Back in December, you might remember I blogged about using Texy’s 2.8″ touchscreen with the Pi camera.
At the time I was also aware of the very similar, but slightly more compact, PiTFT by Adafruit. The space for four slim buttons on the PCB made it look ideal. So, this week, when SK Pang tweeted about having PiTFT back in stock, I snapped one up. I also thought I’d put it in a nice case. The Pimoroni PiTFT Pibow looked ideal, so I ordered one of those as well. Both arrived 2 days later. It was time to put it all together. See how I got on in the video…
So I set to work assembling and installing the PiTFT. And here is the part where I was blown away. The PiTFT assembly and installation instructions, written by LadyAda herself, are absolutely outstanding. They’re exactly in alignment with my RasPi.TV philosophy of “complete, clear instructions that work first time”. Lovely clear photographs and clear instructions. I love it when people take the time to do things properly. (Anyone who’s worked with me knows I get very annoyed by sloppy/lazy/rushed/unclear written communications).
One RasPiCamcorder to Rule Them All
I’ve recently been using a Pi with camera and HDMIPi screen to do live photo tweets from events. This is great if you’re based at a demo table, but if you want to be out and about, a large screen can be cumbersome. Since the hardware is basically the same as for a RasPiCamcorder, it seems logical to squish this all down into one compact machine that can do both. So that’s what we have here, with RasPiCamcorder 3. (All photos on this page can be seen at higher resolution if you click them.)
What’s Different from RasPiCamcorder 2?
- I’ve changed the software to do both video and stills. And we now have four button controls instead of two…
- Record video
- Stop recording, close program, shutdown Pi
- Toggle screen on and off for power saving
- Take a still photo and display it on the screen
- I still need to get one of those half-sized micro sd card adaptors to stop the SD card sticking out.
- I’m using a small battery pack from RS which should last a couple of hours. For longer battery life, a model A Pi could be used. But this would mean having to choose between wifi dongle and keyboard, so wouldn’t be much good for live tweeting.
What’s Still To Do?
Well I haven’t even scratched the surface of touch control or made use of Dave Jones’ picamera python interface yet. So there’s a lot that can still be done to improve it. But the proof of principle is there. It works. I’m well aware of Phillip Burgess’ excellent touch-controlled camera based on the PiTFT. It may be that someone, which could be me, Phillip or you, would be able to bring it all together. Any takers?
Video display does still rely on a clever-but-clunky workaround to show the live feed from the camera. I don’t pretend to know exactly how this ‘black magic’ works, but basically the program I’m using – fbcp – copies the main video out feed, downsizes it, and sends it to fb1, which is the frame buffer that the PiTFT uses.
All that is running on the ARM processor, so it’s amazing to me that it works at all. So the fact that it’s a bit ‘jumpy’ is very forgivable. Hopefully, in time, someone will figure out how to use the GPU to do more of this.
There is also still no sound recording.
New Github Repo for the New Software
I thought it best to make a brand new Github repo for this, since it’s customised to the PiTFT. It’s on a CC-BY license. I don’t want to restrict what you can do with it.
So if you’ve got a PiTFT and camera, and want to play RasPiCamcorder3, the instructions are in the Readme file on github.
Have fun. And do let me know in the comments below if you try the software.