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ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse

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Offline RaduP

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ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« on: 22 / February / 2021, 09:36:01 »
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If you are interested in a low cost, 2MP camera that is fully hackable, take a look at the ESP32 Cam (or similar devices). They cost ~5-10 euro (depending on where you get them from) and come with a 2MP sensor, but there is support for other sensors, up to 5MP.

The sensor is not very well documented, but by a long trial and error I managed to make a nice timelapse program. the only limitation is that in very bright conditions the pictures will be overexposed, as I can't reduce the exposure time further down. A hardware shutter would be nice I guess, but that requires a lot of extra hardware.
Anyway, here is the code, I hope you find it useful:
https://github.com/raduprv/esp32-cam_ov2640-timelapse

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Offline c_joerg

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #1 on: 22 / February / 2021, 12:37:02 »
I think the quality of these cameras for time lapse is pretty bad. It usually lacks the dynamic range. I wouldn't do that to myself. Every cheap CHDK compatible camera can do better.
Here is an example of a HQ RaspberryPi camera. Not very convincing when you look at the burned out sky.https://forum.lrtimelapse.com/Thread-sunrise-in-alcorcon-raspberrypi-camerahq
M100 100a, M3 101a, G9x II (1.00c), 2*G1x (101a,100e), S110 (103a), SX50 (100c), SX230 (101a), S45,
Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/136329431@N06/albums
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrTH0tHy9OYTVDzWIvXEMlw/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd

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Offline RaduP

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #2 on: 22 / February / 2021, 15:19:16 »
Yes, the dynamic range is very poor, only 10 bits. However, those cameras are cheap, small, and can actually sleep properly, so you can place them in remote locations. And there is no mechanical wear associated with extending/retracting the lens.

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Offline Mlapse

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #3 on: 27 / February / 2021, 02:55:47 »
However, those cameras are cheap, small, and can actually sleep properly, so you can place them in remote locations. And there is no mechanical wear associated with extending/retracting the lens.

sure for 15euro you do not have much choice, but you could probably pick up a second hand 10MP A-series for that.
the lack of sleep will obviously use more power, but if that is significant depends on how many shots per day you make.

about mechanical wear, it all depends on your specific use.
i have had one cam lock up it's shutter at 50ÂșC ambient temperature.
by then it was running almost non-stop for 18 month and had made over 1.5M pictures in that time.
in my case lens retraction happens once a week, leading to only 52 extend/retract moments a year.
so, for me, mechanical wear for extending the lens after a year boils down to less extend/retracts as would happen on a 14 day holiday.

what would work most reliable depends on what you would be planning to do with your remote setup.
how may pictures per day, how often do you want or need to reboot, card size and so on.
« Last Edit: 27 / February / 2021, 03:07:13 by Mlapse »
frustration is a key ingredient in progress


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Offline RaduP

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #4 on: 27 / February / 2021, 12:27:58 »
If you have power to keep the camera always on, CHDK is the obvious choice.
But if you don't, if you want to take a timelapse on a mountain, in a forest, on a field, lake, etc. then CHDK is not very good, because a Canon camera in low power mode (LCD and sensor off) will eat 90+ mA, or even more, depending on the camera.
Also, if you want to hide the camera, for applications such as security or taking timelapse videos in public places, the ESP32 cam is a good solution.

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Offline Mlapse

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #5 on: 28 / February / 2021, 03:12:14 »
you are absolutely right, if a few watts per day extra is your main worry the canon is not suitable....I am impressed though that you got a canon as low as 90mah.
« Last Edit: 28 / February / 2021, 03:15:01 by Mlapse »
frustration is a key ingredient in progress

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Offline RaduP

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #6 on: 28 / February / 2021, 11:54:19 »
It's not a few extra Watts per day, it's like 10 Watts or so.
Getting it to consume 90 mA is not that hard. You need to turn the sensor and LCD off, and change the clock to a lower frequency. But it might vary from camera to camera.

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Offline Mlapse

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #7 on: 28 / February / 2021, 13:01:37 »
it's like 10 Watts or so.
...i have no idea what that means in extra runtime for the esp32,
but i'm guessing with a module like that you can at least make twice the runtime on the same battery pack before a recharge is needed.
frustration is a key ingredient in progress


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Offline RaduP

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #8 on: 28 / February / 2021, 13:23:47 »
Well, with some hardware mods, the esp32 cam sips about 1 mA while in deep sleep, and about ~200 when active and taking the pic, which lasts between 4 and 10 seconds or so (10 seconds if doing long exposure).
So it can go even a week or so if you take pictures once every few minutes. And it can be recharged by a small solar panel.

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Offline c_joerg

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Re: ESP32 cam + ov2640 sensor timelapse
« Reply #9 on: 28 / February / 2021, 14:06:24 »
I haven't measured my M3 (or M100) yet, but in power down mode I would expect less than 1mA
https://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php?topic=13956.0
M100 100a, M3 101a, G9x II (1.00c), 2*G1x (101a,100e), S110 (103a), SX50 (100c), SX230 (101a), S45,
Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/136329431@N06/albums
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrTH0tHy9OYTVDzWIvXEMlw/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd

 

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