Using a Point Grey Firefly Camera with the Raspberry Pi

The long term goal of this project is to use a Raspberry Pi to take pictures with a Point Grey Firefly camera.  Ideally, this will take pictures at regular intervals using a python program or a cron job.

Here is how I went about this, and the instructions are laid out in a couple places on the web.  I’ve only added the things that I ended up seeing after I completed this work.

Setting up the Raspberry Pi

The documentation on the Point Grey website recommends Ubuntu 14.04.  I played around with this, and I didn’t have much luck.  I went with a straight Raspbian Jessie operating system, and that did just fine.  The Raspberry Pi foundation site has instructions for creating a SD Card image that will work reliably.

Getting Some Dependencies

This is in preparation for the FlyCapture SDK software.  You will need some dependencies.   These are documented on the Point Grey instructions.

In the terminal, enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get install libraw1394-11 libgtkmm-2.4-1c2a libglademm-2.4-1c2a libusb-1.0-0

Once you’ve done that, download the software from the Point Grey website.  It is searchable for camera type and operating systems.  I am using the Firefly MV FMVU-12S2C-CS camera.  I selected the Linux 14.4 ARM operating system and downloaded the 32 Bit version.  You will probably be asked to register on the website before the download begins.


Unpack the Software

When the software is downloaded it is in the Downloads folder.  Double click on it to extract the files.


Unless you specify another place, it will extract into the Downloads folder.  For proof-of-concept purposes, that was just fine by me.


Run the Setup

You need to copy some library files to system folders.  Again, this is in the Point Grey Instructions, but these are the commands.

cd ~/Downloads/flycapture.
sudo cp libflycapture* /usr/lib
cd ~/Downloads/flycapture.

You should see an executable file called flycap2-conf.  You are going to run it.


sudo sh flycap2-conf


I used the user name ‘pi’ for this.  Assuming you are using the defaults on the Raspberry Pi, that is probably the user name you want as well.  Answer ‘y’ to the questions it asks.  At the end you’ll need to reboot.

sudo reboot

Take a Picture or 10

This is where I deviated from the Point Grey Instructions a little bit.  They compiled some examples from the API libraries.  It is probably worth a shot, but I could never tell if anything worked.  After some advice from a colleague, I did something else.

cd ~/Downloads/flycapture.


I am going to run the FlyCapture2Test example with the following command

sudo ./FlyCapture2Test

firefly_7This captures 10 black and white pictures saves them as .pgm images.  You can list the contents of the bin folder and see that they are there.


Here’s one.


Use the FlyCapture GUI

There is a GUI that looks pretty interesting.  Making sure you are in the right place:

cd ~/Downloads/flycapture.
sudo ./FlyCap2

This launches a window that displays information about the camera.  Click OK and you get a live stream window.

You can take stills and save the image.


So this is step one.  The camera works, and it seems to communicate with the Raspberry Pi.  Now I need to take pictures by itself without the use of a monitor.  That will be another post on another day.

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