This Raspberry Pi project is useful for anyone with caged pets to keep an eye on but, in this case, maker Hannah Lapp is using this custom remote monitoring system to observe lab rats for behavioral analysis studies. Lapp is a postdoctoral researcher at the Champagne Lab at UT Austin which focuses on early life experiences and their life-long effects.
According to Lapp, she had no experience with programming or the Raspberry Pi but has spent the last few years building familiarity with the SBC. Not only does this project help with her research studies, but Lapp is also using the opportunity to create a helpful wiki for anyone interested in recreating the project to follow along with—no programming or Raspberry Pi experience required.
It doesn’t take too much hardware to get started. The system is built around a Raspberry Pi and relies on a camera module for its real-time video feed. The Pi is capable of running around the clock and can even capture activity in dark environments using an infrared camera.
The example used throughout her tutorial relies on a Raspberry Pi 3B+ but Lapp ensures compatibility with both older and newer models. If the Pi you’re using does not have a Wi-Fi module, you will need an adapter for wireless support. For video input, Lapp is using a Raspberry Pi Camera Module 2.
In the documentation, you’ll find instructions for setting up the Pi with Raspberry Pi OS which acts as a base for the monitoring system. It also goes over how to use the camera module to record video and transmit the files to a selection of cloud services using rclone. The project requires certain events to be run at predetermined times using crontab, something we’ve covered before in our guide on how to run scripts at boot on the Raspberry Pi.
Some of the best Raspberry Pi projects come out of necessity and Lapp’s creation shows how easy it is to get started as a beginner. The wiki is available on Lapp’s official GitHub page. Be sure to check it out to see how everything goes together and what it looks like in action at the lab.
Head over to the original thread shared to Twitter by Lapp for more pictures and details behind the creation of this lab monitoring system.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
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.