PinephonePRO camera working in July 2022

for the long weekend here in North America (Friday off in Canada, Monday off in US) had some time to again look at the pinephone pro.

downloaded the July 1 manjaro plasma dev image:

and also ppp-cam testing utility:

am inside, so a bit dark, had to set gain > defaults:

test pics at breakfast: all 3 sizes of the world sensor; did notice the lowest resolution is darker, so set the gain higher for a second version



Small, same gain as large


Do notice the small triangular grid on the large image; software or actual hardware artifact?
also a greenish tinge.


  • get the cli working with ffmpeg, v4l2-ctl and media-ctl
  • hook python up, and see about some image processing there.
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BirdNET-Pi in the city

installed BirdNET-Pi on a 4 Gig Raspberry Pi 4. Using a webcam with built in microphone I had lying around. The microphone is not really designed for wildlife recordings, but seems to work! It is sitting in an open window.

Above is an amusing result of my first day: A local emergency vehicle, with its faint rise and fall, then switch to faster siren, is picked up as an Eastern Screech Owl. The very thin clear line in the graph shows it is clear pure tone, and the even colour shows uniform volume.

It has picked up the birds I know do exist around my place, including some very faint Ring Gulls that fly over, way up high, 20m or more above the house! Most impressed by the microphone… and slightly horrified as to what else it picks up when I use it in a zoom meeting?!

here are the stats from this morning; anything before 4 am I assume are city noises, but I can attest that the Robins are awake between 4 and 5 am.

will leave running until I need my webcam back!

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BrickPI EggBot for Easter

Since was playing with the brickpi earlier, tried an eggbot:

as with most things, the software part is easy for me, the actual pen/egg bits are more challenging.

Found the “gear play” and some friction issues, the egg slipping in the holder, or the pen pressed too hard and pushed the egg out of the correct alignment.

There is some feedback possible to detect the rotation of the NXT motors, but my initial version does not do this.

Did make some easily changeable pen holders:

so once I can get the software/penup calibrated, should be able to make multicolour patterns.

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Raspberry Pi HQ Camera action shot

Have a Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera with the 16mm Telephoto Lens for Raspberry Pi HQ Camera watching my back yard. Caught a sparrow mid flight this week.

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MS Code Remote SSH + Pinephone PRO

got my python setup and running remote, with MS Code, on my laptop, connected remotely via SSH to pinephone pro.

MS Code has a very useful capability “Remote Development using SSH“. Briefly, it lets me use my favorite big screen/keyboard to run/test/edit code on a remote system.

The pinephone pro supports this!

my phone currently running:

> uname -a

Linux manjaro-arm 5.16.2-2-MANJARO-ARM #1 SMP PREEMPT Fri Jan 21 21:39:27 UTC 2022 aarch64 GNU/Linux

Notes on pygame

need to configure X display stuff; once you have a pygame test program that runs locally, and you try to ssh and run it, you will see error:

pygame.error: No available video device

have seen this before, need to configure the DISPLAY variable. On a “local” terminal session on the phone, you can type

env | grep DISPLAY

to get the proper value, then “export” it, on your ssh terminal, for me:

export DISPLAY=:1

usually this is sufficient; but I found also needed the XAUTHORITY variable.

the error I first saw was:

Authorization required, but no authorization protocol specified

on my usual generic ubuntu or raspberry pi machines I did not see this error; the pinephone setup uses a “random” name each time, so you need to look it up after each reboot, you can get it with a “find” command

find /run/user/1000 -name "xauth*"

may give a permissions error about subdirectories, if you are not root, but that is fine, it should find the file, something like:


the part after the underscore will change each reboot.

so then you export:

export XAUTHORITY=/run/user/1000/xauth_WUxldc

then you can run your pygame tests!

all of these steps could be put into a bash script; but I have not done that yet, perhaps tomorrow!

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Pinephone Pro arrived!

Initial notes:

installed beta10 on SD card. Speed of SD card makes huge difference. First use, was with the default internal image. Nice, fast. Then installed beta on SD card. Was an old one I just had lying around. SO SLOW.
so instead got a faster one and makes a huge difference. Once things stabilize, will want to put the image back on the local storage which is even faster.

did notice the drain. kept going down and down. and also mine would restart as soon as I tried to turn it off to let it charge, when plugged into my default charger. Finally looked it up. need a more powerful charger… I have an “official raspberry pi” charger, usb3 15 w version, link here. That one does charge the phone even when it is turned on.

Other stuff:
pacman install: htop, git, tmux. to start.
enabled sshd

works! connected to my older bluetooth headset, and just works! listening to a youtube video works quite well. using the default angelfish browser.

next steps?
try figuring out the camera, install python and pygame

update: by install python, I mean “my python“; default python 3.10.x seems to be present, I will be setting up a virtual environment, and collecting my favorite modules and arranging with poetry, for a consistent setup..

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Wombo Art

Came across wombo art on twitter (#wombo) and it is very cool!

here is a link to my first creation: Toronto Transit Raccoon

here is the image directly:

my Friday productivity is going to be lower than usual…

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iNaturalist site

have started to add nature photos to

my observations are here. Have been putting up older pictures, some from many years ago! So need to sort the list by “date observed” rather than date added to see them in the correct sequence.

Was surprised by how many different species we have seen, even within the city, and even our yard!

The larger mammals are the most fun to see; with the covid lockdown, there do seem to be more. Also there is some work being done by the local transit company (Metrolinx – GO transit), on a commuter train right of way, that had a lot of ground cover and trees. The work may have caused a few animals to migrate out of the ravine where the train runs.

Have put up some bird feeders in the back yard, which can be seen in some of the observations. The most common visitors are not birds, but squirrels.

So far just posting any photos that look good. As the weather warms, will expand and add more observations, plan on adding more plants, fungi, insects.

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over the pandemic, picked up a BrickPi3. We have an older set of Mindstorm NXT lego motors and sensors, not the newer EV3 ones, so the cpu is rather under powered.

initial notes:

  • initially planned to use a pi4, but reading the docs on power, decided to hook up an older pi3 I still had.
  • 8 rechargable batteries (NiMh) do not “quite” supply sufficient power 😦 . The system would start, and stop. Plugging in a monitor, I saw the initial color swatch, then some of the text, and the “power lightning” icon, and then it would restart… When plugged in an additional 5v adapter from an android phone, it then would boot and run. The NiMh batteries could supply power for the motors, for a short time.
  • found a portable android phone power pack, and adding that to the 5 v supply, with the 8 NiMh batteries was sufficient to get the “basic bot” rolling.
  • next project was not portable, dug out an old micro ATX power supply: FYI the Floppy/CD drive connectors have +12V, perfect!

project#2 the pen plotter from:
The Unofficial LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 Inventor’s Guide
(our local library has an e-book version on o’reilly)

updated to connect to the BrickPi3

The atx power supply is connected to the battery pack with some alligator clips; not too robust, but sufficient for initial runs. Using sharpies and highlighters to draw, and using regular laser paper.

Some initial runs:

calibration tests. Sometimes leaving the pen down for too long, or too much pressure causes the paper to catch and tear:

Will post update with some code samples (python). here is the brickpi3 repo

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Pinephone Megapixels vs cli ffmpeg

here is a comparison, a few seconds apart of the ffmpeg cli vs megapixels app.

not identical framing, since I think I moved the phone a slight bit between shots, but close:

just used the defaults for megapixels.

to my eyes, the megapixels is about the correct brightness, but the ffmpeg colours are closer, if darker.

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