One of the things that attracted me to the Raspberry Pi from the beginning was their announced intention to make an add-on camera module available. It took a while but I finally received notification that they were in stock so quickly jumped on-line and placed an order.

While waiting for the camera to arrive I prepared by reading through all the camera-board postings on, studying the official documentation, and watching the installation video. By the time the box arrived I was sure I was ready.

Installation of the hardware was not particularly difficult though does require care to make sure the ribbon cable is oriented properly with the exposed contacts facing away from the Ethernet connector.  (The video spells this out very clearly.)  Once installed the camera looks like this:

Raspberry Pi & camera

Setting up the camera software is also straightforward. First, update to the latest Linux kernel and system software:

Then enable camera support by using the raspi-config utility:

You’ll need to use the cursor keys to select the ‘enable camera’ command and confirm that’s what you want to do.  Exiting raspi-config prompts for a reboot, which is required to alter GPU operations so the camera works properly.  Eagerly I waited for the reboot, logged back in, and tried to take a picture using the command line utility:

Instead I received a cryptic error message:

This wasn’t covered in the camera documentation and I had no idea what ‘vchiq‘ was.  Naturally I did what you always do in situations like this – google the text of the error message and see if you can find anything to help explain what to do.  Happily I came across a blog post describing exactly the same situation and with a fix, namely that the user must be a member of the ‘video‘ group. This can be accomplished as follows:

Eagerly I logged out and back in and tried the raspistill command again.  Voilà, the view out the window near my workbench as my first test image:

Test image

More to come…