HKCam is an open source, DIY HomeKit security camera project

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 24
HomeKit app developer Matt Hochgatterer today has unveiled an open-source HomeKit camera project. The HKCam utilizes a Raspberry Pi Zero W and a 3D printed enclosure to allow users to create their own security camera compatible with Apple's HomeKit for less than $30.

HKCam
HKCam


HomeKit cameras are a sore spot for smart home owners as there are only a few available and they all carry hefty price tags. The most notable to date include the D-Link Omna 180, the Logi Circle 2, and the Netatmo Welcome cam. All of which carry price tags well over $100.

HKCam is easy to assemble even for fairly novice users. It will require a Raspberry Pi Zero W with a power supply, the official Raspberry Pi camera module, a microSD card, and the 3D printed housing. If you don't have a 3D printer Hochgatterer is able to print an enclosure for you for a small fee.

HKCam enclosure
HKCam enclosure


The whole assembly snaps together and then will be accessible through the Home app. Hochgatterer provides a near ready-to-go Raspbian disk image to write to the SD card that runs a modified version of HomeBridge. The 3D printed enclosure will prop the camera up or allow it to be mounted to a wall.

Hochgatterer is the developer behind the popular Home 3 iOS app, arguably the best third-party HomeKit app available. It preceded Apple's own Home app and includes much more functionality, including specific features that work just with HKCam.

HKCam enclosure
HKCam enclosures


Using Home 3, HKCam will support Persistent Snapshots. Persistent Snapshots allows you to take a picture and store the image on the camera. This is perfect to go back and view past event where motion was detected and is crucial if acting as a security camera.

AppleInsider has provided a ready-to-go setup for creating your own Raspberry Pi HomeKit camera in the past though it lacked the 3D printed enclosure, motion support, or the Persistent Snapshots features in HKCam.

Hochgatterer has laid out all the steps on his website and accompanying Github page to get users up and running quickly after obtaining the requisite parts. We've started building our own HKCam so stay tuned to see how our experience plays out.

Get started on your own by grabbing a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a Raspberry Pi camera module, and a microSD card from Amazon.
cornchip

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 468member
    What to say. Cool. No idea what cost commercial equivalent .
  • Reply 2 of 10
    payecopayeco Posts: 301member
    The field of vision of the Pi cam is way too narrow to be an effective security camera though, in my opinion. Take a look at the comparison of what the Pi cam sees versus a run of the mill cheap 1080p security camera in this Amazon review:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/review/B01ER2SKFS/R5L1O5P6BVJ1?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

    You get about a quarter of the view with the Pi cam versus what the 1080p security cam sees. If someone made a lens adapter to go over the camera, sort of like those kits you can get for the iPhone, it might make this worth it. Otherwise it’s just too narrow of a picture.
    edited May 24
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 243member, editor
    payeco said:
    The field of vision of the Pi cam is way too narrow to be an effective security camera though, in my opinion. Take a look at the comparison of what the Pi cam sees versus a run of the mill cheap 1080p security camera in this Amazon review:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/review/B01ER2SKFS/R5L1O5P6BVJ1?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

    You get about a quarter of the view with the Pi cam versus what the 1080p security cam sees. If someone made a lens adapter to go over the camera, sort of like those kits you can get for the iPhone, it might make this worth it. Otherwise it’s just too narrow of a picture.
    There are going to be some things you lose out on. To be fair, there are many other pi camera modules out there that have better vision and wider field of view — they just may not fit this predesigned housing.

    This is really just an alternative for those who have HomeKit and want an extra camera or two and don’t want to spend the $200 on an official one.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    charles1charles1 Posts: 42member
    I don't understand why the enclosure is so tall. The two circuit boards don't need to be placed end to end, they could be stacked so the max height is the size of the CPU board. Also why is the enclosure such bright colors? I'd make it neutral grey or perhaps camo. The kit needs more options like battery power.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    flydogflydog Posts: 279member
    There is no way you can build this for under $30 using the Amazon links in the article.  It adds up to $70 before the power supply.  But they're just $25 on AliExpress via the link in HKCam's website. 

    If the HomeKit aspect is not a dealbreaker, you can get a WyzeCam for $20 that is much better and requires zero assembly.
    edited May 24
  • Reply 6 of 10
    flydogflydog Posts: 279member
    charles1 said:
    I don't understand why the enclosure is so tall. The two circuit boards don't need to be placed end to end, they could be stacked so the max height is the size of the CPU board. Also why is the enclosure such bright colors? I'd make it neutral grey or perhaps camo. The kit needs more options like battery power.
    You can buy a battery pack instead, you can pick any color, and you can even design your own enclosure if you want. 
    cornchiplolliver
  • Reply 7 of 10
    flydogflydog Posts: 279member
    payeco said:
    The field of vision of the Pi cam is way too narrow to be an effective security camera though, in my opinion. Take a look at the comparison of what the Pi cam sees versus a run of the mill cheap 1080p security camera in this Amazon review:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/review/B01ER2SKFS/R5L1O5P6BVJ1?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

    You get about a quarter of the view with the Pi cam versus what the 1080p security cam sees. If someone made a lens adapter to go over the camera, sort of like those kits you can get for the iPhone, it might make this worth it. Otherwise it’s just too narrow of a picture.
    It's not too narrow if it captures what you need it to capture. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 8 of 10
    payecopayeco Posts: 301member
    flydog said:
    payeco said:
    The field of vision of the Pi cam is way too narrow to be an effective security camera though, in my opinion. Take a look at the comparison of what the Pi cam sees versus a run of the mill cheap 1080p security camera in this Amazon review:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/review/B01ER2SKFS/R5L1O5P6BVJ1?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp

    You get about a quarter of the view with the Pi cam versus what the 1080p security cam sees. If someone made a lens adapter to go over the camera, sort of like those kits you can get for the iPhone, it might make this worth it. Otherwise it’s just too narrow of a picture.
    It's not too narrow if it captures what you need it to capture. 
    You’re absolutely right. For very specific use cases it could be perfect. But generally for a security camera you want a wide field of view. 
  • Reply 9 of 10
    payecopayeco Posts: 301member
    flydog said:
    There is no way you can build this for under $30 using the Amazon links in the article.  It adds up to $70 before the power supply.  But they're just $25 on AliExpress via the link in HKCam's website.
    The reason for that is obvious. AliExpress’ affiliate program offers less money so Apple Insider wouldn’t make as much money linking to them. Amazon offers more so they link to them even though it’s almost 3 times the price to the customer. I understand why they do it but AI should be upfront about it.
  • Reply 10 of 10
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 321member
    Anyone know if it's possible to still use the pi ZERO for other homebridge devises like lights and switches? The article says it's a modified version of homebridge. Would be great if it was still able to act as my main hombridge server.
    cornchip
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