I'm waiting for my mezzanine kit to arrive today so that I can continue with my PIIP training.  Unfortunately, UPS delivers in the late afternoon - evening so I've got some time to kill.


I have an M5 ESP32Cam that I haven't tried yet so I thought I'd do the normal - print a case and do a quick test.  This is a pretty small camera board - 23mm x 50mm.  The board costs less than $10 but you have to add shipping cost.


Back in December 2017 I had solar panels installed and the utility company installed a smart meter that is bi-directional (measures what I consume and what I return to the grid).  They read the meter via a 900MHz radio.  I knew they wouldn't allow me to access the meter directly, but I had hoped that they would allow me to access the data on their website so I could track my daily consumption (SMA allows me to track the solar inverter data on their website).  Unfortunately, the utility will only provide me with monthly data (might be possible they only read it monthly?).  I've been getting the daily data the old fashioned way - visually reading the meter.  I'm going to try using the M5 camera via WiFi rather than going outside every morning and I could also automate it to take data always at the same time of the day.  This camera has a LiPo battery interface so I might be able to make it standalone by adding a battery and a small solar panel.


Here's a picture of the meter:

Smart electric meter


Pictures of the M5 kit:


Comes in nice plastic box -seems to be a packaging trend (fewer damaged boards)

M5 cam plastic box


The camera side with the USB C connector on top

M5 camera side


ESP32 side with Grove connector on top, WiFi antenna on bottom, ESP32 is next to the antenna.  The heatsink is for the ESP32 - there is a warning about overheating with continuous operation.

M5 ESP32 side


I bought a 500maH battery that is approximately the same size as the board.

M5cam with battery


I 3D printed a two piece case.  It was quick because of the small size.  Looks like I had some contaminant in the filament (discoloration by the lens hole).

M5cam case


Camera Board in the case

M5cam in case


Battery fits on top (there is no battery connector on the PCB, so I'll need to solder some wires to the provided pads)

Battery in case


Lens side view

Lens side view


Connector side view

Connector side view


Hooked up to battery bank for test.  I may want to disable that bright red LED.

M5cam powered up


The M5cam comes pre-flashed with firmware that configures a WiFi access point which allows you to grab images from its webserver.  I connected my iPad to it for a quick test.  You can see the image of the Ultra96 on the iPad screen.  The image is flipped horizontally.  Can't imagine why they set it up that way but I'll need to recompile the program to fix it.

M5cam with iPad


The other thing that I noticed is that the image stream stutters (pauses periodically).  I'll need to look into that.  Here is a video with an example of the stutter:


I'll probably not get around to completing this setup until next January.  Lots of work left.  Need to figure out how to mount this on the meter and add the solar panel and hook up the battery.  And some software and firmware.  Will need power management and to protect it from rain.


Good enough progress for a Makevember project.......