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Main website: https://zanzocam.github.io/

ZanzoCam is a low-power, low-frequency camera based on Raspberry Pi, designed to operate autonomously in remote locations and under harsh conditions. It was designed and developed between 2019 and 2021 for CAI Lombardia by a team of two people, with me as the software developer and the other responsible for the hardware design. CAI later deployed several of these devices on their affiliate huts.

ZanzoCams are designed to work reliably in the harsh conditions of alpine winters, be as power-efficient as possible, and tolerate unstable network connections: they feature a robust HTTP- or FTP-based picture upload strategy which is remotely configurable from a very simple, single-file web panel. The camera software also improves on the basic capabilities of picamera to take pictures in dark conditions, making ZanzoCams able to shoot good pictures for a few hours after sunset.

The camera is highly configurable: photo size and frequency, server address and protocol, all the overlays (color, size, position, text and images) and several other parameters can be configured remotely without the need to expose any ports of the device to the internet. They work reliably without the need for a VPN and at the same time are quite secure by design.

ZanzoCams mostly serve CAI and the hut managers for self-promotion, and help hikers and climbers assess the local conditions before attempting a hike. Pictures taken for this purposes are sent to RifugiLombardia, and you can see many of them at this page.

However, it has also been used by glaciologists to monitor glacier conditions, outlook and extension over the years. Here you can see their webcams, some of which are ZanzoCams.

Here is the latest picture from Rifugio M. Del Grande - R. Camerini, the test location for the original prototype:

ZanzoCam of Rifugio M. Del Grande - R. Camerini

And here is one of the cameras serving a local glaciology research group, Servizio Glaciologico Lombardo:

ZanzoCam of M. Disgrazia

Both of these cameras are fully solar-powered.

ZanzoCam is fully open-source: check the GitHub repo. Due to this decision of open-sourcing the project, I was invited by Università di Pavia to hold a lecture about the project as part of their “Hardware and Software Codesign”. Check out the slides of the lecture here.