Waterproof camera for terrarium?

Hi,

I’m looking to set up a Mycodo to monitor and control a terrarium for carnivorous plants.

The terrarium will be fairly humid (~ 80%), and I’d like to setup a camera to watch it from the inside.

I saw that MyCodo can support both a Raspberry Pi camera, or a USB webcam.

I’m curious what people are using in terms of waterproofing for their cameras? I saw for the Rasberry Pi camera, there are cases available:

https://www.innaturerobotics.com/product-page/weatherbox-for-raspberry-pi-camera-v2 (This one looks a bit dinky - low-res 3D printer?)

Has anybody tried those? Or are there USB webcams that can be easily waterproofed?

Also - how would you extend the cable for a Raspberry Pi camera? (I assume for the USB webcam, this is easy to extend using a normal USB extension cable?).

Or would a standard IP camera (e.g. used for CCTV) be a better option, and expose this over the same network as the MyCodo device?

Thanks,
Victor

1 Like

To extend the cable of Raspberry Pi camera you could buy a flex ribbon extension cable like this one.

I can’t help about waterproofing the cameras, in my case i have my RPi camera outside my terrarium looking inside, but i’m also interested in updating my camera setup, even including more than one. Does Mycodo support IP cameras?

1 Like

To extend the Raspberry Pi camera cable I use these adapter boards that allow you to use a standard HDMI cable in place of the ribbon cable. The ribbon cable can have very bad signal interference at lengths over 24 inches. HDMI cables are shielded and will let you place the camera 15-20 feet away with a good HDMI cable.

As far as waterproofing the camera, find a good case, try vendors who sell underwater remote vehicle and drone parts. You can also waterproof to some degree using conformal coatings, but you have to be careful not to get the coating on any connector pins, contacts, the photo sensor itself, or the lens. The biggest problems with cameras in humid environments is moisture getting inside lens assemblies and causing condensation or mold on the lens elements. The only way I know of to avoid this is to make sure the entire camera and lens are inside a water proof case (with a desiccant pack), or make sure the lens itself is rated as waterproof.

1 Like

Hey, another possibility would be an old/broken waterproof smartphone - you can set it up as IP camera with quite a few apps, IPwebcam being a good starting point. The main issues with such a solution would be constant charging of the phone, hence the battery might not last long, but frankly i’ve used huawei mate 20 pro for a year nonstop and it only downgraded the battery by 6 7%.

1 Like

Thanks all for the suggestions!

For extending the distance of the Rasberry Pi camera, it seems it’s basically down to either converting to HDMI or Ethernet:

(If you just use the flex ribbon cable, with the normal CSI2 standard the Raspberry Pi uses, I believe it’s only specced to 25cm or so - reference).

Arducam make the CSI-to-HDMI converter (This is the one @Lucid3y3 suggested above).

Thine makes one that goes CSI-to-Ethernet - however, the receiver board seems much larger than the HDMI version:

(Link removed - apparently new users can only do 2 links per post).

@Lucid3y3 you’re using those HDMI adapter boards, right? Have you found a good case that can fit both the Raspberry Pi camera itself, as well as just the adapter board?

(The Entaniya case I found above only seems to fit the camera module - I’m not sure if it will fit the HDMI adapter board as well in there).

Thanks,
Victor

2 Likes

I typically don’t bother with cases unless the board might be subject to water splashes, condensation, or excessive heat. I don’t own a 3D printer so I can’t just make a custom case whenever the mood strikes. If the board might be subject to water or condensation I usually use a spray or paint-on conformal coating to protect the electronics where needed… but it’s usually not needed for hydroponics setups. In my setup I simply screwed the HDMI adapter board to the outside of the thermal case I have on the Pi. The camera is also not in a case, the adapter board and camera are screwed to an aluminium bracket that is just clipped to my lights. They have been running like this for well over a year with no issues. I just need to dust off the camera board and clean the lens once in a while.




1 Like

Aha - in my case, there will be a mistking system inside the tank/greenhouse - so there’s a chance of water splash.

Also, the humidity will be around 80% - so I’m guessing that’s not too great for electronics?

I can look into the conformal coatings - it seems there’s acrylic vs silicone ones, I’ll need to do some more research here. Also, I assume it won’t protect the connectors (e.g. CSI2, or the Ethernet ones), so I assume I’ll still need to find a case that will protect the CSI2 to Ethernet adapters.

Also - one other thing I didn’t consider - the Raspberry Pi only has a single CSI2 camera connector - so I will need to find out some way to multiplex multiple cameras to it, and still have that be supported by MyCodo.

I did look into PoE IP cameras - however, most of those are not designed for close focusing (e.g. 10-20cm - which the Raspberry Pi cameras can do), but instead from say 0.5 to 1.0m or more.