Upgrade of Raspberry Pi Zero with camera

Our club has a Raspberry Pi Zero with camera that uploads weather data and camera images to our website. We are changing the weather software so we are going to setup a new Raspberry Pi with, hopefully, a better camera. We currently have the Pi Zero installed in a perspex case weatherproof and this adversely impacts the image quality.
We are looking for recommendations as to what to buy.
Here is the current setup -

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Hi George
Welcome
You don’t say exactly where the camera is. Your current set up you say is in a case and I assume the camera looks through the perspex with the subsequent image degradation.

It does not matter what you do, looking through a perspex sheet or a weatherproof camera if water gets on the perspex or lens the only thing you could probably do is wipe it clean periodically or have some sort of windscreen wiper to clean it. Glass would be better than perspex for image quality. Also far less electrostatic charging also so gunk would not stick as readily.

The solution of course would be get everything out of the weather like under some sort of awning if possible. Would still have to do a manual clean probably every day as dust and other gunk will play a part in image quality.
Cheers Bob

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Hi @George146909
Welcome to the forums. :slight_smile:

That’s awesome.
I have some questions that I think will help us recommend something.

What is the model of the camera you’re rocking at the moment.
That way I will know if I’m recommending an upgrade.

Did you have something in mind here or would you like us to recommend something. If you’re looking for our thoughts here it would be good to know the weather software your hoping to run on it :cloud_with_lightning_and_rain:

Ah that’s tough. Would you consider setting up an outboard waterproof camera and wiring it to the raspberry PI?

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Hi Robert and Pixmusix,
The camera is the Raspberry Pi Camera Board v2 - 8 Megapixels. It is mounted in the case that you see attached to the PVC pipe in the image. I am looking for some ideas/recommendations and yes we would consider an outboard waterproof camera to the Pi. The weather software is currently set up on the Pi. My son is the lead software engineer for InfluxData and he wrote a program in GO to upload a file to our website from the Ecowitt weather console. He can probably write whatever I need to do the task.

Oh and thank you for the prompt replies :blush:

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Hi George
You will still have to keep the rain and other gunk off it or have a regular cleaning roster.
Cheers Bob

Hi, exactly which camera are you using?

The existing camera seems super-good-enough to me! 8 Megapixels is no joke!
If you are still set on an upgrade, the HQ Camera has 50% higher resolution and adds flexibility with interchangeable lenses.

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Thanks Michael,the problem with image quality is due to shooting through the perspex cover. I was considering a new camera to get a wider angle view of our field. Attached is a sample from our camera.
webcam_1200

check out the lens options chart on the HQ camera product page - the Field of View spec may be of interest
there are some pretty wide lenses available!

also, if the acrylic is creating distortion I’m sure you can buy small optical-grade glass samples on eg. ebay.

You could even buy a cheap UV lens filter and glue that in place as a high-quality optical window for the camera to peer through.

Thanks Michael,
I saw all those camera lenses. Very cool. Pixmusix suggested linking to an external weatherproof security camera? I saw these lenses are available, so I could add the wide angle to get the expanded view I was seeking?

Totally! If you can find a weatherproof camera what interfaces nicely that will be the dream for sure :+1:
I was approaching the problem prioritising guaranteed compatibility but if you’re willing to do a bit of research and experiment then the world is your oyster.
I like the idea of keeping things out of the optical path - but if you need to hack on an external fisheye lens i suppose it isn’t the end of the world. I’d be wary of moisture ingress and fogging though

Michael,
I agree with what you are saying about the fogging etc but the lenses I was looking at are compatible with the Pi camera, so I didn’t imagine I was hacking on an external, non compliant lens. Then maybe drilling a hole in the perspex case and glueing an optical grade glass over the hole?
Cheers,
George

Hi George
If you are going for a very wide angle lens you should cut a largish hole and get the lens as close to the glass as possible or all you will see is the hole edges around your picture. Also as far as dust and dirt on the glass the closer the lens the better as it will be so far out of focus it will have to be pretty dirty to really see it.

I don’t really know what is meant by “optical” grade glass. I think the glass will have to be pretty thin or curved or you might see some strange effects once you move away from the centre of the picture (where the lens is looking through the glass at right angles) due to refraction. Probably a photography person would be the best to advise here. I think perspex would be pretty bad for this with wide angle lens. Have you ever drilled a hole in a block of perspex and viewed it from different angles. Have a look at some dash cam pics. The distortion around the outer part of the video through the windscreen is pretty ordinary.
The lens part of the camera outside the box, that is the whole front of the lens through a hole, would be the totally best way to go if you want good pics. It would obviously have to be weather proof.
Cheers Bob

Hi Bob,
Point taken. The reference to “optical grade glass” came from Michael, in one of his replies. Regarding cleaning daily, it’s not practical as it is a remote site and only visited as the weather permits for RC aircraft flying. However, we will test a new setup with a glass “porthole” and see how we go.
I appreciate all the prompt replies. A very helpful forum!

Hi @George146909,

I think the optical comment from Michael was more picking up a low-end photography filter like this:

Which will likely be more than good enough for the porthole for the camera to peak through.

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:point_up: bingo - cheap lens accessories are abundant on ebay

Hi George
s you probably are not interested in top quality state of the art pics and you can put up with a bit of refraction distortion around the edges flat glass would be good enough.

If by going wide angle means you want to see a bit more of what is going on when the site is unoccupied a bit of research into a Fish Eye lens might be worthwhile. Point it straight up and you will get a 360º view all around. Finances might be a game changer though. I have no idea what that might be or if it is a complete lens or an addition to the one already fitted. That comes under research.

Michael mentioned Fish Eye in an earlier post.
Cheers Bob

Hey George,

As a follow up to Bobs comment on a Fisheye lens. If you are looking to go with the Pi HQ camera, we have a Fisheye lens for the m12 variant of that camera that would work pretty well, it isn’t overly expensive either.

I would imagine if you are using a solid box, weatherproofing it wouldn’t be too difficult with a bit of silicone and the optical glass mentioned above.

Cheers,
Blayden

Hi Blayden
Is that lens a true “Fish Eye”. I would have thought a true Fish Eye would have a field of view of 180º or better al around. That one quotes (from chart) Diagonal 184.6º, Horizontal 140º and vertical 102.6º. That would suggest to me that the resultant image would have a “barrel” effect (like a dash cam). Even if mounted facing up it would only get down to ground level at 4 points.
Like any other Fish Eye lens you would have to have the lens outside the box or (considering this one) you would only see the inside of the box at 4 points.

I could be quite wrong here as I have not had any “hands on” experience with the Fish Eye technique. Please feel free to correct if this is the case. Open to learn something. This looks like a pretty handy wide angle unit anyway.
If I get a bit of time in the next few days I will look up some info on the subject.
Cheers Bob