Watching your pets with a Raspberry Pi and a mesh VPN

Good Dog

Article from Issue 271/2023

A Raspberry Pi, a Pi-compatible camera, and a mesh VPN are all you need to watch your pets from afar.

You have a pet, but you need to be away from home for a day. Is it really worth paying for a kennel when all you want is to keep an eye on your pet while you're away? Of course, you could use a video doorbell service (like Ring or Arlo) and simply locate the camera device inside your home, but it seems like overkill to pay for a monthly service for something that you only need occasionally. Also, for privacy reasons, some people might not want to invite a streaming video service into their home when they don't have control over how the video is processed and stored.

On the other hand, if you have a Raspberry Pi, an Internet connection, and a Pi-compatible camera, it is actually pretty simple to set up your own remote access pet cam with a mesh VPN. Years ago, in order to get something like this to work, you'd need to open a port on your home router/firewall and enable port forwarding in order to allow incoming connections. That's a risky undertaking, because you're opening the door for anyone who port scans your router to find an entrance to your home network. Thankfully, there are free services available that allow you to host your own VPN using your Internet connection at home.

Setting Up a Camera on Your Raspberry Pi

The first step is to set up a Pi-compatible camera for your Raspberry Pi. I say, "Pi-compatible" because there's no single camera model that works with the Raspberry Pi. Therefore, feel free to find any camera that works with your version of the Raspberry Pi and fits within your budget. I tested my setup with the Pi Camera Module 2 [1], which has an 8MP image sensor and only cost about $10 online. In case you've forgotten, the Raspberry Pi includes a dedicated camera port directly on the board that is used exclusively for any of the Pi-compatible cameras (Figure 1). Therefore, installing the camera is a four-step process:


Use Express-Checkout link below to read the full article (PDF).

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • motionEyeOS

    Set up a professional video surveillance system armed with motionEyeOS and a Raspberry Pi.

  • PiCam Surveillance

    The new PiCam camera for the Raspberry Pi delivers image data with very little overhead, making it ideal for video surveillance applications. We find the bumps in the road you'll encounter and show you how to smooth them out with a few Linux commands and pipes.

  • A New Raspberry Pi Board

    The new board packs everything that you get in Raspberry Pi 3B+ in a smaller package.

  • Miniature Photography

    The combination of a web camera, Raspberry Pi, and simple software facilitates miniature tabletop photography.

  • Webcam Rescue

    If your new webcam doesn't work with the default software on your Linux system, try your luck with Guvcview or QtCAM.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More