Question: Can't access pi camera in Spectral Workbench

lukemcpheters is asking a question about general
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by lukemcpheters | July 08, 2019 22:04 | #20039

I've tried Firefox and Chrome, Windows and Linux, on two different laptops. Can't get my camera to show up as a selectable option. The only available option is the laptops built-in camera. I can access the pi camera through pi.local and it works fine, just not through Spectral Workbench. No idea where to go from here i don't see anything on the site that talks about this issue, any advice is appreciated.


Hi, thanks for posting your question. There are some answers here:

And our new Spectral Workbench Capture project is trying to address this question this summer in -- which I believe @jenjimah is helping out with?


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Hi, i think your message somehow got deleted? But i got it by email.

Actually the Pi camera doesn't connect to a computer by USB as a webcam in general, although we've tried to make progress on that via linux kernel modifications:

In the meantime, the software available at can let you connect to a Raspberry Pi via a webpage, and save images from it. We are trying in the Spectral Workbench Capture project to make this integrate with Spectral Workbench itself, but it's an ongoing project.

In the meantime, you can save images, then upload them via

This isn't ideal, but it's what's possible with a Raspberry Pi today -- hopefully soon the open source community will come up with some better solutions, and we're doing what we can to push that forward!

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Yes when you see the live webcam feed on pi.local, you're basically just accessing a website which is streaming the pi camera video, so it doesn't register on your computer as a plugged-in webcam.

For now I have been doing what warren said, which is just taking photos and uploading them to spectral workbench manually. But if you really want a live option without having to wait, one way to do it is by creating a "virtual webcam" out of the web stream from pi.local.

One software that does this is OBS ( It's not part of PublicLab but it is an open source project that allows you to use a window or a part of your screen as a live webcam, which you could then connect to the spectralworkbench capture interface. You'd just have to select your webpage with pi.local running as the webcam input source.

It's not ideal but it's just an option for now. You'll probably want to change the preview settings to a higher resolution on the cam settings (because the resolution for preview and capture can be different).

@jenjimah I also struggled with this and give your workaround using OBS a go. Let's see...keep you posted! :)

@warren has anyone tried to use the raspberry pi as the main computer, not installing the special Public Lab image but a different one, hooking it up to a screen and then access the spectral workbench over a browser on the pi itself? That should work, shouldn't it?

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