Raspberry Pi Controls 3D-Printed Pan Tilt Camera with Mouse

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Erwin Chin)

If you’re looking for a fun way to control your camera module with the Raspberry Pi, take a closer look at this mouse-operated camera system created by maker and developer Erwin Chin. With a custom web app and 3D printed housing, he’s devised a simple interface for changing what the camera is focused on using nothing more than mouse input. Likening the project to a first-person shooter game, users are able to look around through the camera with crosshairs overlaying the video feed.

While this is the first Raspberry Pi project we’ve seen from Chin, a quick look at his GitHub history indicates experience with Python—the go-to choice for many developers on the Raspberry Pi. This also appears to be the first 3D-printed project Chin has shared to Thingiverse.

This project relies on both a Raspberry Pi and a separate machine to access the web interface. Users can log into the web app to see what the camera sees in real-time—moving the cursor around the web app window causes the camera to move in the same direction with reasonable speed and accuracy.

A Raspberry Pi 3B+ is used to operate the camera and run the web app, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use a Pi 4 module. A Zero W might pull off the project as well, but you’ll have better luck with a bit of extra memory from the bigger Pi models. The camera module used is a Raspberry Pi Camera v2.1 mounted to a custom 3D-printed frame. This frame also houses a couple of RDS3115mg servo motors and an Adafruit 16ch PWM HAT to help drive them.

Users have a few options for running web servers on the Pi. In this case, Chin opted to use a Flask server along with MJPEG to stream the video feed to the browser window. The pan/tilt directions are handled using MQTT commands. Chin was kind enough to make the project open-source with all of the code used in this project made available over at GitHub.

If you’d like to recreate this Raspberry Pi project, check out the original project thread on Reddit, and be sure to follow Chin for more projects and any future updates on this one. 

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.