SwitchDoc Labs' ESP32-Based SkyCam Puts Wireless Weather Cameras in Your Home or Garden

Built around an ESP32 camera and designed to report to a Raspberry Pi or compatible over MQTT, the SkyCam is the latest WeatherSense device.

Educational IoT specialist SwitchDoc Labs is back on the crowdfunding circuit in an effort to launch an Espressif ESP32-driven solar-powered wireless weather camera accessory for the Raspberry Pi.

"SkyCam can be used stand-alone supplying data to your Raspberry Pi. or you can connect with the SkyWeather2 weather station to get even more local environmental information," SwitchDoc Labs' John Shovic explains of his latest creation. "You can even have multiple Solar SkyCams running on the same network!"

The Solar SkyCam is the latest in the ever-growing WeatherSense family of environmental sensors, following the launch of the earthquake-monitoring AfterShock earlier this year.

The WeatherSense platform grows bigger with the SkyCam, an ESP32-based weather camera. (πŸ“Ή: SwitchDoc Labs)

"The Solar Wireless SkyCam is a solar powered remote controlled low power ESP32 based camera that you build and can modify yourself," Shovic explains. "The ESP32 wakes up every minute (programmable) and takes a picture. It then transmits the picture to the Raspberry Pi using an MQTT reliable data connection in pieces (chunks!) that are reassembled and checked as the full picture."

"The ESP32 then throttles down the CPU and goes to sleep until the next picture to save power. Meanwhile, the SunAirPlus3 board is monitoring the solar panel and battery to keep things up and charged safely for your LiPo battery. The Raspberry Pi then takes the picture and puts it in a MySQL database for later use and then records all the glorious data from the Solar Power system on SkyCam for later analysis and graphing."

The kit, which can be put together without soldering, includes a SunAirPlus3 solar controller board with a 330mA 6V solar panel, an ESP32-based OV2640 smart camera, a Grove-to-ESP32 adapter board, a USB-to-serial board, an HDC1080 temperature and humidity sensor, an external Wi-Fi antenna, and all the cables required to put everything together. A case for the system is provided as 3D-printable STL files, or can be ordered at the same time pre-printed.

The project is now funding on Kickstarter, though many rewards β€” including those with the pre-printed case β€” have already gone; those looking to back the project still have the option of a $75 bundle with all the hardware plus 3D-printable case files.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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