FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi – Windows, Mac, Android and iOS!

The last post about our HyperDoF refocusable image builder was our first about some of the research and development projects we do here at Reikan, but I wanted to tell you about another idea that we’ve been playing around with in the background – FoCal over WiFi!

Reikan FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi
This shows the Raspberry Pi with a portable battery pack connected to the Nikon D7000. A WiFi USB adapter provides network connectivity.

The Raspberry Pi

If you don’t know about the Raspberry Pi computing platform, then you’ve missed out on a treat!  It’s a very small (approximately credit card sized) full Linux platform with a 700MHz ARM 11 core as part of a SoC (System on Chip), which also contains a powerful VideoCore 4 GPU.  It’s also got 256MB or 512MB on board RAM, a couple of USB ports, Ethernet connector (the model B anyway), HDMI and some general purpose IO pins.  It has comparable computing power to a PC from about 2000 (although the GPU brings the graphics processing capability much more up to date to the point where it can decode BluRay quality HD video in real time!), but all in a tiny package that can run from a battery.  And how much does this super little lump of computer power cost?  Just $25 for the cheapest one (model A), but you’ll probably want the model B at $35 for running with FoCal as it’s got 2 USB ports so won’t need a hub, and also has Ethernet in case you want to run over a wired network.

FoCal over WiFi

To get the Raspberry Pi working with a camera is not trivial, but as we wrote all of the underlying camera control functionality for FoCal it’s been quite easy to port this code over to Linux.  We developed a simple network protocol (which we’ve called RNP) to transfer very low level camera commands and information in both directions, and have added a tiny USB WiFi adapter to give the unit WiFi connectivity.

So now we can connect the Raspberry Pi to a battery and the camera, wait 30 seconds for the system to boot up and when we run a special build of FoCal with RNP support the camera appears as if it was connected directly to the computer, but with a little icon to show it’s remote:

Reikan FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi

All FoCal functionality works – all the tests, and the Target Setup utility is shown here with the camera aimed at the screen so there’s a never ending copy of the image:Reikan FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi

The setup we used for the screenshot above is shown below – the MacBook Air is not connected to anything physically, but controls the camera as if it was connected over USB:

Reikan FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi
Running the FoCal Target Setup over WiFi

The screenshots above show this working with the Mac, but it works on Windows as well (see the further pictures at the end of this post).

What else can you do with it?

Well, when you start getting the camera working over WiFi with all the functionality provided by the SDK, you can do… well… anything!  You want remote shooting? Check.  Timelapse over WiFi? Check.  Capture on events? Yep.  And there’s no reason why you’re limited to a PC or Mac any more – any device with WiFi can communicate with the camera, like the Nexus 7 below, with my hand waving around in front of the camera:

Reikan FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi

Sounds cool!  Can I have it?

Not yet.  This is coming very much from our R&D work, and there are things to iron out before we can make this a viable solution to remote camera control.  At the moment it only works with Nikon cameras, but it’s not a massive job to get Canon support added.  It works well with FoCal, but Android and iOS support is very much in it’s infancy.

If you’re interested in this project – maybe you have a Raspberry Pi and FoCal would like to add the ability to control over WiFi – then let us know through our Feedback Contact Form.

The following gallery has a few more images in to show you what it all looks like:

13 comments on “FoCal over WiFi with a Raspberry Pi – Windows, Mac, Android and iOS!

  • Nice development and there was already wireless USB which died softly because nobody bought it. I can put the camera and target in a other room and sit behind the computer to run Focal or any other program that operates the camera through USB.

    Hope that the new SDK for Canon also will be including control over AFMA for the latest cameras so I don’t have to walk so much. 🙂

    What about Focal for Android so we can use tablets or phones to run Focal.

    Reply
  • This an EXCELLENT idea !
    No more wiring in a middle crossing the room or no need to buy a special long usb cable !
    When it will available for Mac OSX/iPad-iPhone, i will be one of the first to have it !

    Reply
  • im looking forward to see the final version and hope that i can use it whit my 7D and Canon utilities.. and my WIFI grib on my 7D.
    I have a conflikt now when connecting.
    I have to shut down the utilities before using Focal.
    The 7D can connect via the WFT Pairing to the local wifi and then to the PC.
    If you need a test person i can help to test.
    Kent Mossin

    Reply
  • Petr Marsal says:

    I’m sorry, but I do not see a reason why buying additional hardware for WIFI for Nikon cameras, when there is the Nikon WU-1a.

    Reply
    • Control from the Raspberry Pi offers a lot more functionality than the Nikon adapter, and it’s something we’d be able to extend in the future. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to progress this project recently, but we intend to revisit the functionality soon.

      Reply
  • Frank Del Vecchio says:

    This would be a very useful (and cool) project to continue work on…
    I have a Canon 50D that I will upgrade in about 2 more years to the 5D Mark III or Mark IV (if it is released by then) that I would just love to use with my Rasberry Pi over my Samsung Tab 3 or my Samsung Galaxy S4 cellphone.
    Make it happen please!

    Reply
  • Gary Funnell says:

    Looks like a great idea, however until you are able to fully control the cameras and make automatic AF adjustments without physical interaction I think this will have very limited use 🙁

    Reply
    • Hi Gary,

      Thank you for your interest in FoCal.

      It’s a shame we can’t do more to control cameras automatically but given the amount of control we do have FoCal is doing a lot of very useful things 🙂

      Worth checking the link User Assisted Mode and also the video linked from the bottom.

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply
  • Alfred Höhn says:

    Hi FoCal team,
    WiFi with rasperry would make live so much easier and allow to connect PCs (not notebooks) to the camera that are too far away to be connected with the camera that should be calibrated with FoCal. I think this is a reason not to use FoCal (even if one would loke to use FoCal with is perfect calibration) because connection to PC isn’t possible while too far away from FoCal test chart. Any updates when such WiFi solution is available? Or as an alternative: Just publish your software for the rasperry solution to be setup by users themself for Canon and Nilon cameras.
    Thank you and Best Regards, Alfred

    Reply
    • Hi Alfred,

      Thank you for your interest in Reikan FoCal and for providing feedback.

      Changes to allow remote connection of cameras across WiFi using something like the rasperry is something we do consider. Some of the code required we’ve recently written so it’s a step closer at least (no timeline/promises at this point!) 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Dave

      Reply

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