Since I built my own motion activated surveillance system I have come back to re-visit the Gargoyle project. Gargoyle One can be seen here;
It was built using a Dell Mini 9 stuffed into a backpack and a webcam. I have made many modifications since then. I replaced the backpack with a fishing vest (Lots of accessible pockets) and the Mini 9 was replaced with a Raspberry Pi. The mistake I made with the first one, was I wanted it all and it was just not going to happen with the hardware I had access to and the limitation of size. So I narrowed down scope of the project, all this rig is suppose to do is record and save input and then provide a way to display the data. I have no need to access a desktop or use it surf the web, I have a smartphone for that. the first thing I gave up on was trying to capture video and went for a continuous stream of pictures, about 2 per second. this lowered the CPU and disk space requirements. A 320×240 jpeg takes up less than 10kb, a 640×480 jpeg takes less than 30kb so I can easily store thousands of these pictures on the 32GB SD card in the RPi. Any decent resolution of video is going take up far mare drive space then the equivalent time span of pictures. The ultimate test of this is going to be Comic Con in October. Rather than walk around carrying my cell phone asking for pictures, I can just walk around and absorb information automatically. I will need to test it in crowds of people beforehand however, to make sure my idea works in reality or if I just end up with thousands of blurry pictures.
I made a few minor modifications to Gargoyle One today. I figured out how to access my ad hoc wireless network without taking my iPhone off the 3G network, which is good, I thought I was going to have to buy a cheap PDA. The second thing was I decided to leave the portable hard drive unhooked from the system and use an SD card instead. The hard drive was draining the battery too fast. I will leave the drive in it place, so I can easily transfer files to it for storage if the 4 GB SD card fills up. I think either tomorrow or Saturday I will strap it to PezWitch and we will go out and give the rig a real workout, film some driving and perhaps me taking pictures of wild flowers or something.
My second run went very well. The ad hoc network ran as expected and I was able to control the webcam with no issues at all. Here are a couple of pics PezWitch took.
and finally, the resulting video.
Last night I came up a with a pretty good idea for controlling the Dell Mini 9, while it is stowed in a backpack. VNC is a program that I have used a lot to remotely control other system on my internal network and as the iPhone commercials say, there us an app for that. so I installed VNC server on the Mini and the client on my iPhone. I then wrote a couple scripts to activate and deactivate the webcam. Needless to say this worked great.
The problem I immediately occurred to me, it this works until I walk out of range of my wifi router. I then spent the next 1 hour or so configuring the Mini to host an ad hoc wireless network and connecting my iPhone to it. I wanted to secure the network, but for some reason the iPhone would ask for a username when I tried to connect, something that is not suppose to happen, so until I figure it out, Gargoyle One will have to be an open network. This afternoon, I plan to make my second run to see how things actually work in the field.
So today, while PezWitch was at work, I put together a gargoyle rig. In Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s third novel, a gargoyle is someone constantly wired into the Metaverse or the matrix or the Internet, whatever you want to call it. Anyway, they are decked out with all sorts of tech for constantly recording video and audio and storing online for later use. My rig is fairly simple, I Velcro a Dell Mini 9 and an external hard drive to a wooden board, put it in a mesh backpack, hooked up a webcam and that was it.
Once I had the whole thing rigged up, I went out for a little walk around the secret lair. Imagine if you will, me walking around in public with that webcam hooked to my shoulder and wires going under my arm and into the mesh backpack.
That was fun. Now I have a couple of things I want to add, first is sound, which should be easy enough. Second I’d like to be able to control the webcam without having to take off the backpack and it would be nice to be able to see the real time video or even better my desktop.