Raspberry PiZeroW Camera Module

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When you’ve gotten used to Amazon Prime and free shipping, purchasing inexpensive items from other online retailers where the shipping doubles the cost of the item makes it harder to impulse buy items. An item for $5 that costs $7 in shipping often doesn’t get bought. Even a pair of items that cost $16 together that then cost $7 in shipping cause me to delay the purchase.

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Because I was purchasing a Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi USB-C Power Supply from Sparkfun, I decided to throw in another Pi ZeroW and case for another $16. I then added the Raspberry Pi Camera module because the case has an optional cover enclosing the camera and I wanted to see how it all worked together. I only wish I’d realized that there was a Noir version, because I’ve always wanted to play with infrared photography.

Having recently streamlined the installation of a Pi Zero, I installed the camera and Pi ZeroW in the case, put the configured micro sd card in place, plugged it into my HDMI monitor just to watch it boot and applied power. I never saw anything on the monitor. The Pi ZeroW only has a single LED, which is generally on, but blinks for micro sd activity. Because I’d closed the case, the LED wasn’t visible, and with no monitor activity I was wondering if I’d gotten a bad board.

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I opened the case and powered it on again, this time I knew I was seeing LED activity. I did a quick search of my network for new devices and found the new board was responding on ssh and appeared to be working correctly other than no HDMI output.  I was even able to take a snapshot with the camera using the command:

raspistill -o image.jpg

I decided to test booting the device without the camera installed. That worked fine, and I had HDMI output during the boot process. Now I started to wonder if perhaps the power supply I was using didn’t provide enough power. Perhaps the camera and the HDMI device were mutually exclusive in the amount of power required

A lot of searching on the web resulted in nothing about the power required for the camera affecting the HDMI output. I found that I might be able to reduce the power requirements by 25mA by turning off the HDMI, but that the Pi ZeroW was already the lowest power draw available. https://www.jeffgeerling.com/blogs/jeff-geerling/raspberry-pi-zero-conserve-energy

I found the tvservice command and the -s option with the camera installed was resulting in a different result from without the camera installed.

pi@WimPiZeroCamera:~ $ sudo /usr/bin/tvservice -s
state 0x40000 [NTSC 4:3], 720x480 @ 60.00Hz, interlaced
pi@WimPiZeroW:~ $ sudo /usr/bin/tvservice -s
state 0xa [HDMI CEA (16) RGB lim 16:9], 1920x1080 @ 60.00Hz, progressive

At least recognizing that difference was progress. For some reason under Raspian Buster the camera module is causing the HDMI output to be different. I found options in https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/configuration/config-txt/video.md that allow me to force the HDMI output to what I want. I changed /boot/config.txt with the following and now I’ve got both camera and video working properly.

# uncomment to force a specific HDMI mode (this will force [HDMI CEA (16) RGB lim 16:9], 1920x1080 @ 60.00Hz, progressive)
hdmi_group=1
hdmi_mode=16

I hope that this helps someone else having problems with both camera and hdmi video output. I don’t know if this was specific to Buster since I never tried it under Jessie or Stretch.

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