inspiration when I wanted to build an Internet radio with the Pi to listen to. Obviously I didn’t want a big screen and keyboard so I came up with Control and Display. To make it even easier to control I added an infra-red receiver so I could change station from across the room!

Element14 interviewed me about it here:

I realised that there’s a whole raft of applications that need a way of controlling a Raspberry Pi and showing a brief status on the screen, and it was a great way to encourage youngsters.

As such, it was key to make it as easy to install as possible, and easy to program in Python. It’s one line to install, and two lines of Python code to print a message to the screen.

I’ll post over the next week more details.