If you are like me you have a set of things that stay in the office all the time. For example, tape dispenser, scissors, whiteboard makers, etc. These items have a do-not-leave-the-office rule so that you can find them during when hours when needed. However, you find yourself in need of knowing who keeps taking the office-only items out of the office. In my case I’d be in a phone call (often conference) with a customer and need to jot something down on the whiteboard and all 10 dry-erase pens would be missing. Nothing like trying to be a professional and you have to excuse yourself to go ask your kids where something is! As a workaround, I do hide one marker, but still I want to know who keeps breaking the keep-it-in-the-office rule! Well thanks to Linux, a Raspberry Pi, and a webcam, we can create our own customization security camera for the home office.
We have two main choices here: we can use our own Linux install and install the components we need or we can use a purpose-built distribution. I have tried both and they each have their own pros and cons. Currently I am using a purpose-built distribution called https://github.com/ccrisan/motioneyeos (meyeos). meyeos is Debian-based (Raspian) Linux distribution that uses Motion for the back-end and motionEye for the front-end, providing a easy to use web interface with lots of configuration options.
The first step is to download meyeos onto your Linux workstation. Once downloaded, you can use the included writeimage.sh to install onto your microsd card. Example usage:
# ./writeimage.sh -d /dev/mmcblk0 -i “<path to uncompressed img file>”
The first boot takes a few minutes (I think about 4 on a B) depending on how fast your device is. After it is up and running you can access it via your web browser of choice by going to meye-XXXX, where the Xs represent the digits of your Raspberry Pis serial number which are printed on the board. If you don’t know what the serial number is because you already put your Pi in a case, you can look for the IP in your router’s DHCP logs.
Configuration is very simple and there are little “i” icons next to things that may not be obvious that include further information. I have mine setup to upload to a dropbox location so that I can access the images from anywhere. There are lots of things that can be configured and tweaked including overclocking. I tend to prefer motion activated still images over videos and so I have mine configured to favor that.
Once you are up and running you should be able to view a live feed of the camera and depending on your configuration you may be able to see images being added to your dropbox directory.
Now we put our security camera in a location that gives the best view of the office. For me that location is in the corner of the room facing my desk on the same wall as the door. Now we tell everyone of the new camera and wait a few days until something goes missing. As soon as it does, we can check the upload folder for our photo evidence to identify the culprit!