With the advent of working and schooling from home, more people are turning toward video conferencing as a way to get things done. Using tools like Google Meet and Zoom, we can keep in touch with people across cities, time zones, and even countries and continents, making the world much smaller and allowing for collaboration in ways we never thought of before. However, if you’re looking for another great Raspberry Pi project, I can’t recommend a video conferencing station enough. In this tutorial we show you how to turn your Raspberry PI into a video conferencing station.
Here’s what you will need:
- Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi 4 is recommended, as its SoC is much more powerful and has a better spec, which should provide better performance in video conferencing meetings. However, most Raspberry Pis will work fine.
- External monitor (preferably with audio output)
- USB Webcam. You can use the Raspberry Pi Camera, which is quite simple to set up, but I would suggest a USB webcam. Given the plug-and-play nature of USB, you can just plug the webcam in, and it will “just work.”
- Headphones (optional). Audio on a Raspberry Pi is generally output to the monitor, but you’re welcome to use headphones through the audio jack.
- Microphone. This is required for video conference. it can be bundled with the headphones or a standalone device.
Setting Up Your Pi
To get started, you need to first set up your Raspberry Pi with Raspberry Pi OS. You are welcome to use any other Pi images, but the Chromium on Raspberry Pi OS makes use of hardware acceleration, which will make the performance of any video conferencing meeting drastically better.
The next step is to attach your Pi to the monitor and power it on.
Your Pi should be able to connect to Wi-Fi through the PIXEL GUI, but if you’re having trouble, you’re more than welcome to check out this guide on how to set up Wi-Fi on a Raspberry Pi.
Logging in to Your First Video Conference
Many of the following tools will simply be run through the Chromium browser that comes baked into Raspberry Pi OS. However, there are some native applications that will run on the ARM SoC on the Pi.
Zoom is one that you have to run from the browser. While Zoom does provide native Linux apps, it is not compatible with the ARM architecture. To join a Zoom meeting, click on the link, and when you’re prompted to open “xdg-open,” click cancel.
Then, click “Start from your browser.”
You should be able to hop right into your Zoom meeting through Chromium.
Google Meet works from your browser, so there is no application to install. Open Chromium, click the Google Meet link, log in to your account, and you are good to go.
For Skype users, there isn’t any desktop app for the ARM architecture, but you will be able to join a Skype meeting through your browser by navigating to https://web.skype.com, signing in to your account, and entering meeting information.
Jitsi is a free and open-source videoconferencing program that works magnificently for most applications. If you’re just setting up a call with your other friends or family, I’d strongly recommend Jitsi.
To join a Jitsi meeting on your Raspberry Pi, just follow similar instructions as above. Click on the meeting, which should look like https://meet.jitsi.si/*. From there, hop right into the meeting.
As you can see, video conferencing on a Raspberry Pi is extremely simple. If you take the time to gather the right hardware, and your web conferencing software will run in a browser, there’s no limit to the video conferencing capabilities. Just make sure you use a decent case with a cooling fan and heat sinks to help keep your Pi cool, as you don’t want to run into any issues down the road.
Make sure to check out some of our other Raspberry Pi content, such as how to USB boot a Raspberry Pi, this look at whether the Raspberry Pi 4 is a viable desktop computer, and how to turn your Raspberry Pi into an NAS with OpenMediaVault.