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A Raspberry Pi with the camera module

MQTT server


  1. Take a picture on the Raspberry Pi

    The Pi camera can be controlled using a Python script:

    import picamera
    from time import sleep

    camera = picamera.PiCamera()

    camera.capture('image_test.jpg', resize=(500,281))

     The purpose of starting the camera preview and the sleep function is to allow time for the camera to warm up, which gives a better image.  The resize of the image greatly reduces its filesize, reducing the time it takes to send and receive the image.  In this example, a 500×281 image is sufficient, but if desired the full 5MP of the Raspberry Pi camera can be used.

  2. Convert the image to Base64 and publish

    Once the image is taken, encode the image as Base64, then split it into segments to publish.

    Converting to Base64:

    import base64

    def convertImageToBase64():
    with open("image_test.jpg", "rb") as image_file:
    encoded = base64.b64encode(image_file.read())
    return encoded

    In this example we will be publishing to the IBM Watson IoT Platform, using our specific device ID and credentials.

     import ibmiotf.device

    options = ibmiotf.device.ParseConfigFile("/home/pi/device2.cfg")
    client = ibmiotf.device.Client(options)

    When sending the image, we add some additional fields in order to identify it and make the reconstruction process easier. We will make use of this function that generates a random string to be used as the picture ID.

    import random, string

    def randomword(length):
    return ''.join(random.choice(string.lowercase) for i in range(length))

    We then split the data into chunks of size 3000, append some identifying information, then publish.

    import math


    def publishEncodedImage(encoded):

    end = packet_size
    start = 0
    length = len(encoded)
    picId = randomword(8)
    pos = 0
    no_of_packets = math.ceil(length/packet_size)

    while start <= len(encoded):
    data = {"data": encoded[start:end], "pic_id":picId, "pos": pos, "size": no_of_packets}
    end += packet_size
    start += packet_size
    pos = pos +1

  3. Receive and reconstruct image

    In this example, the image will be displayed on a web page in the browser. A Javascript MQTT client subscribes and receives the image data. When the data comes in, the image is reconstructed by putting together the chunks in the correct order using the following function. The image labeled “picture_to_show” will show the reconstructed image.

    function reconstructBase64String(chunk) {
    pChunk = JSON.parse(chunk["d"]);

    //creates a new picture object if receiving a new picture, else adds incoming strings to an existing picture
    if (pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]]==null) {
    pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]] = {"count":0, "total":pChunk["size"], pieces: {}, "pic_id": pChunk["pic_id"]};

    pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].pieces[pChunk["pos"]] = pChunk["data"];


    else {
    pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].pieces[pChunk["pos"]] = pChunk["data"];
    pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].count += 1;

    if (pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].count == pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].total) {
    console.log("Image reception compelete");
    var str_image="";

    for (var i = 0; i <= pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].total; i++)
    str_image = str_image + pictures[pChunk["pic_id"]].pieces[i];

    //displays image
    var source = 'data:image/jpeg;base64,'+str_image;
    var myImageElement = document.getElementById("picture_to_show");
    myImageElement.href = source;



Expected Outcome

A picture is taken from the Pi camera. The image is converted to Base64, chunked, and published, then received and reconstructed for display

4 comments on"Sending and Receiving Pictures From a Raspberry Pi via MQTT"

  1. Mariano Garrido April 20, 2016

    Thank you for the recip.
    We are building a prototype using a similar camera (together with a motion sensor) but we are thinking to use node-red instead of pyton code. Will be possible do you have any suggestion?

  2. BagusKesuma June 28, 2016

    What Javascript MQTT client are you using?

  3. deri andrian August 28, 2018

    Sorry, Sir
    Is it different when using a USB camera?

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