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ESP32 CAM - 10 Dollar Camera for IoT Projects

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DroneBot Workshop
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Today we are working with the ESP32-CAM, an amazing 32-bit microcontroller module with a built-in camera and microSD card interface that retails for less than 10 dollars!

Article with code: https://dronebotworkshop.com/esp32-cam-intro/

Quick quiz - what has a camera, a microSD card socket, several GPIO pins, WifI and Bluetooth and costs less than 10 bucks? Answer - the ESP32-CAM module from A-Thinker!

We have already worked with the ESP32, it’s a 32-bit microcontroller from Espressif Systems that has a wealth of features. The ESP32 is a perfect choice to build WiFi-enabled or IoT projects, and it can be programmed using the familiar Arduino IDE.

There are many different modules that use the ESP32, and today we will look at one of the most popular ones - the ESP32-CAM. As its name would imply this module has a built-in 2-megapixel camera, as well as a microSD card and provisions for using an external antenna.

The demo sketch that comes with the module creates a full-featured Camera Web Server, complete with a control panel and advanced features like face detection. All you need to do to get it working is to add your WiFi credentials.

One thing that is missing from the ESP32-CAM module, however, is a USB connector. To program this device you’ll need to use an FTDI adapter, the same type you would use when programming an Arduino Pro Mini.

Today I’ll show you how to hook up that FTDI adapter and program the ESP32-CAM. I’ll also show you how to add an external antenna, and how to troubleshoot any “brownout condition” errors you might get when experimenting with this device.

Here is what we will be covering today:

00:00 - Introduction
03:23 - ESP32-CAM Introduction
08:18 - Using the FTDI Adapter
09:28 - Camera Web Server Example
15:44 - Resolving Brownout Problems
22:39 - Using an External Antenna

If you need more information or would like a copy of the Antenna Test Sketch head over to the DroneBot Workshop website where you will find an article that accompanies this video at https://dronebotworkshop.com/esp32-cam-intro/.

"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." — Steve Wozniak


   
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YurkshireLad
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I think you said in this video that you shouldn't buy the ESP32-CAM module from Amazon, if I recall correctly. I can't remember why you said that, but are there any particular brands of this module that are recommended?


   
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Spyder
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@yurkshirelad

Bill might have a better answer, but, from my experience, I've found that it's not specifically Amazon that's the problem, it's the boards they sell. I've only been able to get the AI-Thinker, and Vroom (wroom ?) to work. Many of the others are noname boards that aren't supported by the esspresif drivers (libraries). There are a few libraries to choose from, and I tried them all

I found this out the hard way by getting what I thought was a bargain at 3 for 10$. I was never able to get any of those to work until I bought the AI-Thinker and vroom boards. Those 2 boards worked fine on the first try

Hope this helps


   
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YurkshireLad
(@yurkshirelad)
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Thanks. That makes sense; I saw one branded as KeeYees, so probably it's best to avoid.


   
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AngeloB
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AngeloB
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Question:

What doesn’t work is the ESP32-CAM with servos.  Finding a free GPIO and making work is the problem.

 

Any help?


   
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AngeloB
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I got servos working

 

How do you make this camera portable? with out pugging it in?

 

 


   
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sj_h1
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@angelob Depends on what you are talking about, but if you are referring to power just attach a battery between the 5v and gnd pins. The 5v pin can handle up to 12v. I have used a 9v battery and it works just fine.

 


   
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AngeloB
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I want to move the camera around the house  - portable

 

I know I can use my IPhone and see the camera where it is.

This post was modified 2 years ago 2 times by AngeloB

   
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Bob207
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Has anyone managed to be able to stream the picture into a web site?

I can see the picture from the camera on my local ip address and I am trying to get a web streaming program called pagekite to stream it on a web site (it provides the website) but all my attempts fail and the owner of pagekite knows nothing about windows and blames IIS for the problem.

Any help would be appreciated. 

I have tried to use another streaming service (ngrok) and now have the ISS signal on two different websites but as yet not worked out how to send my camera information.

Maybe you would do a video of connecting the esp32-cam to the internet Bill? 🙂 

Bob.

This post was modified 2 years ago by Bob207

   
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sparky6
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I have a dual band router. I've disabled the 5Ghz band. I've tried everything I can think of and can't seem to connect to the router.

I've managed to set the board up as AP so I think the hardware is ok. Bill mentions in the video its not compatible with 5ghz routers. Anyone have any insight?

 

Thanks 


   
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tentoes
(@tentoes)
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A real improvement for these things would be for the maker (or supplier) to solder BOTH the jumpers for the internal AND external antennas.  Then it would be a simple matter to use a pair of flush cutters to remove the undesired connection.  Easy, schmeasy!


   
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Ron
 Ron
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@bob207 Your problem has nothing to do with the ESP32CAM it's a normal routing/firewall issue. Just research how to expose internal ip on the internet but also realize the security issues especially for a noob. Most modern routers have an option for this, see pic

Screen Shot 2022 10 12 at 15.02.23

 

"Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” - G.S. Patton, Gen. USA
"Never wrestle with a pig....the pig loves it and you end up covered in mud..." anon


   
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Ron
 Ron
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@sparky6 Yes, I think the ESP32CAM is 2.4 only, so you have done the right thing although I don't disable, just disable broadcast. I have to often pull power on my router for 10 or more minutes to flush out old addresses because I have a lot of wifi around me. Try that.

"Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” - G.S. Patton, Gen. USA
"Never wrestle with a pig....the pig loves it and you end up covered in mud..." anon


   
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Ron
 Ron
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@angelob A 9V battery is portable, connect it either to USB or the 5V pin.

"Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” - G.S. Patton, Gen. USA
"Never wrestle with a pig....the pig loves it and you end up covered in mud..." anon


   
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