To ensure that all the software interdependencies can work, it’s easiest to start with a clean installation.

So, we need to set up the following:
  • Fresh install of Raspbian
  • PiTFT Setup
  • Python development libraries
  • Wiring Pi library
  • Wiring Pi Python wrapper
  • Lapse-Pi python script

Raspbian Setup

Format a 4GB or larger SD card (or microSD with adapter) and load it up with the 2013-09-25 version of the Raspbian Wheezy operating system. This guide explains how to prepare an SD card for the Raspberry Pi.

On the PiTFT camera guide (on which this project is based), it says that it’s vitally important to use the 2013-09-25 version of Raspbian, not the later 2013-12-20 release. However, the 2014-01-14 release does seem to work OK for this project, as we don't use the camera module.
Connect a monitor and keyboard (or use a USB-to-serial console cable), power the Raspberry Pi from a USB phone charger or powered hub, and work through the usual first-time boot configuration.

The following options are required:
  • Expand Filesystem
The following are very useful and recommended:
  • Under Internationalization Options, select Change Timezone and Change Keyboard Layout to match your region.
The following are optional:
  • Under Advanced Options, select Hostname to give this Pi a unique name (such as “picam”) to distinguish it from other Raspberry Pi’s on the network.
  • Under Advanced Options, select SSH to enable command line access from the network (helpful for further configuration and troubleshooting).
  • Other settings can be configured to your liking.
The following should not be used:
  • Overclock. This is a portable, battery-operated project and an overclocked Pi will draw more current. Overclocked systems are also more likely to corrupt the SD card filesystem. Do notenable this option.
Once the basic system configuration is done, you can also set up wireless networking if you plan on using this capability. This guide may be of assistance.

PiTFT Setup

Once the Pi is fully configured and on the network, work through the PiTFT tutorial:

Adafruit PiTFT — 2.8" Touchscreen Display for Raspberry Pi

Work through the Assembly, Software Installation, Touchscreen Install & Calibrate and Using the Console pages, at least. The others (e.g. Playing Videos, adding the shutdown button) are not crucial to the time-lapse project but can be done if you’re also interested in exploring these capabilities. Once you have a Pi that boots to a login prompt on the 2.8" TFT, you’re in good shape.

Likewise, the optional tactile buttons on the PiTFT are not required for this project. You can install the buttons for other things if you like, but the time-lapse software is entirely touchscreen-based.

Python Development Libraries

This is simply getting a couple of packages so our packages below will build properly.
sudo apt-get install python-dev python-setuptools

Wiring Pi setup

Next we need to set up the python to use the Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins. This requires 2 packages, WiringPi and WiringPi2-Python.

First we get and build wiringPi
git clone git://
cd wiringPi
git pull origin
Then we get WiringPi2-Python, a python wrapper for Wiring Pi.

git clone
cd WiringPi2-Python/
sudo python install

LapsePi Touch Setup

Finally, we get the LapsePi python script and icons.
Now give it a try. The software must be run as root (using the sudo command) in order to access the TFT display
cd LapsePiTouch-master 
sudo python
If all goes well, after a few seconds’ initialization you should see the Lapse Pi splash screen , Followed a couple of seconds later by the time-lapse information.

If this doesn’t happen, an error message should give some sort of troubleshooting guidance; missing library or driver, etc. This is why we recommend working through the TFT tutorial first.

Once youve got that working, have the Pi boot straight into the time-lapse software by editing/etc/rc.local and adding the following lines before exit 0

cd /home/pi/LapsePiTouch-master
Next time you reboot you should see the text console and then it will start the Lapse-Pi software.

This guide was first published on Jan 27, 2014. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Pi Setup) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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