Imran's personal blog

September 1, 2013

USB Camera on BeagleBone Black

Filed under: Uncategorized — ipeerbhai @ 3:14 am

Hello all,

This blog post is about the SparkFun cheap video camera on a BBB.  The Sparkfun part number is SEN-11957.


1. Angstrom build with Kernel 3.8.13 or newer.


1. Power the BeagleBone Black with enough juice to run a camera.   You should be 1A USB port — pretty much every modern laptop powered USB port.  If you’re using a hub, that probably won’t provide enough power.  Use the barrel jack and a 5V, 1A adapter.  In the alternative, you can use a cell-phone external battery like the Anker Astro Mini( this provides USB 1A power for 3 hours, roughly ):

2. Probe the USB port to ensure a connection.  SSH to your BBB, and run this:
You should get “Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0c45:62f1 Microdia” or something like that, along with other USB devices ( the on-board hubs ).

3.  Cd in your dev tree, check that the video0 device auto-mounted correctly

# cd /dev & ls -l video0
crw-rw—- 1 root video 81, 0 Jan  1 00:01 video0

4. Probe The device with the Video for linux subsystem pre-compiled into Angstrom.  Not every distribution has it, but Angstrom as of March 2013 does have it.  Earlier versions likely do as well.  It’s the version I tested with…
#v4l2-ctl –list-devices
USB 2.0 Camera (

If it’s the only device, you can send the -all parameter to get the camera’s driver and abilities.  My camera supports 640×480 video, 25FPS, using the universal video driver.  It’s a really basic VGA camera.  The specs say it can do 1024×768 SVGA — I think it can, too.  I’m testing it out as I write this blog post…
#v4l2-ctl –list-formats-ext
Returns — too much to type out/cut and paste.  It lists all available resolutions currently supported by the driver.

5. set the camera to 1024×768 video format.  The camera only supports 1 raw video format without any compression.

#v4l2-ctl –set-fmt-video=width=1024,height=768
Returns nothing.  You can re-probe from step 3.  It seems that this camera under this driver cannot do the 1024×768, but only 640×480.  You can also add the ,pixelformat=N parameter to the set-fmt-video argument, where N=1 meaning h.264 on a hardware encoding camera.


6. Capture an image.

# cd ~/
#mkdir Image
# cd image
# v4l2grab -x640 -y480 -n1


out000.ppm — download this file and it should be a picture…  Thought my own camera gives me a series of lines rather than a picture…



  1. Hey what happened to the picture? Why is it a series of lines?

    Comment by Tim — February 19, 2014 @ 3:10 am | Reply

    • Angstrom has a USB driver bug with some Cameras. No known fix exists. Use a Logitech camera if you’re using angstrom, or switch to a different distro. A lot of people are using BBB/Ubuntu for camera work.

      Comment by ipeerbhai — February 24, 2014 @ 2:35 am | Reply

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