I've been searching a while trying to find a way to have a Home Surveillance system using the RasPi, but unable to find a solution that includes all of the following. Would someone know of a solution that would have the following?

  1. Mutliple cameras (either networked or one connected to multiple RasPi)
  2. Video would use motion detection for recording (possibly using 'motion' or alternatives)
  3. While it could record the video locally to SD card, ideally it would archive the videos to a central location (e.g. networked storage, possibly dropbox?)
  4. Password protected web server that would allow the Admin (me) to manage settings centrally (e.g. sensitivity to motion detection)
  5. Alerts that a video was just captured (e.g. email)
  6. Ability to view/delete the captured video from a link received over email?
  7. Webcams to capture video from 2nd floor at night. Inexpensive preferred.

What I've done so far is setup a RasPi with motion and an inexpensive webcam, but the results is that motion keeps crashing. I've then purchased the MPEG2 license, thinking that may help motion, but no dice. So I started wondering if video recording was too much for RasPi?

My search turned very few projects on video surveillance and none with the features I'm looking for. I'm happy to put it together myself, just not sure the RasPi is robust enough for this task; so I'm open to suggestions/guidance.


  • Hey, good use for the hardware (at least in theory.) My feeling is that if motion is crashing out on you, the problem is not the RasPi being overwhelmed with too much input to process. If you are maxing out the CPU you will just get lower framerates(?). A crash is an indication that motion is getting corrupt frames (say) from the camera and not dealing well. I recommend you either a) get a different camera, one widely viewed as working on the RasPi, or b) step back to a simpler task, like capturing individual frames - if that fails, you realize the problem is not the CPU, but USB issues. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 2:33
  • Oh, are you following the relevant thread on the Foundation forums? I think if you were you would report your firmware version. Stuff has been getting fixed. raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/… Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 2:50
  • I'm interested in creating a similar project. Any updates on your progress since posting this question?
    – JSuar
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 18:45
  • Sorry, I've not made any significant progress. I installed 'motion' and it keeps crashing. I suspect its because RasPi simply does not have significant 'horsepower' to use it. I decided to purchase a 'canned' product. IM me if you'd like to know more, but not including it here since it's not RasPi related.
    – Jose Leon
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 17:14
  • I don't know if you are still pursuing this, but I am creating a home surveillance system which does everything you are wanting it to do. The catch is that each raspi can handle at most a single camera, but seeing as how the raspi costs $30 and the raspi camera attachment $20, that is no problem. If you want to continue this further, we can take it to chat (I know there is a way to do that, just can't remember how)
    – puk
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


I tried this too. The pi could not handle a single camera's motion detection, an old MacMini (Core2Duo 1.8GHz) after that could only just handle 2 cameras with motion detection. An i5 2.5Ghz Win7 laptop could barely manage 4, while my newer Mac mini that is also i5 2.5Ghz handles 4max smoothly. I mention these examples (that I have tried myself) to give you some idea of how performance matches to video motion monitoring. All of these setups had 1 1024x1280 camera and 0 or more 640x480 cameras.

  • Wow. That's interesting! I think what this terrible performance tells us is that motion detection isn't very well optimized in /usr/bin/motion. After all, these tiny IR motion sensors do it quickly and effectively with only IR, a big diffuser, and only a dozen pixels or so ... Perhaps 'motion' should pool pixels until there are only 1000 of them, instead of trying to discern activity amongst >300K pixels. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 3:46

It's VERY possible: Just clone the open-ipcamera repo to your Pi:

git clone https://github.com/open-ipcamera/open-ipcamera

The cd open-ipcamera and fill in your user-specific data into (2) variable files variables-secure.sh and variables.sh then execute the install script ./open-ipcamera-config.sh and Bob is well-and-truly-your-uncle!

open-ipcamera is a collection of bash scripts that configures a Pi as a motion detection camera with alerting & Dropbox cloud storage. Even has a facility to upgrade in-place to security patch and add new functionality to installed open-ipcamera systems.

open-ipcamera writes images locally to USB storage to avoid trashing the MicroSD card the OS lives on before punting them up to the cloud using Dropbox's API. After successfull upload, local copies are deleted ensuring storage never fills to 100%

open-ipcamera even has heat alerting for both WARN & SHUTDOWN. Another neat use of alerting is the camera emails it's ip address on startup so you can find a headless Pi without a monitor attached on a network- say your iPhone ;-).

For night capture, you'd need to connect a Pi NoIR Pi-cam and have an IR light source such as this: IR External Light Array

open-ipcamera Resources:

open-ipcamera YouTube Channel

open-ipcamera Wiki

HTH -Terrence

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