Motion detection for focal animal research - scripts and camera suggestions?

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Dear all,

I'm happy to have discovered the CHKD scripting as it will enable new opportunities in my studies of wildlife. Up to now I have used CCTV cameras and standalone DVR's w/video motion detection (VMD) to study animal behavior in the wild.

The VMD works well since I have monitored a defined site, e.g. stick nests and nest boxes for birds (to monitor parental effort, see video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkvzfVjtaF4) and flowers (monitor flower visitors, see video http://www.pollinationecology.org/user-files/Steen_video.ASF). I make sure that the animal make up a considerable part of the monitoring frame (10-20%) to create major pixels change when the animals are arriving the site (this triggers the recordings).

I'm happy to see that there are several photo/video motion CHDK script available that might be a better option than CCTV and DVR w/VMD.

Recently I have bought a G9 to test different CHDK scripts, but I would be happy to hear your thoughts one which motion detection CHDK script that will be best for my studies?

I'm mainly thinking of two approaches: 1) parental birds providing food to nestlings at the nest 2) close up monitoring of flowers to register flower-visiting insects.

Also suggestions of camera models are also very welcome.

Regards,
Kes


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Offline reyalp

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For script, it might help if you describe a bit more how you would want it to work. You want to start recording video when motion is detected over a certain area, and keep recording until there has been no motion for some period of time?

What features do you expect to get from CHDK that you don't get from CCTV + DVR?

As far as camera goes:
Assuming you don't need super fast reaction, almost any CHDK port should be ok. Basic motion detection works on most ports.

I'd suggest creating a short list based on the non-CHDK factors like price, video resolution, zoom range and then post here and check the wiki and forum for any known problems.
Don't forget what the H stands for.

Thanks for reply.

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For script, it might help if you describe a bit more how you would want it to work. You want to start recording video when motion is detected over a certain area, and keep recording until there has been no motion for some period of time?

Yes, the basic that I could define the area of the detection and the sensitivity level, and keep recording when there is movement.

I have found following CHDK scripts:

http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Motion_Detect_Plus: works perfect for my needs when it comes to still images (photo), would be great with similar for video. I managed to run it on my G9.

http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/UBASIC/Scripts:Lightning_script_--_Fudgey - MDFB2013.lua: possible to choose between photo and video, I manage to run it on my G9 but I'm not sure if it runs properly. I have difficulties in understanding the settings. Would be great with a guide for "dummies".

http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Birding_with_CHDK - DaveCam Script: seems to be the best script for what I want, but it doesn't work on my G9. I assume that script could be adapted to the G9?

When that is said I'm happy to get suggestions of other camera models that might be more suited for the scripts above.

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What features do you expect to get from CHDK that you don't get from CCTV + DVR? I'd suggest creating a short list based on the non-CHDK factors like price, video resolution, zoom range and then post here and check the wiki and forum for any known problems.

The CCTV + DVR are quite costly, have relatively high power consumption, and takes more space (mini-DVRs is a good alternative but to my experience not so many brands have good video resolution).

Here is a list why I think CHDK might be advantageous:
1. Low price on the second-hand market.
2. High image/video resolution.
3. Powershot with extreme zoom range enables monitoring from a distance (i.e. less disturbance).
4. Low power consumption?
5. More flexibility (at least for those who know the CHDK scripting, doesn't apply for me....)

Although the cons might be:
1. Limited storage capacity, only 4GB?
2. Is it stable and durable? E.g. enable weeks of monitoring.

I might add more to the list.

Regards,
Kes



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Offline reyalp

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http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/UBASIC/Scripts:Lightning_script_--_Fudgey - MDFB2013.lua: possible to choose between photo and video, I manage to run it on my G9 but I'm not sure if it runs properly. I have difficulties in understanding the settings. Would be great with a guide for "dummies".
The mdfb2013 script comes with a file mdfb2013.txt which describes most of the options.

If you have questions about specific settings, feel free to ask.

That said, you probably will need to get some familiarity with CHDK scripting to successfully use it in your project, or find a collaborator who is able to do the scripting work.  CHDK is a lot of things, but "user friendly" isn't one of them ;)

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http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Birding_with_CHDK - DaveCam Script: seems to be the best script for what I want, but it doesn't work on my G9. I assume that script could be adapted to the G9?
It looks like there isn't too much platform specific in that script, so it shouldn't be too hard to adapt.

In general, it should be possible to adapt most scripts to any camera, aside from hardware specific features or bugs in specific ports. Many modern scripts written in lua are portable and run on most cameras. Older scripts and scripts written in ubasic tend to be more camera specific.

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1. Limited storage capacity, only 4GB?
Most cameras (except some ~2008 and earlier models) can use SDHC cards, up to at least 32 GB. Newer cameras also support SDXC, which can be even bigger. However, on cameras released before 2011, you have to use multiple partitions on cards > 4GB, which can complicate setup and transferring images.

A single clip is always limited to 4GB (or possible 2GB?) and often some camera dependent time limit.

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2. Is it stable and durable? E.g. enable weeks of monitoring.
CHDK is a hack, and the cameras were never designed to run continuously for weeks, so stability could be an issue. It should be possible, but you might need scheduled reboots or external hardware to handle power cycling the camera occasionally. There have been quite a few discussions of long term time lapse on the forum that may be useful. https://www.google.com/search?q=chdk+long+term+timelapse should get you started with some useful links.
Don't forget what the H stands for.


Thanks for reply.

I found the mdfb2013.txt and it is easier to understand the parameters  :) I will play around with the settings and might need some advice on my way.

Good to hear that it will be possible to use 32GB cards!

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CHDK is a hack, and the cameras were never designed to run continuously for weeks, so stability could be an issue. It should be possible, but you might need scheduled reboots or external hardware to handle power cycling the camera occasionally. There have been quite a few discussions of long term time lapse on the forum that may be useful. https://www.google.com/search?q=chdk+long+term+timelapse should get you started with some useful links.

I will read more about it and I will try to make a dummy battery powered externally by a battery pack and solar panel.

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Offline reyalp

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I will read more about it and I will try to make a dummy battery powered externally by a battery pack and solar panel.
http://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php?topic=10284.0 may be a useful thread.
Don't forget what the H stands for.

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Offline ahull

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Powering the camera for long periods and keeping out the weather are probably the biggest problems, in some respects the sophistication of the camera is of secondary importance.

So long as the lighting is reasonable  good and the subject co-operative then pretty much any CHDK capable camera will do.

Just for the record, I never did manage to capture the owl mentioned in the post linked to above, I did however use CHDK to get some very good shots of a purple sunbird pair building a nest on my mother in law's  kitchen window in India.



This is the female, and was captured with a CHDK motion detection script, the trick was to tweak the delay to take the shot slightly after motion detection, so that the bird had settled.

The camera is a second hand (ebay) ixy 25 /ixus 85, but avoid this particular model if you intend to shoot video, as its video capabilities are not very impressive.

EDIT: My mistake..  it isn't, its an ixus 105 (also from ebay) I just checked.
« Last Edit: 25 / February / 2015, 20:18:43 by ahull »

Thanks for links  :)

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CHDK is a hack, and the cameras were never designed to run continuously for weeks, so stability could be an issue. It should be possible, but you might need scheduled reboots or external hardware to handle power cycling the camera occasionally. There have been quite a few discussions of long term time lapse on the forum that may be useful. https://www.google.com/search?q=chdk+long+term+timelapse should get you started with some useful links.
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Powering the camera for long periods and keeping out the weather are probably the biggest problems

I see, I do think that 5-7 days is sufficient, but still it will require reboots? Wonder if something similar to http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Ultimate_Intervalometer is available for motion detection?




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Offline reyalp

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I see, I do think that 5-7 days is sufficient, but still it will require reboots?
The only way to be sure is to try it, but I'd guess there is a good chance it would run fine for a week at  a time. Over 24 or 49 days becomes suspect due to the tick counter wrapping.
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Wonder if something similar to http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Ultimate_Intervalometer is available for motion detection?
Not that I'm aware of, but the code could be a useful starting point.
Don't forget what the H stands for.

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The only way to be sure is to try it, but I'd guess there is a good chance it would run fine for a week at  a time. Over 24 or 49 days becomes suspect due to the tick counter wrapping.

I just order external a battery so I could power the camera for a long period, I will indeed try and see how long it works and report the results here.

 

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