Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Michigan State University

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

This guide contains many resources on setting up and creating your first Raspberry Pi project.

Setting Up the Camera Module

Warning: cameras are very sensitive to static electricity! You should ground yourself before working with any microcontroller but especially if you are using a camera module.

What is static electricity?

If you've ever touched something conductive and zapped your finger, you experienced static electricity. That little zap can fry the circuit in your camera module or other sensitive electronics. Static electricity builds up in the air especially in dry areas or rooms with a lot of carpet.

How do you ground yourself?

You can ground yourself by touching anything that is grounded to the earth. Some common household examples are metal pipes, metal sinks, a metal desktop computer case, or metal plate covers on electrical outlets or light switches. Please note that some of these surfaces might be covered in paint. Some paints have insulating contents and others don't so it is best to find a bare metal surface.

Connecting the Camera Module

The camera module connects to the Raspberry Pi via a camera serial interface (CSI) cable. The cable is thin and flexible, be careful not to crease the cable or the connections might be damaged. The cable contains 15 pins on either side and those must be inserted the correct direction on the back of the camera and into the Raspberry Pi.

You can also use some webcams, however, many webcams don't have the drivers needed to interface with the Raspberry Pi.

Enable the Camera Using the Graphical Interface (if you downloaded the desktop version)

Now that your camera is connected, start up your Raspberry Pi. Once the Pi is on, click the little raspberry icon in the top left hand corner of the desktop and open the Raspberry Pi Configuration window. Next, click on the "Interfaces" tab and next to "Camera" make sure "Enabled" is clicked. Reboot the Pi.

Enable the Camera Using the Terminal

Open the terminal and type the following commands. Use the arrow keys to select "Interfacing Options" then select "Camera," follow prompt to enable the camera. Then exit raspi-config and follow the prompt to reboot the Pi.

sudo apt update

sudo apt full-upgrade

sudo raspi-config

Test the Camera

Enter the command below in the terminal. This will take a photo using the camera and display a 5 second preview before closing the window and saving the file as "test.jpg." If you do not see an image or get error messages in the terminal, click on the Camera Module Software and Troubleshooting link below.

raspistill -v -o test.jpg

Michigan State University