Hamster Party Cam

As you may have heard, the Boardroom at Pi Towers contains a wall covered in the poster competition entries from before Christmas 2013. We hold all our meetings in this room, and even run workshops in it during Picademy. It’s also fairly common knowledge that I have a short attention span, and that on occasion when I’m in the boardroom (I’m not going to admit how often in case Lance or Eben reads this!) I find my gaze and mind wandering over to that wall and I wonder if I can make any of those imagined Raspberry Pi project ideas a reality.

One of the most striking of the posters has the catchy title of Hamster Party Cam. Upon further reading, the designer of the project, Violet, aged 6, tells us that…

Hamsters are nocturnal, which means that they sleep in the day time and come out at night. This means that when you are sleeping, your hamsters are up and about and when you are up and about, your hamsters are sleeping!

Violet makes a convincing argument. We need to know what those hamsters are doing when we are sleeping. We have our suspicions, Violet and I, that they are partying… like animals (small ones). So with my trusty Raspberry Pi, Camera Module and Pibrella, I set forth to make the project a reality.

Violet's poster in situ

Violet’s poster in situ

Hamster Party Cam is designed to avoid interfering with the habitat of hamsters, as every pet owner has a duty of care for the wellbeing of their creature. It uses a reed switch and a magnet on the hamster wheel as a trigger that when detected by the Pibrella, starts an LED disco light show, plays an mp3 (hamster dance) to a connected speaker, and takes a photo with the Pi Camera module.


Hamster Party Cam setup

Not having an actual hamster to test my creation on was a bit of a hurdle, but I managed to acquire a hamster cage from Emma, our office manager, nesting material from the shredder, and a toy hamster from the internet, which Gordon lovingly named “special patrol group”. As you may have seen from twitter, the entire office ended up getting behind the project and going a little hamster mad. Liz even suggested getting a real hamster for the office as she was really unimpressed with the toy one! Here is a picture generated by the hamster party cam system:

Special Patrol caught in the act of partying with hamster party cam

Special Patrol caught in the act of partying with hamster party cam

If you would like to make a similar project to detect your pets movement and take pictures of them then take a look at our new Raspberry Pi Learning Make resource, Hamster Party Cam, here. Take it, remix it, and make it even better!