Raspberry PI Zero-W Security Camera - Software Setup and Usage - MotionEyeOS

Installing MotionEyeOS is probably the absolute easiest method for getting a camera up and running on a Raspberry PI.

You will need

  • a micro-SD card, and a method to connect it to your computer and write to it.
  • Software to burn the MotionEyeOS Image to the card ( for this I highly recommend Balena Etcher as it's simple and cross platform for Linux, MacOS and Windows).

Download The latest stable version of MotionEyeOS from their GitHub releases page (basically if the version says -Dev on it, this is not the stable version... so move down the screen to the next version for stable).

Download and install the Balena Etcher software for burning.

Open Etcher, and click the 'Select Image' button (left), then find the downloaded MotionEyeOS image (it will have a .xz extension, but leave it as is...no need to unzip it).

Next, click the button to select a drive / volume to burn the image to.  In the Etcher program this is the center button.  Make sure to select the correct drive, as you don't want to overwrite your backup drives, data drives etc.

Finally, click the Flash button (right) in Etcher.  In MacOS and Linux you'll be prompted for your super user password (login password).  Enter it, then continue and the flash / burn of MotionEyeOS will begin.  It only took about 60 seconds on my machine, but be patient, as flash times will vary.

Flash Complete, but not quite done yet...

If you are using a Raspberry PI Zero W like I am, you need to do a couple of more things before you pull the SD Card and start up the Pi.

  • Add the ability to SSH to the device
  • Setup Wifi for the device (we have to do this now, as there is no other network communication built into the device)

First, make sure the Boot volume is mounted from the SD Card and that you can access it through your file viewer on your computer.  I usually just eject the SD Card, and re-insert it, and it auto-mounts.

Now find the smaller of the two volumes that Etcher created.  This smaller volume is the Boot volume.  Open this volume, and create a new plain text file.  Rename the new file to ssh with no extension and save.  This should be an empty file named ssh with no extension.

Now let's setup our Wireless capability.  In the same Boot volume, create another plain text file and rename it wpa_supplicant.conf.

Open this file, and add the following lines to it.

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev


In the above code snippet there are 3 potential items you may / will need to change.

  1. You need to ensure the two character country code is set to your country.  In my case US (United States) is correct, but if you are in England you'll want to change it to UK, France FR, etc.
  2. You need to put your Wireless Network Name (SSID) between the quotation marks for ssid removing my placeholder text.
  3. You need to put your Wireless Network Password (PSK) between the quotation marks for psk removing my placeholder text.

Save the file, eject your SD Card.

Time to Boot the Pi

Plug the SD Card into your Pi Zero W with a camera attached.   If you're not sure how to attach the camera module properly, checkout my video from Part 1 on the Hardware side of this project.

Give the system about a minute to boot up completely, then use any method you prefer to find it's IP address on your local network.  Many people just use their Network Router to do this, but if you are not sure how to do that, then I recommend a great piece of cross-platform software called AngryIP Scanner.

I show how to use AngryIP Scanner in the linked video at the top of this post.

When you've found your new Pi Camera IP address, you can enter it into the browser of your computer, phone, tablet, or whatever, and as long as both devices are on the same network, you'll be able to see your camera login screen for MotionEyeOS.  

To login the first time, you'll use the username admin and leave the password empty.

You should absolutely change this in the settings (top left of the screen).

Additionally, you will want to add a password for the User account, and can change both the admin username as well as the user username if you sesire.

Apply those settings, then log back in if needed.

Next, in order to get the Pi Zero camera to run in an optimal way at adecent frame rate with good resolution, you should enable a setting found in the Expert Settings section.

Make sure the Fast Network Camera setting is set to  On.

Again, apply your change then let the camera system reboot.  Log back in, and now you'll have a plethora of new settings and options.  


You're done.  If everything has gone to plan you should now have a very functional Raspberry PI Zero W camera that is up and running on some really fantastic open source, self hosted software.