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Quick weatherproof camera box.

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Offline ahull

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #20 on: 02 / August / 2013, 18:21:15 »
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Well, I've seen the owls a couple of times, heard them a few times too, but so far I haven't managed to actually get a picture of them. The closest I managed was a hedge sparrow. However, I decided to build another "Quick Weatherproof Box (tm)". So I added a few more pictures to the Google Photo Album of the new build.

One of the refinements for this one was a neat little adapter to fix the camera in place. I swapped a few of the parts of it  around to make it fold up in a more compact manner. This replaces the plastic box and duck tape of the original, and makes the whole thing much easier to use (and a little more professional looking). It also makes aligning the lens with the filters much simpler. No more accidental vignetting.


Picture of camera mounted on folding mount, behind 49mm UV filter and Polariser.

I have the makings of a third box here too. so perhaps flooding the area with them might improve my chances of capturing an owl. I suspect I am going to have more chance with the small tortoise shell butterflies (aglais urticae) that are currently swarming over the buddleja bushes however.


Lots of these around at the moment, and as you can see, they are much more co-operative than the owls.
« Last Edit: 02 / August / 2013, 18:59:53 by ahull »

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Offline bwh13

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #21 on: 02 / August / 2013, 19:16:19 »
Nice looking shroud / filter assembly. That looks like the way to go. I've just got a piece of glass sandwiched between some rigid poly pieces.
Will definitely follow your lead for my v2.0 enclosure.

What were the specs on your external batteries?

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Offline ahull

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #22 on: 03 / August / 2013, 08:49:54 »
What were the specs on your external batteries?

I was just revisiting that problem, I was toying with the idea of using a couple of these.

They claim to be 2600mAh which is not very much (about the equivalent of 3x NB-4L batteries (if we assume these are about 760mAh each)), there is also a version which claims to be 5000mAh (about 6x NB-4L equivalent). It is roughly twice the price, so two of the first variant actually gets you two solar panels and perhaps slightly more capacity (5200mAh) for about the same money.

I suspect however that the solar panel is not really going to be able to charge the pack in a realistic time frame (solar panel is only 0.7W, but claims to recharge the pack in 8 hours).

Currently I can use pretty much anything as I have a buck regulator module that will deliver a stable supply for the camera from a bunch of AA batteries or alternatively from a couple of LiPo packs I already have. These are similar to the one above, but higher capacity (an unverified 3500mAh but not solar chargeable).

Has anybody else had any luck with solar power?

EDIT: I took the plunge and ordered a couple of these to see if they will do the job.

I plan to modify them to output 3.7V... and add the ability to switch them on and off with some external trigger (PIR, daylight sensor, IR remote or whatever). They do look fairly cheap'n cheerful, but let me see what I can do with them.

EDIT2: If you are looking for higher capacity, you might also try something like this.... although I can't vouch for the capacity, if genuine, 50000mAh would be about the equivalent of 65 NB-4L batteries. Theoretically this would push the time-lapse ability of my Ixus 70 from 7 hours to about 19 days... I presume the capacity is therefore a little bit exaggerated.. but almost worth a punt for not much money.
« Last Edit: 03 / August / 2013, 11:40:33 by ahull »

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Offline bwh13

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #23 on: 04 / August / 2013, 19:34:42 »
Quote
EDIT: I took the plunge and ordered a couple of these to see if they will do the job.
Those look good.  The integrated solar panel ~~assures~~ that the components will play together nicely.  If you are using the Ultimate Intervalometer script with all the low-power settings, then you shouldn't have to worry too much about draining your battery before the panel can keep them charged.

Quote
EDIT2: If you are looking for higher capacity, you might also try something like this.... although I can't vouch for the capacity, if genuine, 50000mAh would be about the equivalent of 65 NB-4L batteries. Theoretically this would push the time-lapse ability of my Ixus 70 from 7 hours to about 19 days... I presume the capacity is therefore a little bit exaggerated.. but almost worth a punt for not much money.
50,000!!  Wow! That is one heck-a-va battery.  Even if you get the big boy and it's 75% of what they state, you've got a lot of potential picture taking to do.  It's probably worth the $$ just to see how well they perform. 

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Currently I can use pretty much anything as I have a buck regulator module
Did you make or buy yours?  Care to share?  I ask because my solar rig (that I'm building) needs a regulator.  I've found a bunch on the 'net, but am waiting for my breadboard and components to arrive in the mail.

My (version 1.0) rig is an Adafruit Solar LiPo charger www.adafruit.com/product/390 with a 6000mAh battery.  I've got a 6V 2W panel (also from Adafruit) that powers the charger.  Long story short: the when there is bright sun (i.e. high voltage) the charger shunts that voltage straight to the camera circuit which triggers a shutdown at the camera http://forums.adafruit.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=41409.  My solution is a low dropout voltage regulator (in development.)


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Offline ahull

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #24 on: 05 / August / 2013, 11:11:14 »
The buck regulator I am using is the first of the two I mention in this post.

If you want to play with dangerous toys, you might also like this. I haven't tried to duplicate it yet, but it looks more likely to give the kind of capacity we need than the "50000mAh" pack mentioned above, which I suspect is actually 5000mAh.

Edit: Furthermore a 0.7W solar panel seems a tad optimistic, but if true according to my back of the envelope calculation, it would only manage about 190mA in full sun at 3.7V, so it might struggle to keep the camera battery topped up (always assuming we can charge and discharge at the same time).   

Eddit2: The voltage regulator I have used should work in the scenario you describe.
« Last Edit: 05 / August / 2013, 11:36:56 by ahull »

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Offline ahull

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #25 on: 10 / August / 2013, 08:50:09 »
While waiting for the solar "2600mAh" batteries to arrive I thought I would tear down one of my existing USB battery packs to show you all what is inside, and provide some insights to let people hack them for better camera use.

The device in question is one of these.



.. which are available from numerous sources.
 
My particular device wasn't glued together, it relies instead on click fitting, plastic tabs, and can be dismantled with a thin screwdriver or knife blade, without marking the case if you are careful.


Click here for the rest of the teardown pictures.





The first thing to note is that the device uses the same lipo charger chip and mosfet arrangement as the NB-4L I spoke about recently. Those are the two chips on the right in the above image.

I'll add some more info later once I have had a chance to analyse what else is in the circuitry.
Feel free in the meantime to add your own thoughts.

One word of caution, don't connect your camera directly across the LiPo, use the +ve and ground plane rather than the -ve of the battery, otherwise you risk shorting out the lipo and releasing the magic smoke. In this case, that would be a *lot* of magic smoke, and some pretty flames too. Don't say you weren't warned.  :D


« Last Edit: 10 / August / 2013, 17:57:19 by ahull »

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Offline ahull

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #26 on: 10 / August / 2013, 17:23:40 »
What I have discovered so far. The "5000mAh" pack contains the following components.

1) The USB LiPo Charger IC with the designation SC9017S
Probably a variant of this SE9017.

2) The "blinkenlights" chip, unmarked. This is probably a common low power microcontroller which blinks a few LEDS and has an A/D pin to measure the state of charge. It could also be an off the shelf part designed to do the same job.

Pressing the "Power" button, simply wakes up this chip, to get it to blink the lights. The battery pack is actually permanently powered on, so sadly I can't simply hook in to the "magic power button" to switch the pack on and off, and thus control the camera.

3) An identical LiPo charge protection circuit to the NB-4L clone I talked about previously. This is also used in numerous other LiPo batteries, and consists of...

   DW01 Plus
  One cell Lithium-ion/Polymer battery protection IC

   8205A Dual mosfet
   Configured with the DW01 Plus, as per the DW01 Plus reference design.

4) Two PT1301 High Efficiency Low Voltage Step-up DC/DC Converters (one for each of the USB outputs).

Note: The PT1301 chips are probably being driven quite hard, as they both look to be configured to produce 1A at 5V, contrary to the label printed on the case, which states one is 500mA and the other is 1A

Furthermore the 5V USB outputs have a tendency to shut down when I attach a camera + buck regulator to them, if the battery is anything less than fully charged. Since the camera may well draw >1.5A at startup this is not a great surprise.

5) A LiPo pack, which *may* be 5000mAh, but is suspiciously unmarked.

For my next trick, I need to tap in to the battery directly, as I don't actually need the  5V output, since I can power an Ixus directly from the 3.7V of the Lipo. This will extend the usable output time of the pack (currently it lasts about 4 to 5 times as long as a fully charged NB-4l). In theory if the NB-4L is 750mAh, I should be able to get about 6 to 7 times the running time of an NB-4L. 

To do this initially I intend to solder a wire to the +Ve (red) battery terminal, and another to the solder pads on the ground plane next to the "power" button.  This output will then be connected to a suitable socket on the pack, and a lead run from there to the dummy battery in the Ixus.

As I previously suggested, soldering directly to the -Ve output of the LiPo (the black wire) would be a bad move, as we would be on the wrong side of the mosfets used to protect the battery against over charge and discharge.

A future enhancement would be to add some sort of mosfet switch, opto switch or relay in line to allow a logic level signal to control the output. This would allow a microcontroller, pir or whatever to switch the camera on and off. This would let me preserve the battery by switching off the camera when not in use. This should allow for much longer running times, theoretically tens or even hundreds of times longer. 

I think I may investigate using the same dual mosfet as it seems to be perfect for switching at low voltages, and is available for a few pence.

EDIT: I bought a bunch of these mosfets,  so watch this space while I figure out how best to use them to switch the camera on and off. It'll probably be week or two before they arrive, and the "solar batteries" will in all probability be delivered first. Judging simply by the spec. of the dual mosfets, it should be a breeze to switch them on and off with anything >1.5V.  They should be good for anything up to 20V, so 3v3 or 5v logic levels, from an arduino clone, or the output from a PIR should do the trick. Alternatively, the alarm signal from a digital alarm clock should also work.

If I can devise some feedback from the camera (switching on one of the LEDs being the obvious candidate), and OR the two signals together, I should be able to make an external event switch on the camera, and then let the camera decide when to switch itself back off again.
« Last Edit: 11 / August / 2013, 17:17:31 by ahull »

Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #27 on: 11 / August / 2013, 23:26:18 »
If I can devise some feedback from the camera (switching on one of the LEDs being the obvious candidate), and OR the two signals together, I should be able to make an external event switch on the camera, and then let the camera decide when to switch itself back off again.
Does the shutdown function not get you that with no hardware mods needed ?
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16


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Offline ahull

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Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #28 on: 12 / August / 2013, 04:07:12 »
If I can devise some feedback from the camera (switching on one of the LEDs being the obvious candidate), and OR the two signals together, I should be able to make an external event switch on the camera, and then let the camera decide when to switch itself back off again.
Does the shutdown function not get you that with no hardware mods needed ?

The external triggers tend to be pulses. I need some sort of signal to keep the power on, until the camera has completed its task. I don't want the lights going out while we are in mid shot.

Possibly a  simpler alternative to genuine feedback from the camera,  would be some sort of pulse extender (a cmos 555 timer for example), but this is not very useful if you want the camera to wake up, take the sunset/sunrise, then shut down after the light level reaches a certain threshold, or if you want a PIR to switch on the camera, but then to use CHDK motion detection to keep taking shots till no movement has been detected in a certain time frame. Using just the PIR would tend to keep switching the camera on and off, potentially while it was in mid shot.

Re: Quick weatherproof camera box.
« Reply #29 on: 12 / August / 2013, 10:30:29 »
The external triggers tend to be pulses. I need some sort of signal to keep the power on, until the camera has completed its task. I don't want the lights going out while we are in mid shot.
So you want to turn off the power supply as well as the camera then?  As mentioned above,  a CHDK script can turn the camera off on its own when its done shooting. 
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

 

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