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Software for a Raspberry Pi Zero W motorcycle helmet camera

Necessary Hardware

  • Raspberry Pi
    • Zero/Zero Wireless ideally
  • Raspberry Pi camera
    • an offical Raspberry Pi camera is a safe bet
    • with correct ribbon cable (Zero cable is different than full sized Pi's, also should get at least 6" long)
  • MicroSD card
    • get one of the 'high endurance' ones since this will be writing HD video constantly
  • Battery
    • Simplest solution is a smartphone external battery pack with a microUSB cable, and just keep it in your jacket
  • Camera housing/mounting
    • I made mine out of plexiglass, superglue, and electrical tape for waterproofing with a dremel
    • Electrical tape or double sided adhesive pads for mounting camera+Pi to the helmet
  • You might also need for setup/troubleshooting
    • Monitor/TV
    • USB keyboard
    • Adapter for mini HDMI -> HDMI or whatever your monitor/TV takes
    • Adapter for microUSB -> USB for a keyboard so you can set up Raspbian

Setup Instructions

Set up Raspberry Pi, camera, and mounting

Found in the main Google Doc for this project:

cronjob for recording on boot up:

(run sudo crontab -e and add this line to the bottom)

@reboot sh /home/pi/pi-helmet-cam/ >/home/pi/pi-helmet-cam/cronlog 2>&1
  • NOTE: depending on what your username is/where you put this repo you may need to change the path
  • If you're running into problems starting the script on boot, check ./cronlog.


  • Python script that begins recording video in chunks when started using picamera Python module
  • Use -d or --debug to see video preview and debug print statements


  • the Python script will create a video directory to store videos in
  • each video will have its own directory, the name being a current timestamp
  • inside this, there will be (up to) ~45 min videos with the form 001.h264
    • after the video gets large enough, a new one will be created in the same directory with an incremented filename
    • the video should write to disk every 5 seconds, so in case of power loss, at most that much of the video will be lost

  • clears out old videos if we need the space
  • then starts recording
  • crontab runs this on startup

  • helpful script to just clean out old video from the video directory

  • kill all running python processes, quick way to stop the script if running in background


  • where logs from starting the script on boot with cronjob will go


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