Create a Baby Monitor with the Raspberry Pi

The arrival of a baby nearly always alters the entire timetable for all the members of the family, whether willingly or otherwise. For the parents, if they are first timers, the joy of seeing the tiny human is never-ending – they want to see the baby even if they are away from home. That is where a baby monitor comes in and what better to use for the project other than the versatile single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi.

As a simple, cheap, and low power computer, the RBPi works as a perfect fit for a baby monitor that has a motion detector and a simple web browser interface. That allows you to see the little one on your phone or laptop any time you want.

You will need the entire RBPi kit for this project. The kit will have the RBPi, its SD Card, the USB charger, and the micro USB cable. Additionally, you will need a USB webcam, an Ethernet cable, and a Wi-Fi dongle or an Ethernet power line adapter. Although not part of the project, you will also need a laptop or a desktop to prepare the SD Card for the RBPi. To interact with the RBPi, you will also need a keyboard, mouse, and a monitor.

From the official site of the Raspberry Pi, download the latest Raspbian image on your laptop. Now transfer the image to your SD card, making sure you have backed up anything important on the SD card beforehand. Writing an image wipes off whatever you have on your SD card, so be careful. If this is complicated for you, pre-pared SD cards are also available. Insert the SD card into the slot on your RBPi, plug in the keyboard, mouse, monitor, and the Ethernet adapter and power up the RBPi.

If you do not have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor for your RBPi, you can still connect to it using your laptop. If you are using Linux or Mac on your laptop, connect using SSH. For Windows, you can use Putty. Once you have powered on the RBPi, there will be only a few LEDs blinking, but nothing else. That is why it makes such a good baby monitor – it is silent.

To connect to the RBPi, you will need to know its IP address. As the RBPi is connected to the Ethernet adapter, your router will be the best place to look – search in the connected devices, and make a note of the IP address. Now, to connect via SSH, issue the command from your laptop: ssh, where the xx denote the IP address you noted down from the router. When prompted for a password, enter raspberry, as this is the default.

Update and upgrade your OS to ensure you have all the updates and security patches. Now, install motion, as this is the package to allow you to monitor the baby with the webcam. Configure motion to operate in daemon mode with a low frame rate, and start it working with the command: sudo service motion start. Now browse to the webcam from your laptop with: