I'm trying to build a little project (my first) with my Pi which is running Raspbian. I want to set up a camera on my piece of land where I'm going to build my house to take some time lapse photo's.

For this I'll set up the Pi with a camera and let it take pictures every one in a while. The Pi itself will be powered through a solar powered battery which should be enough to sustain it indefinitely (well, I hope). I think I've got this part covered.

As the Pi is going to be high up in a tree somewhere, I need an easy way to connect to it and download the pictures it takes.

I've come up with the following three ideas:

  1. I've been thinking about setting it up as an access point (as shown here: https://www.maketecheasier.com/set-up-raspberry-pi-as-wireless-access-point/) and then downloading the files through an ftp server or something.

    It seems like a good idea but I don't really want it to be hosting a wifi network the entire time since I'm only going to downloading the pictures occasionally.

  2. I've also thought about the other way around: setting up a hotspot on my phone and letting the Pi connect to it whenever I'm around. But again, I don't want it pinging for a network that's not going to be there for 90% of the time.

  3. Another idea would be to let it connect to a 3/4G network and just have it send pictures through e-mail, but again, this could be very power consuming.

Obviously, I don't want to go up the tree every time I want to download pictures so my question is: How can I remotely connect to the Pi to download pictures, in such a way that I don't have to physically touch it and that it doesn't use up too much power.

Ultimately, I'd like to know which of the above approaches is the least power consuming and, if possible, the most viable. Any new ideas are greatly appreciated as well.


  • Just to clarify about the access point strategy: You mean have a second pi or something on the ground, to make it easier to get the data occasionally? Or do you mean there is actually internet service on the property, just out of range of the tree?
    – goldilocks
    Aug 10 '15 at 13:56
  • Yup, I mean having a second device on the ground to download the pictures! There is no internet service at all for me to use so I would have to set something up myself.
    – Mike
    Aug 10 '15 at 14:49

3G and 4G both consume more power than WiFi. Also consider Bluetooth option which uses the least power between them (also the least range, but you can increase the range). Check this to see the great difference in terms of power consumption Bluetooth vs WiFi. Of course not all Bluetooth classes are same but they are always less consuming in my knowledge.

If I were you, I would plan some downloading periods so that WiFi or Bluetooth module wouldn't be on needlessly. For example in the morning and in the evening Pi would try to connect a network, maybe your phone as a hotspot or maybe a router, then you take what you want, after some time it turns off, or you can turn it of yourself wirelessly but for sure it will try to turn on at some scheduled time. See this for scheduling tasks Cron.

Also you can create and modify a script for turning it on, i.e. if it tries to connect at 10pm and if there isn't any network available around, you can say sleep for 5 min then try to connect or try to connect continuously.

But, if you want mobility, like controlling it from anywhere, 3G and 4G are your options.

Additionally, there are other communication protocols but since you are gonna up/download photos, you need some high data rate. Here is a nice comparison from wikipedia : Data Rate Comparison


Some introductory information for image transfer using Bluetooth connection :

Book(pdf) : Bluetooth Essentials of Programmers

This is the only book I've read specifically about Bluetooth and I think it covers a lot including programming with Python which will be useful.

Link : Look for OPP and OBEX here

Relevant Question :Check PyOBEX

Relevant Tutorials : Instructables , Some blog, Pi to Smartphone

Hope these will lead you to a solution.

  • It should also be possible for you to put a bluetooth adapter on the pi in the tree, then just come around occasionally with a second bluetooth device and download the latest data. If you do some digging and find the right software, you could even use a phone for this.
    – goldilocks
    Aug 10 '15 at 13:59
  • You're right, I think ios won't work but android will be fine @goldilocks Aug 10 '15 at 14:13
  • Alright, thanks for the information! I'll definitely look in to using bluetooth!! Any pointers on where I could find info on creating the data link? Thanks again! +1
    – Mike
    Aug 10 '15 at 14:45
  • I have added some pointers, good luck! @Mike Aug 10 '15 at 20:47
  • Thanks a lot! Looks like I have a lot of ground to cover but this will surely get me started :-)
    – Mike
    Aug 10 '15 at 21:02

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