Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Mount

As far as I can tell, Raspberry Pi cases are a solved problem, so 3D printing an intricate widget to stick a Pi on the back of an HQ camera seems unnecessary unless you really, really like solid modeling, which, admittedly, can be a thing. All you really need is a simple adapter between the camera PCB and the case of your choice:

HQ Camera Backplate - OpenSCAD model
HQ Camera Backplate – OpenSCAD model

A quartet of 6 mm M2.5 nylon spacers mount the adapter to the camera PCB:

RPi HQ Camera - nylon standoffs
RPi HQ Camera – nylon standoffs

The plate has recesses to put the screw heads below the surface. I used nylon screws, but it doesn’t really matter.

The case has all the right openings, slots in the bottom for a pair of screws, and costs six bucks. A pair of M3 brass inserts epoxied into the plate capture the screws:

RPi HQ Camera - case adapter plate - screws
RPi HQ Camera – case adapter plate – screws

Thick washers punched from an old credit card go under the screws to compensate for the case’s silicone bump feet. I suppose Doing the Right Thing would involve 3D printed spacers matching the cross-shaped case cutouts.

Not everyone agrees with my choice of retina-burn orange PETG:

RPi HQ Camera - 16 mm lens - case adapter plate
RPi HQ Camera – 16 mm lens – case adapter plate

Yes, that’s a C-mount TV lens lurking in the background, about which more later.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

// Raspberry Pi HQ Camera Backplate
// Ed Nisley KE4ZNU 2020-09
//-- Extrusion parameters
/* [Hidden] */
ThreadThick = 0.25;
ThreadWidth = 0.40;
HoleWindage = 0.2;
function IntegerMultiple(Size,Unit) = Unit * ceil(Size / Unit);
function IntegerLessMultiple(Size,Unit) = Unit * floor(Size / Unit);
Protrusion = 0.1; // make holes end cleanly
inch = 25.4;
ID = 0;
OD = 1;
//- Basic dimensions
CamPCB = [39.0,39.0,1.5]; // Overall PCB size, plus a bit
CornerRound = 3.0; // ... has rounded corners
CamScrewOC = [30.0,30.0,0]; // ... mounting screw layout
CamScrew = [2.5,5.0,2.2]; // ... LENGTH = head thickness
Standoff = [2.5,5.5,6.0]; // nylon standoffs
Insert = [3.0,4.0,4.0];
WallThick = IntegerMultiple(2.0,ThreadWidth);
PlateThick = Insert[LENGTH];
CamBox = [CamPCB.x + 2*WallThick,
CamPCB.y + 2*WallThick,
Standoff.z + PlateThick + CamPCB.z + 1.0];
PiPlate = [90.0,60.0,PlateThick];
PiPlateOffset = [0.0,(PiPlate.y - CamBox.y)/2,0];
PiSlotOC = [0.0,40.0];
PiSlotOffset = [3.5,3.5];
NumSides = 2*3*4;
TextDepth = 2*ThreadThick;
// Useful routines
module PolyCyl(Dia,Height,ForceSides=0) { // based on nophead's polyholes
Sides = (ForceSides != 0) ? ForceSides : (ceil(Dia) + 2);
FixDia = Dia / cos(180/Sides);
cylinder(r=(FixDia + HoleWindage)/2,h=Height,$fn=Sides);
// Build it
difference() {
union() {
hull() // camera enclosure
for (i=[-1,1], j=[-1,1])
translate([i*(CamBox.x/2 - CornerRound),j*(CamBox.y/2 - CornerRound),0])
for (i=[-1,1], j=[-1,1]) // Pi case plate
translate([i*(PiPlate.x/2 - CornerRound),j*(PiPlate.y/2 - CornerRound),0])
hull() // camera PCB space
for (i=[-1,1], j=[-1,1])
translate([i*(CamPCB.x/2 - CornerRound),j*(CamPCB.y/2 - CornerRound),PlateThick])
translate([0,-CamBox.y/2,PlateThick + CamBox.z/2])
cube([CamScrewOC.x - Standoff[OD],CamBox.y,CamBox.z],center=true);
for (i=[-1,1], j=[-1,1]) // camera screws with head recesses
translate([i*CamScrewOC.x/2,j*CamScrewOC.y/2,-Protrusion]) {
PolyCyl(CamScrew[OD],CamScrew[LENGTH] + Protrusion,6);
for (j=[-1,1]) // Pi case screw inserts
translate([0,j*PiSlotOC.y/2 + PiSlotOffset.y,-Protrusion] + PiPlateOffset)
translate([-PiPlate.x/2 + (PiPlate.x - CamBox.x)/4,0,PlateThick - TextDepth/2] + PiPlateOffset)
cube([15.0,30.0,TextDepth + Protrusion],center=true);
translate([-PiPlate.x/2 + (PiPlate.x - CamBox.x)/4 + 3,0,PlateThick - TextDepth - Protrusion] + PiPlateOffset)
linear_extrude(height=TextDepth + Protrusion,convexity=2)
text("Ed Nisley",font="Arial:style=Bold",halign="center",valign="center",size=4,spacing=1.05);
translate([-PiPlate.x/2 + (PiPlate.x - CamBox.x)/4 - 3,0,PlateThick - TextDepth - Protrusion] + PiPlateOffset)
linear_extrude(height=TextDepth + Protrusion,convexity=2)

Raspberry Pi Streaming Video Loopback

As part of spiffing my video presence for SquidWrench Zoom meetings, I put a knockoff RPi V1 camera into an Az-El mount, stuck it to a Raspberry Pi, installed the latest OS Formerly Known as Raspbian, did a little setup, and perched it on the I-beam over the workbench:

Raspberry Pi - workbench camera setup
Raspberry Pi – workbench camera setup

The toothbrush head has a convenient pair of neodymium magnets affixing the RPi’s power cable to the beam, thereby preventing the whole lashup from falling off. The Pi, being an old Model B V 1.1, lacks onboard WiFi and requires a USB WiFi dongle. The white button at the lower right of the heatsink properly shuts the OS down and starts it up again.

Zoom can show video only from video devices / cameras attached to the laptop, so the trick is to make video from the RPi look like it’s coming from a local laptop device.

Start by exporting video from the Raspberry Pi:

raspivid --nopreview -t 0 -rot 180 -awb sun --sharpness -50 --flicker 60hz -w 1920 -h 1080 -ae 48 -a 1032 -a 'RPi Cam1 %Y-%m-%d %X'  -b 1000000 -l -o tcp://

The -rot 180 -awb sun --sharpness -50 --flicker 60hz parameters make the picture look better. The bottom of the video image There is no way to predict which side of the video will be on the same side as the cable, if that’s any help figuring out which end is up, and the 6500 K LED tubes apparently fill the shop with “sun”.

The -l parameter causes raspivid to wait until it gets an incoming tcp connection on port 5000 from any other IP address, whereupon it begins capturing video and sending it out.

Then, on the laptop, create a V4L loopback device:

sudo modprobe v4l2loopback devices=1 video_nr=10 exclusive_caps=1 card_label="Workbench"

Zoom will then include a video source identified as “Workbench” in its list of cameras.

Now fetch video from the RPi and ram it into the loopback device:

ffmpeg -f h264 -i tcp:// -f v4l2 -pix_fmt yuv420p /dev/video10

VLC knows it as /dev/video10:

RPi - V4L loopback - screen grab
RPi – V4L loopback – screen grab

That’s the edge of the workbench over there on the left, looking distinctly like a cliff.

The RPi will happily stream video all day long to ffmpeg while you start / stop the display program pulling the bits from the video device. However, killing ffmpeg also kills raspivid, requiring a manual restart of both programs. This isn’t a dealbreaker for my simple needs, but it makes unattended streaming from, say, a yard camera somewhat tricky.

There appear to be an infinite number of variations on this theme, not all of which work, and some of which rest upon an unsteady ziggurat of sketchy / unmaintained software.

Addendum: If you have a couple of RPi cameras, it’s handy to run the matching ssh and ffmpeg sessions in screen / tmux / whatever terminal multiplexer you prefer. I find it easier to flip through those sessions with Ctrl-A N, rather than manage half a dozen tabs in a single terminal window. Your mileage may differ.

PiHole with DNS-over-HTTP: Revised

More than a year later, the PiHole continues to work fine, but the process for installing the Cloudflare DoH machinery has evolved.

(And, yes, it’s supposed to be DNS-over-HTTPS. So it goes.)

To forestall link rot, the key points:

cd /tmp ;  wget https://bin.equinox.io/c/VdrWdbjqyF/cloudflared-stable-linux-arm.tgz
tar -xvzf cloudflared-stable-linux-arm.tgz 
sudo cp cloudflared /usr/local/bin
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/cloudflared
sudo cloudflared -v
sudo useradd -s /usr/sbin/nologin -r -M cloudflared
sudo nano /etc/default/cloudflared
CLOUDFLARED_OPTS=--port 5053 --upstream --upstream 
sudo chown cloudflared:cloudflared /etc/default/cloudflared
sudo chown cloudflared:cloudflared /usr/local/bin/cloudflared
sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/cloudflared.service
Description=cloudflared DNS over HTTPS proxy
After=syslog.target network-online.target

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/cloudflared proxy-dns $CLOUDFLARED_OPTS

sudo systemctl enable cloudflared
sudo systemctl start cloudflared
sudo systemctl status cloudflared

Then aim PiHole’s DNS at It used to be on port #54, for whatever that’s worth.

Verify it at, which should tell you DoH is in full effect.

To update the daemon, which I probably won’t remember:

wget https://bin.equinox.io/c/VdrWdbjqyF/cloudflared-stable-linux-arm.tgz
tar -xvzf cloudflared-stable-linux-arm.tgz
sudo systemctl stop cloudflared
sudo cp ./cloudflared /usr/local/bin
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/cloudflared
sudo systemctl start cloudflared
cloudflared -v
sudo systemctl status cloudflared

And then It Just Works … again!

MPCNC: bCNC Probe Camera Refresh

For the usual inscrutable reasons, updating bCNC killed the USB camera on the MPCNC, although it still worked fine with VLC. Rather than argue with it, I popped a more recent camera from the heap and stuck it onto the MPCNC central assembly:

bCNC - USB probe camera - attachment
bCNC – USB probe camera – attachment

This one has a nice rectangular case, although the surface might be horrible silicone that turns to snot after a few years. The fancy silver snout rotates to focus the lens from a few millimeters to infinity … and beyond!

If you think it looks a bit off-kilter, you’re absolutely right:

bCNC - USB probe camera - off-axis alignment
bCNC – USB probe camera – off-axis alignment

The lens image reflected in a mirror on the platform shows the optical axis has nothing whatsoever to do with the camera case or lens snout:

bCNC - USB probe camera - off-axis reflection
bCNC – USB probe camera – off-axis reflection

Remember, the mirror reflects the lens image back to itself only when the optical axis is perpendicular to the mirror. With the mirror flat on the platform, the lens must be directly above it.

Because the MPCNC camera rides at a constant height over the platform, the actual focus & scale depends on the material thickness, but this should be typical:

bCNC - USB Probe Camera - scale - screenshot
bCNC – USB Probe Camera – scale – screenshot

It set up a Tek Circuit Computer test deck within 0.2 mm and the other two within 0.1 mm, so it’s close enough.

The image looks a whole lot better: cheap USB cameras just keep improving …

Raspberry Pi Shutdown / Start Button

While adding the usual Reset button to a Raspberry Pi destined for a Show-n-Tell with the HP 7475A plotter, I browsed through the latest dtoverlay README and found this welcome surprise:

Name:   gpio-shutdown
Info:   Initiates a shutdown when GPIO pin changes. The given GPIO pin
        is configured as an input key that generates KEY_POWER events.
        This event is handled by systemd-logind by initiating a
        shutdown. Systemd versions older than 225 need an udev rule
        enable listening to the input device:

                ACTION!="REMOVE", SUBSYSTEM=="input", KERNEL=="event*", \
                        SUBSYSTEMS=="platform", DRIVERS=="gpio-keys", \
                        ATTRS{keys}=="116", TAG+="power-switch"

        This overlay only handles shutdown. After shutdown, the system
        can be powered up again by driving GPIO3 low. The default
        configuration uses GPIO3 with a pullup, so if you connect a
        button between GPIO3 and GND (pin 5 and 6 on the 40-pin header),
        you get a shutdown and power-up button.
Load:   dtoverlay=gpio-shutdown,<param>=<val>
Params: gpio_pin                GPIO pin to trigger on (default 3)

        active_low              When this is 1 (active low), a falling
                                edge generates a key down event and a
                                rising edge generates a key up event.
                                When this is 0 (active high), this is
                                reversed. The default is 1 (active low).

        gpio_pull               Desired pull-up/down state (off, down, up)
                                Default is "up".

                                Note that the default pin (GPIO3) has an
                                external pullup.

        debounce                Specify the debounce interval in milliseconds
                                (default 100)

So I added two lines to /boot/config.txt:


The fancy “Moster heatsink” case doesn’t leave much room for wiring:

RPi Shutdown Restart Switch - GPIO 3
RPi Shutdown Restart Switch – GPIO 3

The switch button is slightly shorter than the acrylic sheet, so it’s recessed below the surface and requires a definite push to activate. It’s not as if it’ll get nudged by accident, but ya never know.

I’ll eventually migrate this change to all the RPi boxes around the house, because it just makes more sense than any of the alternatives. Heck, it’ll free up a key on the streaming radio player keypads, although I must move the I²C display to Bus 0 to avoid contention on Pin 3.

For reference, the Raspberry Pi header pinout:

Raspberry Pi pinout
Raspberry Pi pinout

I don’t know if I²C Bus 0 has the same 1.8 kΩ pullups as Bus 1, though; a look at the bus currents will be in order.

HP 7475A Plotter Data Sniffing: socat Serial Port Tee

Some hints and examples provided the socat incantation required to sniff serial data between my Superformula demo program (on the Raspberry Pi) and my HP 7475A plotter:

socat /dev/ttyUSB0,raw,echo=0 SYSTEM:'tee /tmp/in.txt | socat - "PTY,link=/tmp/ttyv0,raw,echo=0,wait-slave" | tee /tmp/out.txt'

The out.txt file collects data from the program to the plotter, the in.txt file holds data from the plotter to the program, and both files contain exactly and only the serial data, so some interpretation will be required.

With that in hand, tweak the .chiplotle/config.py file to aim Chiplotle at the virtual serial port:

serial_port_to_plotter_map = {'/tmp/ttyv0' : 'HP7475A'}

This is dramatically easier than wiring a pair of additional hardware serial ports onto the RS-232 connection between the two:

HP 7475A - serial port adapters - hardcore
HP 7475A – serial port adapters – hardcore

The adapter stack instantly become a custom cable, although I miss Der Blinkenlights.

The HPGL output to the plotter (out.txt) comes from the Chiplotle driver with no embedded linefeed / carriage return characters, as HPGL uses semicolon command terminators, making it one humongous line impervious to the usual text utilities. In addition, several plotter configuration commands have prefix ESC (0x1b) characters without semicolon separators. Each LB (label) command within the stream ends with a 0x03 ETX character.

While one could fix all those gotchas with a sufficiently complex sed script, I manually separated the few lines I needed after each semicolon, then converted the raw ASCII control characters to displayable Unicode glyphs (␛ and ␃), making it legible for a presentation:

head -c 1000 out.txt
LBStarted 2020-01-09 18:03:57.494617␃;
LBPen 1: ␃;
LBm=1.9 n1=0.71 n2=n3=0.26␃;
<<< snippage >>>

The corresponding responses from the plotter to the program (in.txt) are separated by carriage return characters (␍) with no linefeeds (␊), so the entire file piles up at the terminal’s left margin when displayed with the usual text tools. Again, manually splitting the output at the end of each line produces something useful:

<<< snippage >>>

The first number gives the size of the serial FIFO buffer. An inexplicable ten OW; commands from deep in the Chiplotle driver code return the Output Window size in plotter units. No other commands produce any output until the plot finishes, whereupon my code waits for a digitized point from the plotter, with the (decimal) 18 indicating a point isn’t ready.

All that at 9600 bits per second …

Raspberry Pi: Adding a PIXEL Desktop Launcher

The Raspberry Pi’s Raspbian PIXEL Desktop UI (not to be confused with the Google Pixel phone) descends from LXDE, with all the advantages & disadvantages that entails. One nuisance seems to be the inability to create a launcher for a non-standard program.

The stock task bar (or whatever it’s called) has a few useful launchers and you can add a launcher for a program installed through the usual Add/Remove Software function, as shown by the VLC icon:

LXDE launcher icons
LXDE launcher icons

Adding a bCNC launcher requires a bit of legerdemain, because it’s not found in the RPi repositories. Instead, install bCNC according to its directions:

… install various pre-requisites as needed …
pip2 install --upgrade git+https://github.com/vlachoudis/bCNC 

Which is also how you upgrade to the latest & greatest version, as needed.

You then launch bCNC from inside a terminal:

python2 -m bCNC

The installation includes all the bits & pieces required to create a launcher; they’re just not in the right places.

So put them there:

sudo cp ./.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/bCNC/bCNC.png /usr/share/icons/
sudo cp .local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/bCNC/bCNC.desktop /usr/share/applications/bCNC.desktop

The bCNC.desktop file looks like this:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=bCNC Controller

Set Terminal=false if you don’t want a separate terminal window and don’t care about any of the messages bCNC writes to the console during its execution. However, those messages may provide the only hint about happened as bCNC falls off the rails.

With all that in place, it turns out LXDE creates a user-specific panel configuration file only when you change the default system panel configuration. Add a VLC launcher to create the local ~/.config/lxpanel/LXDE-pi/panels/panel file.

With that ball rolled, then add the bCNC launcher:

nano .config/lxpanel/LXDE-pi/panels/panel
… add this stanza …
Plugin {
  Config {
    Button {

Log out, log back in again, and the bCNC icon should appear:

LXDE launcher icons - additions
LXDE launcher icons – additions

Click it and away you go:

bCNC - Running from LXDE Launcher
bCNC – Running from LXDE Launcher

At least you (and I) will start closer to the goal when something else changes …