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The Raspberry Pi Camera Module: Part 4 – Mobile Time-Lapse Video

The Raspberry Pi Camera Module: Part 4 – Mobile Time-Lapse VideoThe RAVPower Element power bank - ready to fuel my Pi

In Part 3 I showed you how I created a time-lapse video simply using Terminal commands to capture the images from the camera module, and a Windows machine to compile into a video.

I intend to make a 5th part in this series covering the latest slow motion capabilities of the camera module, but for now I thought it would be interesting to show you a few better examples of the time-lapse function outside of the home.

My last example was taken at home using mains power – this time – we’re on the move with the help of my new RAVPower power bank

The Power Bank

I previously had logistical limitations to the scope of my time-lapse videos, with no way of powering my Raspberry Pi without a plug being within reach. All that has changed this week as just like Snap…I’ve got “The Power”.

Enter my latest purchase – An Element power bank from RAVPower.

Ravpower Elements parts

Lots of extras!

This glossy black number currently costs around £20 from Amazon and packs 10400mAh of fruit juice (aka Raspberry Power!). The package comes complete with a storage bag and 2x USB to micro-USB cables.

The power bank offers 2 USB power ports – 1x 1 Amp and 1x 2 Amp. I’ll be using the 2 Amp port for the Pi, to make sure it gets everything it needs to power the camera module and USB network dongle.

A handy button is situated on the front which, when pressed, lights up 4 LEDs on the front to indicate the remaining charge in the unit. The power bank is charged via a micro-USB connection, the same as my phone (no messing around with specialist cables here!).

Ravpower close ups

Clear, simple and easy to use

Power Capacity

The Element packs a massive 10400mAh capacity which will give more than enough to make any kind of timelapse video. To figure out how long it might last, a quick search on the Raspberry Pi forums gave me the following formula:

  • The Pi needs 5V 700mA (bare minimum, I’ll be using more than this with the camera) – so that’s 5 (Volts) x 0.7 (Amps) = 3.5 (Watts)
  • The Element powerbank pushes out 5V 10400mAh – so that’s 5 (Volts) x 10.4 (Amps) = 52 (Watt-hours)
  • With this we can work out the Pi runs for 52 Watt-hours / 3.5 Watts = 14.8 hours

So nearly 15 hours on the go is available – although that assumes no Pi activity or attached devices. Even if it’s a few hours short of that with my peripherals, that’s plenty enough for my needs and I can easily do half a day of footage with that!
 
Motorway Time-Lapse
 
To test out the setup, I thought I’d take advantage of the usual Bank Holiday journey to my mums house in Southampton as the recent weather hasn’t been predictable enough to venture out to the beach for a nice sunrise shot.
 
I attached my Pi Pod case to it’s matching Raspberry Pi case, using the worlds #1 tool – Duct tape! I then attached this to the dash in the same way:
Ravpower element close ups 2

Classy use of Duct tape…

The journey is usually around 2.5 hours but this weekend was busy as you would expect and went on for a good 3+ hours. Gotta love the Bank Holiday traffic!
 
I ended up just filming the return journey – and foolishly set the Pi to take snaps for just 3 hours, which cut off the last 20 minutes of my drive (not a big deal for this test). Safe to say the power bank had no issues fuelling the Pi for just 3 hours – i’ll put it through a greater test soon.

I compiled the shots using VirtualDub as before – 15 FPS this time – and you can see the end result video below complete with rain and wipers!

 

I’m still working on getting a Python script to control the camera module – so far it’s been nothing but failure but I don’t give up that easily! After that I’ll be doing a fifth part in this series covering slow motion shots, hopefully at hockey training.

Want one? Get your own RAVPower Elements power bank from Amazon.

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