arduino and color still/video cameras

I am just starting out with a new project. I am considering using the Arduino.

What I want to do is make a remote-sensing camera system. Here is the basic overview of what I want to create:

  • Video or still camera (color, 2-4 megapixels resolution, etc).
  • memory card/flash stick for storage
  • motion detector to trigger camera
  • switch to turn on/off an external light
  • wireless (bluetooth perhaps) to download video from memory card to laptop computer (future plan to network many of these together)

Then for the system, I would like to have control over how long the video records, the light comes on only at night, how sensitive the motion sensor is and perhaps some other aspects as well.

So to start, I was just trying to understand how I hook up a camera and transfer frames or images to a memory card.

Can anyone suggest how I should get started with this? Is it easy to capture digital video to a memory card using the Arduino and some kind of external camera? Is it possible to connect a video camera or a still camera to an Arduio? I have seen miniature cameras on circuit boards on the Sparkfun site, but I am not sure what is involved with actually capturing video onto a memory card.

I am good with software, but I am not so good with hardware. This will be a learning experience for sure!

I think this is not possible with arduino. The nearest solution would be to buy come of those USB stick cameras and just use arduino to read motion sensor and turn on camera+snap images, but will not be able to transfer them to PC in any way. I you need all those abilities, it would be better to buy S60 series phone and interface its camera + bluetooth or GPRS transfer. Anyway it will not be easy.

I you need all those abilities, it would be better to buy S60 series phone and interface its camera + bluetooth or GPRS transfer. Anyway it will not be easy.

This is exactly what I'm planning to do. Which parts of interfacing with the S60 will not be easy? (I'm a novice as well)

This is a pretty complex project, but you're definitely handling it the right way in my opinion - by breaking it down into smaller pieces and handling one at a time. You do seem to be reinventing the wheel here since there are plenty of cheap devices available that will handle this sort of thing. But, there's nothing like doing it yourself and learning from the process!

The motion detection and light portion is easy and can definitely be handled by an Arduino with the use of other hardware. Namely a PIR detector (the same they use in security/alarm systems would be best - these are mostly 12V, keep that in mind for your power supply) and a combination of transistor and a relay to control the light. You'll need the transistor to drive a decent relay if you want to control the power for a light (like a halogen/incandescent/fluorescent) with high amp draw, if not, you could drive some IR LEDs/LED's just with a transistor.

The video/still camera is definitely interesting. I've wondered the same thing.

One very basic (and dirty) method would be to have an SD card 'shared' between the two devices (or an MMC, whatever works for both). The camera could write to the card until you tell the Arduino to power down the camera. You could then switch the power and the IO of the SD card to the Arduino, so you could read/delete the files. You should be able to retrieve the files over Serial/Ethernet/Bluteooth(?) but I wouldn't be surprised if you'd need to write your own client software to repackage the data into jpgs. I have no experience there so you'd need to do some research on the IO operations you can perform with an SD card, with the intention of accessing the files on the computer.

I think this would be very cumbersome and very slow. It could take hours to download the photos over serial with such a slow baud rate...puke!

Is your intention to get some high definition photos (bird watching?) of detected motion or to make your own security camera? Cos for the first, it'd probably be nice. For the second, it'd be way to slow and cumbersome.

Good luck!

I've got a similar project, and I was intrigued by Scootabugs solution:

One very basic (and dirty) method would be to have an SD card 'shared' between the two devices (or an MMC, whatever works for both).

In my project I would like to take several pictures (ala: Matrix cam) all at nearly the same time. I would like to have them all stored on the same media.

Do you really think its possible to do that? Ie: use the Arduino to share multiple devices on the same SD card?