Our creations: Orchids on a Shelf

We’ve have a shelf of orchid plants in a flat in the West Country and we often miss them flowering – this makes us sad.

We decided to set up a Raspberry Pi computer and camera to take pictures and upload them to Twitter each day so that we can see the plants flower.

Setting up the photography element was relatively straightforward just connecting a Pi camera (v2) to a Raspberry Pi and writing a short Python script to take a picture.  There are even easy-to-follow tutorials to get you started.

We set up a special Twitter account and set it up to be a developer’s account to make use of the Application Programming Interface, or API.

We’d used the Twitter API before in our Singing Windows project and so had experience of making it work.

There were two other problems to solve:  timing the photographs at a rate of once per day and getting the Pi camera in the right position to take the photos.

The second problem was easier to solve than the first:  we sourced a 2m long Pi Camera ribbon cable and used a photographer’s flexible arm to hold the camera firmly but let us reposition it as we needed.

Taking a photograph each day could have been done by building in a long sleep command into our Python script but it’s a bit of a fudge…especially if we want to task the Pi to do other jobs at some point in the future.  Instead we decided to set the picture taking up as a cron job.  To be honest it took far longer to get it working properly than we would have liked but eventually we got it to work by specifying that the picture should be taken at 10.40 every morning.

We made an addition a little later:  to upload each picture to Dropbox using a utility written by Andrea Fabrizi.

You can see the daily pictures HERE

Made by Liz

Coded by Liz & Sam