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Put a time lapse gif image in your Node Red dashboard to watch your plants grow
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Put a time lapse gif image in your Node Red dashboard to watch your plants grow

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Screenshot: alt text

Nodes: alt text

This works with a Raspberry Pi camera. We will be using the raspistill command to take pictures every few minutes. Then, each day, or when ever you want, a gif will be created with ffmpeg.

Node Red Setup

Node Red is already installed on your Pi but we need to update it. Here is the official Node Red page for updating your Pi:

To use their recomended method, issue this command in you Pi terminal:

bash <(curl -sL

We also need Dashboard for Node Red. You can install it via the Palette Manager in Node Red, alt text

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or cd to your /.node-red/ directory and issue:

npm install node-red-dashboard

Static Files

We need to edit settings.js to allow static files like pictures to be served from your pi. I like to edit files on the pi with Geany. Right click the file on your pi and select Geany. alt text

We need to uncomment the static file entry and correct the path. alt text

These static directories do not exist yet. So in /.node-red/ make a new directory named 'static'. Then in side /static/ make 'seq', 'img', and 'gif' directories. Inside the gif directory, make and 'old' directory for old gif files to be stored. Here is a one-liner that will make all of these directories (only use this for the usual .node-red location on your Pi):

mkdir -p /home/pi/.node-red/static/gif/old; mkdir /home/pi/.node-red/static/img; mkdir /home/pi/.node-red/static/seq

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If you want Node Red to run automaticlly at boot, issue:

sudo systemctl enable nodered.service

You can run node-red-start or reboot to verify it is running at boot.

Now point your browser to localhost:1880 or from another computer on your network, enter the pi's IP address. For example: And for the Dashboard user interface Varify you have the Dashboard nodes: alt text

From your node view, you can now import a flow. In the node-red directory of this repo, there is a file called flows_nodered.json. You can copy the code from this file and import it into Node Red from the menu > Import > Clipboard and paste it in.

Bash Scripts

There is a bash scripts that needs to be placed into your /.node-red/ directory. You will need As always, read a script carufully before executing it. This one is fairly simple and well commented. If you are using the usual path of /home/pi/.node-red/ then no changes need to be made. But if you have Node Red installed at a different location, you will need to adjust the file paths in the script, exec nodes and template nodes. Here is a command that will download the bash file and make it executable:

cd /home/pi/.node-red; wget; chmod +x


ffmpeg is a useful program for converting one video format to another. Also images to video and video to animated gif, which is what we will do. Install it with: sudo apt-get install ffmpeg

When you read the, you will see how this program builds gifs from a sequence of images.


Of course you will need your Pi set up with the camera working. You can test your camera with: raspistill -o /home/pi/Desktop/picture.jpg This should take a picture and output it to your Pi Desktop.

If you are using a USB cam, raspistill will not work. You can use a program called Motion to take USB cam pictures at a set interval and save them to the correct dierctory. The Node Red flow would need to be modified but the bash script could stay the same.

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