Venelin Petkov Making things work since 1982

How to install a Raspberry Camera Node on ROS Kinetic (Raspbian Stretch)

Raspicam Installation Tutorial

In order to use the Raspberry Pi 3 camera v2, we need to install a third-party ROS node from source, since it is not part of the ROS distribution at the moment. The installation is not that straightforward using only the barebones ROS installation, since there are a few dependencies on other packages. Looking at the package definition package.xml, we see the following dependencies:

  • catkin
  • compressed_image_transport
  • roscpp
  • std_msgs
  • std_srvs
  • sensor_msgs
  • camera_info_manager
  • dynamic_reconfigure
  • libraspberrypi0

The highlighted ones are missing from the ros_comm stack, so we need to install them manually. The approach here is simply to fetch the missing packages and then merge them into the existing barebones catkin workspace. Lastly, we build and test raspicam_node.

1. Install all dependencies

Fetch the package information for all the missing packages and their ROS dependencies:

rosinstall_generator compressed_image_transport --rosdistro kinetic --deps --wet-only --tar > kinetic-compressed_image_transport-wet.rosinstall

rosinstall_generator camera_info_manager --rosdistro kinetic --deps --wet-only --tar > kinetic-camera_info_manager-wet.rosinstall

rosinstall_generator dynamic_reconfigure --rosdistro kinetic --deps --wet-only --tar > kinetic-dynamic_reconfigure-wet.rosinstall

Now we need to fetch the sources and put them to the ~/ros_catkin_ws/src where all the other packages from the barebone installation are located:

wstool merge -t src kinetic-compressed_image_transport-wet.rosinstall
wstool merge -t src kinetic-camera_info_manager-wet.rosinstall
wstool merge -t src kinetic-dynamic_reconfigure-wet.rosinstall
wstool update -t src

Fetch any additional Raspbian libraries that are needed

rosdep install --from-paths src --ignore-src --rosdistro kinetic -y

Build the packages. Please, note that this takes a very long time, so it might be a good idea to build it overnight in a tmux window.

./src/catkin/bin/catkin_make_isolated -j1 --install --install-space /opt/ros/kinetic -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release

It turns out that raspicam_node depends on the raspberry pi library, so we also install the headers:

sudo apt-get install libraspberrypi-dev
2. Build the raspicam node

Check out the source code for raspicam_node from Github in the workspace src directory:

cd ~/ros_catkin_ws
git clone

Install other library dependencies automatically:

rosdep install --from-paths src --ignore-src --rosdistro kinetic -y

Finally, build and install raspicam_node. It should be possible to do this more specifically with --pkg raspicam and save some time, but this hasn’t been tried yet. Two compilation processes -j2 are a safe option here:

./src/catkin/bin/catkin_make_isolated -j2 --install --install-space /opt/ros/kinetic -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release
3. Test the camera

Now that we have the camera node installed, we can test the Raspberry camera if we haven’t done that yet. It needs to be enabled with raspi-config from the interface menu:

sudo raspi-config

Take a test shot

raspistill -o test.jpg

Everything is fine, so we can test the raspicam node.

4. Test raspicam_node

Start a new tmux session and source the setup file in every relevant window

source /opt/ros/kinetic/setup.bash

Open a new window for roscore and start it there. Find the launch definitions in ~/ros_catkin_ws/src/raspicam_node/launch/ and go there:

cd ~/ros_catkin_ws/src/raspicam_node/launch/

Start raspicam_node with the launch configuration of choice:

roslaunch camerav2_1280x960.launch

A simple topic check shows us that the node is active:

[email protected]:~$ rostopic list