How to make a time lapse using a Raspberry Pi and Racket

racketlapseI have been using the Raspberry Pi camera for a few days and I have been really impressed by the quality of the image and video. As you know, I have also been playing a lot with Racket recently. Yesterday I thought that one could take a time lapse using Racket. In fact, I thought that one could build a “portable time lapse maker” as follows:

Put everything in your backpack, go on location, switch on the Raspberry Pi, attach your phone to the WiFi created by the Raspberry Pi, launch the job and you have an extremely portable, light and (hopefully) not-too-power-hungry time lapse maker. For instance, you could leave it on top of a mountain or next to the sea at night and go to pick it up the following day.

There was nothing on TV yesterday night, so I tried to see if it was possible to build a prototype. In the end, it turned out to be easier than I expected :-). I just had to play a bit with the parameters of raspistill but overall it took me:

  • 45 minutes to write takeTimeLapse.rkt from beginning to end.
  • 20 minutes to debug it and fix a few problems with parameters for raspistill.
  • 35 minutes to build the Illy waterproof box as described in the link above.
  • 10 minutes to build the cardboard version to be attached overhead (see picture above).
  • 25 minutes to write WebRacketLapse.rkt (with very little debugging, so it is probably not going to work very well… I have already noticed a bug: the thread variable is not set to null when the thread finishes, this needs to be fixed).

I have uploaded the code here: If you want to try it, just download it to your Raspberry Pi and launch racket WebRacketLapse.rkt.

This is the result of 1h30 mins of coding, so use with extreme caution! Contributors are welcome…

These are the results of some experiments:

  • Dawn in Temple Fortune: I left the Illy box outside for the night using a 9000 mAH rechargable battery and I managed to have enough power to go for 8 hours and a half (the video is trimmed at the begin and at the end); the temperature was around 7 C. Considering that the WiFi USB dongle is probably using a lot of power, one can expect at least 10 hours of battery life if the dongle is disconnected. 8 hours of 1920×1080 images taken every 15 seconds took approx 2 Gb of disk space. I have and 8 Gb SD card, so plenty of space left.

I am happy with the results so far and. If anyone  has time to make this more user-friendly with a bespoke image for the Raspberry Pi and a better user interface in HTML, then I think it could have a number of applications. Drop me a line if you are interested.


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