Solar SkyCam - WeatherSense
Solar SkyCam - WeatherSense
Solar SkyCam - WeatherSense
Solar SkyCam - WeatherSense
Solar SkyCam - WeatherSense

Solar SkyCam - WeatherSense

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Solar SkyCam is a great addition to your SkyWeather2 weather system or to your WeatherSense sensors.   It provides a solar powered camera and transmits the picture to the Raspberry Pi.   The Raspberry Pi builds a daily TimeLapse video and stores the pictures on the Raspberry Pi.

Having a SkyCam in your SkyWeather2 system means you can keep the Raspberry Pi inside your house and don't have to mount it outside.   Both the internal Pi camera on SkyWeather2 and multiple SkyCams are supported at the same time.

How to Choose your SkyWeather2 Kit

Check out the buyers guide here. 

SkyCam Block Diagram

SkyCam can be used stand alone supplying data to your Raspberry Pi or you can connect with the SkyWeather2 weather station to get even more local environmental information.  You can even have multiple Solar SkyCams running on the same network!

And as always, easy to put together with NO SOLDERING! 


If you want to buy a 3D Print, you can find it here.


Articles about SkyCam

This is the way the SkyCam system works.   The ESP32 wakes up every minute (programmable) and takes a picture.  It then transmits the picture to the Rapsberry Pi using an MQTT reliable data connection in pieces (chunks!) that are reassembled and checked as the full picture on the Raspberry Pi.   The ESP32 then throttles down the CPU and goes to sleep until the next picture to save power.  Meanwhile, the SunAirPlus3  board is monitoring the solar panel and battery to keep things up and charged safely for your LiPo battery.

The Raspberry Pi then takes the picture and puts it in a MySQL database for later use and then records all the glorious data from the Solar Power system on SkyCam for later analysis and graphing.  More Data! More Data! More Data!
The Raspberry Pi then updates the included Dash App (local display) and every morning at 5am builds a new Time Lapse for your enjoyment (Excuse the lawn sprinklers going off in a few places!)

SkyCam Scanning the Sky
SkyCam Scanning the Sky

These are kits that are easy to build and require NO SOLDERING!   You can do this easily with your kids.
SkyCam is a great way to learn about modern small computers and about the fantastic Raspberry Pi by yourself or with your kids!

By the way, do you have interesting things around your home or school?  You can add multiple SkyCams to your system to see EVERTHING!

What is Included in the Kit?

This is the complete kit for the Solar SkyCam. Add on extras include small hardware assembly parts, a precut crystal window, a 3D Print and pre-loaded SD Card. Raspberry Pi is not included.   A 3.7V LiPo Battery is not included.
The SkyCam Kit contains:
  • SunAirPlus2 or SunAirPlus3 Solar Controller and Data Collector
  • 330mA 6V Solar Power panel
  • ESP32 base OV2640 camera
  • USB to Serial Interface Board
  • Grove ESP32 Cam Interface
  • HDC1080 Internal Temperature and Humidity Sensor
  • 2 -20cm Grove Cables
  • Short USB A to USB Micro Cable
  • Links to Full Documentation and Assembly Instructions
  • Links to all Source Code
  • Links to 3D Prints STL and Design Files

The Full Stack of the Camera Assembly
The Full Stack of the Camera Assembly

Inside SkyCam!
Inside SkyCam!

Comes with great open source software for the Rapsberry Pi, as well as all the open source Arduino ID C/C++ for the ESP32 in the SkyCam!  All of this  great data is saved by your Raspberry Pi receiving this data using the built in WiFi.  The Raspberry Pi stores all the pictures and information about how your solar power system is performing (this is GREAT data to look at with your students, educators!)  More coolness.   And these are solar powered!  No messy power cords. No plugs.  Hang it up in a tree!   Oooo.  And all that wonderful solar power data (solar panels, battery and computer power) are sent back to your Pi too!   More Data!  More Cowbell!  These units will transmit about 100m (~300ft) depending on what you have between the unit and your Rspberry Pi.  You can always add a bigger antenna however!

SkyCam works with the SwitchDoc Labs SkyWeather2 system and and all the WeatherSense solar powered instruments (Air Quality, Lightning, Earthquake Detection, Temperature, Humidity, Wind, UV, and more).

At SwitchDoc Labs, we believe in providing projects that generate great data and great learning experiences.   With the WeatherSense products, you build the units, learn how they work and then you can modify them with all the software being Open Source!

Solar Wireless SkyCam

The Solar Wireless SkyCam is a solar powered remote controlled low power ESP32 based camera that you build and can modify yourself.  We provide all the parts and the 3D Print STL models (and the Fusion 360 design files), so you can print the case yourself (optionally, you can buy one from us, but we encourage you to print it yourself!).

Oh, and did we mention you can have multiple SkyCams on one system to get a complete view of your local weather environment?

SkyCam Block Diagram
SkyCam Block Diagram

All of this software is included and is open source for you to learn from and modify.

3D Print Design

3D Printed Parts (Some Parts are not shown)
3D Printed Parts (Some Parts are not shown)

We provide the STL 3D Print files (and the Fusion 360 design files so you can modify the designs!) so you can print your own case.   For those without access to a 3D Printer, we do have the 3D cases available.   

What else do you need to use these kits?

Full Open Source Software that you can Modify

We provide the Python3 software for the Raspberry Pi and C/C++ code for the Arduino IDE. All open source!  The Pure Python software (and the C/C++ code for the ESP32) can be modified to add new sensors, support new cloud software and connect up to your own projects and software.

Local Displays on your Raspberry Pi

Included with the kit is the WeatherSense Monitor software (Python3 for your Raspberry Pi) that displays all your SkyCam information (as well as any other WeatherSense instruments you may have) in one handy place.

The SkyCam page on the Raspberry Pi
The SkyCam page on the Raspberry Pi

Local Picture Storage and Time Lapses!

One of the most interesting things that the Raspberry Pi does with your pictures is it stores them in an organized fashion on your computer (and cleans them out after 14 days - this is changable by you!) and keeps the information in a MySQL database for analysis (all the Solar Power information is also stored there!).   Once a day at 5am, it will build a time lapse video of all the pictures from the previous day and save the Time Lapse video where you can watch it, copy it, download it or post it on your Instagram!

Morning Smoky Skies over Washington State and SDL
Morning Smoky Skies over Washington State and SDL

Zoom in on Time Lapses
Zoom in on Time Lapses

But wait!  There is more.   The Wireless WeatherSense kits come with a full set of open source software for your Raspberry Pi.   You can download the software from or add-on a pre-formatted SD Card with all these goodies already on the card for a simpler experience.

The WeatherSense Raspberry Pi software includes:
  • All messages published on MQTT  (topic: weathersense/#)
  • Installed rtl_433 433MHz open source drivers
  • WeatherSense open source database program - stores your data!
  • A dash_app ready to display and analyize your data from all the WeatherSense sensors!
The WeatherSense software supports:
  • WeatherSense WeatherRack2
  • WeatherSense Indoor T/H Sensors
  • WeatherSense AQI Sensor
  • WeatherSense Lightning Detector
  • WeatherSense SkyCam
  • WeatherSense AfterShock Earthquake Detector
  • WeatherSense SolarMAX2 Solar Power System and Controller (Coming Soon)

Sending Commands to the SkyCam

See the software in either SkyWeather2 or WeatherSense software.

What You Can Change on the SkyCam Remotely

We have built in a protocol using MQTT that allows you to change a variety of parameters on the SkyCam without reprogramming the SkyCam (you have all the open source software to do that if you wish, however!).   We also provide the example Python3 software to accomplish these tasks. These  settable parameters are:

  • MQTTCYCLECHANGE - Change the delay between pictures in seconds - defaults to 50 seconds
  • MQTTSTARTDELAY - Change delay in seconds from initialization of camera to the picture.  This helps with setting the exposure of the camera - long delay, better high light exposure
  • MQTTTURNOFFBLINK - Turns off the default bright light blink before the camera is invoked.  Saves power too!
  • MQTTBLINKXTIMES - Blink the bright light X number of times.  Great for identifying the SkyCam units.
  • MQTTSETTODEFAULTS - Resets SkyCam to factory default
  • MQTTREBOOT - Forces the SkyCam unit to reboot
  • MQTTERASEMEMORY - Clears all non-volatile memory and reboots.
  • MQTTRESOLUTION - Changes the resolution of the picture.  Defaults to SVGA (800x600).  Can set any of these values:  QVGA|CIF|VGA|SVGA|XGA|SXGA|UXGA

- FRAMESIZE_QVGA for 320x240 - value 5

- FRAMESIZE_CIF for 400x296 - value 6

- FRAMESIZE_VGA for 640x480 - value 8

- FRAMESIZE_SVGA for 800x600 - value 9 (Default)

- FRAMESIZE_XGA for 1024x768 - value 10

- FRAMESIZE_SXGA for 1280x1024 - value 12

- FRAMESIZE_UXGA for 1600x1200 - value 13

  • MQTTUPDATEPARAM - Sets all the initialization parameters for the camera.  The default list is:

DEFAULTSENSORSTRING "0;0;0;0;1;1;0;1;0;0;300;1;0;0;0;1;1;1;0;0;1;0;"

Each location corresponds to the table below: