Create a Spy Camera, It's easy and cheap!

Honestly, everyone of us, especially the boys, have thought to hide a camera somewhere at his home or in a toy, without someone noticing that it's really there. Knowing what happened when you were away from home, can be fun and sometimes interesting; the so called nanny cam.

We've all seen a dozen of movies in which they showed and used a spy cam, and this created the idea that we could create this by ourselves. Despite the fact that spying someone is not the best solution for solving a particalur problem, it can help in certain situaties; e.g. burgalary.

To be honest, I've tried it before when I was 10 years old; and I don't think I will be the only one. The idea was the following: "I wanted to know if someone would enter my room while I was away from home". The solution was that I've downloaded a simple recording program, which would record my webcams video stream. While recording I disabled the monitor, so that you wouldn't notice the computer was active. When I came back home, I stopped the recording, and reviewed the complete video file; genius!

Nanny cam

I must admit, reviewing the idea 16 years later, it wasn't that bulletproof. However the idea was brilliant: creating the illusion that nobody is watching you. I was and I'm still fascinated about cameras, because they can give you so much useful information; video surveillance. Unfortuntately I couldn't create such a camera system myself, because I lacked knowledge. Luckily that changed 3 years ago, while I was finishing my education, I started learning about image processing and artificial intelligence. This eventually forced me to create my own video surveillance application, called Kerberos.io, which is now used in almost every continent.

That being said, I will show you how you can build your own spy camera in the next few paragraphs, with a small budget and a little amount of time! Enjoy..

A spy camera

The idea of a spy camera is that it's tiny, so you can hide it everywhere, and that it consumes almost no power, so it lasts for a long period. To make this possible we will use the popular Raspberry Pi Zero; if I show this device to friends, almost nobody believes me that this will work.

Raspberry Pi Zero

The dimensions of the RPi/Z are as follows:

  • Width: 6,5 cm
  • Heigth: 3 cm


As you may have noticed the RPi/Z doesn't contain a powersupply neither a camera. It only gives us some computation power and memory (we can insert an SD card, which contains an Linux OS). However to solve this we can just use the 5V micro USB powersupply of our smartphone, and buy a Raspberry Pi Camera module which works flawless with the RPi/Z.

Additionaly we can also use a WiFi dongle, if we want to have real time access, but that is not required if we only want to review the information afterwards. When using the camera and a WiFi dongle, the dimensions will increase slightly, but it still will be tiny enough.

The price tag

To build a spy camera, you will need to buy following components; and it will only cost you around €50, really I'm not joking.

  • A Raspberry Pi Zero
  • The Raspberry Pi Camera module (v1.3 or v2.1)
  • A 5V powersupply
  • A WiFi dongle (e.g. Edimax)
  • Kerberos.io Software (Open source)


You can buy the different components from the online store you prefer: Amazon, Adafruit, etc. It really doesn't matter where it comes from.

Connect the parts

After you've purchased all the different parts, you can start connecting them: assembly the Raspberry Pi Zero with the Raspberry Pi camera, mount the WiFi dongle, and connect the power supply. You'll end up with something like this.

Raspberry Pi Camera

Install the software

After we connected the different parts, we can start with installing the software to our Raspberry Pi. We'll use the Kerberos.io video surveillance software, which gives us a complete and fancy video surveillance system. By using its super easy installer, you can run a video surveillance system in just a couple of minutes. The installation goes as follows:

  • Choose the version and board.
  • Specify your type of connection (WiFi or cable).
  • Mount a SD card.
  • Flash to your SD card.

Kerberos.io

Hide the spy camera

This is the most funniest part, hiding the camera so that nobody will notice it. There are a myriad of options available: a photo frame, a clock, a light switch, and the most retarded option, the bear. As I'm not that creative type of person, I've just killed my favourite fluffy bear for this tutorial. This is how it looks like.

Spy camera bear

The hardest part was to replace the bears eye with the Raspberry Pi camera. By scewing the camera board to a cardboard, it was a lot easier to position it and scew it to the bears eye. The idea is that if we would replace the bear, the camera would stay in place.

Spy camera bear

Spy camera bear

Spy camera bear

Spy camera bear

Finishing..

When we installed and hided our spy camera, we can power on the Raspberry Pi Zero. By browsing to the IP address of the Raspberry Pi, we will land on the landing page of Kerberos.io; you can sign-in with the credentials username: root, and password: root.

Kerberos.io web interface

Ater signed-in succesfully, we will be redirected to the dashboard page, on which we can see a live stream and some statistics. By selecting a day from the left side, we can browse through events of a specific day. The time slider will show you the active for each hour, represented by a colour from gray to red which indicates the amount of events that occured during a specific hours.

Kerberos.io web interface

Kerberos.io web interface

Kerberos.io web interface

So this is it, we just created our own spy camera by using the cheap and tiny Raspberry Pi Zero and the open-source surveillance software of Kerberos.io. Good luck, and please share your own projects! We're looking forward to see where you can hide your camera..

Hey, I'm Cédric a software engineer, who's motivated to broaden his horizon and to discover and learn new methodologies. With a huge interest in web technologies, artificial intelligence and image processing, I try to understand our mountainous world a little bit better.