Timelapse with fswebcam and avconv

I was growing some ground cherry plants in pots and it seemed like their growth was exploding so I wanted to make a timelapse video like I had seen on youtube to get a sense of their growth rate.

I decided to make my timelapse using fswebcam to take the frames, imagemagick to add a nice timestamp, and avconv (fork of ffmpeg) to combine them into one video.  There are simpler tools to capture the frames with but fswebcam has some very useful options which some people might need depending on their webcam, I’ll get into this later down in the code.


I have used these exact instructions on fresh installations of Ubuntu and Mint Linux on my laptop, and have also used them with my Raspberry Pi and it worked just the same.

If you use an original Raspberry Pi you may need an externally powered USB hub to actually use any decent webcam because it can draw too much power, if you’re using a Raspberry Pi B+ or a Raspberry Pi 2 then you can adjust a config file setting to allow your RPI B+/RPI 2 to allow higher power consumption on USB ports.

I am not an expert on this sort of stuff but you can read more about it here, the website gives instructions for the B+ but they also work for the Raspberry Pi 2.

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Move your Raspberry Pi system to USB in 10 steps

By SparkFun Electronics from Boulder, USA (Raspberry Pi - Model A) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Sparkfun Electronics / [CC BY 2.0]
Moving your filesystem to USB is a great way to improve reliability, speed and storage space on your Raspberry Pi.  If you’re running something that is writing a lot of data constantly then having your filesystem on USB is safer because it’s less likely to get corrupted or stop working with a high amount of write cycles.

This tutorial is using a USB stick which doesn’t require any additional external power, if you want to use a larger USB hdd you will have to also get a powered USB hub because you’re Raspberry Pi doesn’t have enough juice to power it.

I’m using Raspbian for my operating system and I’ll assume you know how to install and configure that yourself.

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