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A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.

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A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« on: 03 / December / 2012, 21:03:29 »
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Evening guys, at the moment my Mum is borrowing a friends "Animal Camera", basically all it is, is a camera with motion detection and a good flash in a rock-like casing. As Christmas is coming up, I figured I could build one for her and give it to her as a present as it's something she's generally passionate about. I'm a little worried about the motion detection during night, is it sufficient to catch animals such as wallabies/possums/foxes moving around during the night? What would be a good, cheap camera? It doesn't need to produce amazing images, just have reasonable night photos, or a good flash, and obviously, the less I spend, the better.

I was also thinking of mounting a solar panel on top, as a secondary power source, I'm not sure how I'd make it work, has anyone made anything like this before? I'm a novice when it comes to electronics and electrical systems, so I might not bother, it's not too important anyway, but if there's a tutorial somewhere a link to that would be amazing.

Also, I was thinking I'd need to build an enclosure for it too, would thickish wood be sufficient do you think? If I silicone the gaps, and give it a paint, would that be enough to keep the water out of it? Or I could buy a silicone/waterproof case for it, depending on the camera I end up with I s'pose.

How do cameras generally handle heat? I know it's a pretty open question, and every camera's different, but as a whole, do they tend to not like higher temperatures? I'm in Australia, and  higher temperatures are pretty common. The one Mum's using seems to malfunction if it's ~25 degrees Celsius outside, and that basically means that it only works during the night, and even then some nights it's still to warm and it takes pictures constantly until the SD-card is full.

So yeah, basically, I want a reasonably durable camera that'll take CHDK, and I'm not sure if this has been spoken about on the forums here (I tried searching, but to no avail), but I'd like to mount a solar panel on it, and if there's a tutorial somewhere that'd be great, and will a camera with CHDK be able to see movement at night? As that'd be its primary purpose, if not, I could probably mount a solar light on top.

Thanks guys :D, and sorry for the long post, I wanted to cover everything I can in one post. And I'm going to apologize in advance if this is in the wrong section of the forums. :-[

Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #1 on: 03 / December / 2012, 21:39:29 »
I have one of those specialized "animal cameras" too.  They are designed for what they do - take a picture to prove an animal walked by - but the image quality is frankly terrible.

However, the motion detection in a Canon P&S using CHDK is not likely to see much of anything at night so I don't know if its really a good replacement.

Your other biggest issue will be battery life. Camera batteries are good for four to 12 hours depending on what you are doing - and motion detection will definitely be on the low end of that range.  Heat is another issue although I would expect to be able to do a lot better than 25 deg C.

So if  you are thinking about an outdoor enclosure anyway, here's the best thread I've seen :
http://chdk.setepontos.com/index.php?topic=7743.0
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #2 on: 03 / December / 2012, 22:07:48 »
I also find that it's either too close, and you can't see anything but a white flash circle, or it's too far away and you can't see anything. I could probably install a solar light on top, they're usually dirt cheap and while they aren't extremely bright, they should be sufficient. I've owned a few Canons in the past, and they've all had excellent low-light pictures, but that might have changed since my last one died, but I wouldn't be surprised if they've changed, as electronics so often do.

Heat I'm not too worried about at the moment. As long as everything else works, heat is something I can deal with. Seeing as its mainly going to be operated at night, I don't think it'll be as much of a problem as I'm making it out to be. 

With regards to power, there's a plethora of other threads on this site with regards to external power supplies, and DIY Battery packs, would this suffice, do you think? I wouldn't expect it to stay outside for more than 2-3 days without being taken inside to take the pictures off, anyway. And if the Battery pack had rechargeable batteries placed in it, then it'd probably be recharged every few days anyway, if I can get it to last that long. My housemate is an electrical engineer, so I could probably get him to help, if I could work out a way to run a solar panel to charge the batteries during the day, I could probably get a reasonable amount of time running before it dies.

The alternative is to buy a prebuilt one, and judging by quality of pictures, of the one she's using at the moment, and the $500 pricetag her friend paid for it, I don't really want to have to resort to that.

Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #3 on: 03 / December / 2012, 22:28:50 »
I could probably install a solar light on top, they're usually dirt cheap and while they aren't extremely bright, they should be sufficient.
That might work but I've never owned one that would stay on all night. Maybe I should stop buying the cheap ones.

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With regards to power, there's a plethora of other threads on this site with regards to external power supplies, and DIY Battery packs, would this suffice, do you think?
Yes.  When I get around to working on mine again, I'm thinking a car battery might be a good place to start.

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I wouldn't expect it to stay outside for more than 2-3 days without being taken inside to take the pictures off, anyway. And if the Battery pack had rechargeable batteries placed in it, then it'd probably be recharged every few days anyway, if I can get it to last that long. My housemate is an electrical engineer, so I could probably get him to help, if I could work out a way to run a solar panel to charge the batteries during the day, I could probably get a reasonable amount of time running before it dies.
This sounds good but I suspect its starting to get expensive.
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16


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Offline reyalp

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Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #4 on: 03 / December / 2012, 22:36:33 »
Evening guys, at the moment my Mum is borrowing a friends "Animal Camera", basically all it is, is a camera with motion detection and a good flash in a rock-like casing. As Christmas is coming up, I figured I could build one for her and give it to her as a present as it's something she's generally passionate about.
Making something like this work reliably with CHDK will likely be a significant project. Unless you like the project aspect for it's own sake or put very little value on your own time, you are probably better of buying a purpose built camera trap. While the cheap ones undoubtedly have bad image quality, I'm sure there's decent ones at some price point (you see some very nice camera trap images in places like Nat geo etc.)
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I'm a little worried about the motion detection during night, is it sufficient to catch animals such as wallabies/possums/foxes moving around during the night?
Probably not. It might be work under a full moon out in the open, but in general it's not going to work well at night without illumination. You could hack out the IR filter and build your own IR illumination, I suppose, but that's non-trivial, requires more battery, and would affect the color of the resulting images. If you have power and don't might having visible light on it, you could just run a light all the time.

An alternative way to do this would be to build an external trigger that uses the USB remote system. This would require a lot more electronics though.
Quote
I was also thinking of mounting a solar panel on top, as a secondary power source, I'm not sure how I'd make it work, has anyone made anything like this before? I'm a novice when it comes to electronics and electrical systems, so I might not bother, it's not too important anyway, but if there's a tutorial somewhere a link to that would be amazing.
A simple (but not compact or efficient) way to do this would be to get an car/rv solar trickle charger (like http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50012-1-8-Watt-Battery-Maintainer/dp/B0006JO0KG/ref=pd_sbs_auto_2 ), a 12 volt lead acid battery (car, motorcyle, lawn tractor etc) and a 12 volt to whatever your camera uses adapter. A system like this could be used for lighting too, although you might find one of those trickle chargers was not enough.

Quote
Also, I was thinking I'd need to build an enclosure for it too, would thickish wood be sufficient do you think? If I silicone the gaps, and give it a paint, would that be enough to keep the water out of it?
That depends on your construction ability and conditions, but it certainly should be possible. One thing you still might need to worry about is condensation.
Quote
Or I could buy a silicone/waterproof case for it, depending on the camera I end up with I s'pose.
I have used a cheap waterproof bag like http://www.amazon.com/DicaPac-WP410-10-5x16-0cm-Waterproof-Digital/dp/B001C20816/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354591111&sr=1-1 for use in a dirty environment. The optical quality isn't terrible, but overheating and condensation can be an issue.
Quote
How do cameras generally handle heat? I know it's a pretty open question, and every camera's different, but as a whole, do they tend to not like higher temperatures? I'm in Australia, and  higher temperatures are pretty common. The one Mum's using seems to malfunction if it's ~25 degrees Celsius outside, and that basically means that it only works during the night, and even then some nights it's still to warm and it takes pictures constantly until the SD-card is full.
The cameras should be fine quite a bit over 25c, (canon specs include a temperature range, e.g. http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/support/consumer/digital_cameras/other_powershot/powershot_sx10_is#Specifications says up to 40c ) but remember they generate quite a bit of heat on their own, so sitting in a sealed enclosure could get a lot hotter. Direct sun on the enclosure could also be a big problem. I'm pretty sure I had my A540 shut down due to over heating using the above mentioned bag in the desert, but I'm not sure at what temperature.

Note, amazon links above are just for illustration of the general kind of thing I'm talking about, I'm not recommending those specific items.
Don't forget what the H stands for.

Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #5 on: 03 / December / 2012, 23:42:30 »
Quote
Making something like this work reliably with CHDK will likely be a significant project. Unless you like the project aspect for it's own sake or put very little value on your own time, you are probably better of buying a purpose built camera trap. While the cheap ones undoubtedly have bad image quality, I'm sure there's decent ones at some price point (you see some very nice camera trap images in places like Nat geo etc.)

I have a few months off, so anything to keep my mind going is good at the moment, and if I finish with something tangibly helpful, all the better.

Quote
Probably not. It might be work under a full moon out in the open, but in general it's not going to work well at night without illumination. You could hack out the IR filter and build your own IR illumination, I suppose, but that's non-trivial, requires more battery, and would affect the color of the resulting images. If you have power and don't might having visible light on it, you could just run a light all the time.

Like I said before, I've found that cheap solar LED lights tend to work all night, and while they're not the brightest lights, they do light up my driveway pretty well.

Quote
A simple (but not compact or efficient) way to do this would be to get an car/rv solar trickle charger (like http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50012-1-8-Watt-Battery-Maintainer/dp/B0006JO0KG/ref=pd_sbs_auto_2 ), a 12 volt lead acid battery (car, motorcyle, lawn tractor etc) and a 12 volt to whatever your camera uses adapter.


I have a car battery downstairs, but it might be a bit heavy, the primary user will be a reasonably elderly lady living on a hill. I was thinking more along the lines of a string of rechargeable AA batteries attached to http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=ZM9091&form=CAT2&SUBCATID=1004 I don't know if this is even possible, I'd have to ask someone more knowledgeable in Electrical circuits.

Quote
That depends on your construction ability and conditions, but it certainly should be possible. One thing you still might need to worry about is condensation.

I have used a cheap waterproof bag like http://www.amazon.com/DicaPac-WP410-10-5x16-0cm-Waterproof-Digital/dp/B001C20816/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354591111&sr=1-1 for use in a dirty environment. The optical quality isn't terrible, but overheating and condensation can be an issue.

I'm not too worried about the enclosure, I should have a way to avoid condensation and heating issues. And as it's just an enclosure, I can change it as I see fit when I have it running.

Quote
The cameras should be fine quite a bit over 25c, (canon specs include a temperature range, e.g. http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/support/consumer/digital_cameras/other_powershot/powershot_sx10_is#Specifications says up to 40c ) but remember they generate quite a bit of heat on their own, so sitting in a sealed enclosure could get a lot hotter. Direct sun on the enclosure could also be a big problem. I'm pretty sure I had my A540 shut down due to over heating using the above mentioned bag in the desert, but I'm not sure at what temperature.

It's going to be in a forest, so the sunlight shouldn't be an issue. It's more the Australian climate, today it's 41c, and 85% humidity. That being said, it certainly wouldn't be left out on days like this, especially as its primarily for seeing what's out at night.

Thanks for the links, too. I might just go for the camera bag idea, if they don't particularly affect image quality, it's as good of an option as an enclosure, really. I'm pretty content on doing this, as it's something to pass the time and it'll make a nifty gift if I can get it working. And at worst, I have myself a new camera, which I could resell on Ebay anyway.

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Offline lapser

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Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #6 on: 04 / December / 2012, 00:59:53 »
I've installed quite a few of those motion detector outdoor lights. They're passive infrared triggered, so they don't take much power. You could run them off a 12 volt deep cycle RV battery with 120V inverter (in the US), and it would easily last all night.

A chdk camera could be powered off the same battery, ready to start recording when it sensed that the lights went on. That should be pretty easy to sense, I think. You could even record a movie, probably of the animal's butt in the distance running away.
EOS-M3_120f / SX50_100b / SX260_101a / G1X_100g / D20_100b
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Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #7 on: 04 / December / 2012, 04:31:34 »
I live in Australia; therefore the references I make is to locally available products. I have no doubts that the same principle applies to other countries using different voltages.

http://lighting-store.com.au/lightshop/images/cs1015w_140_deg_manual_overide_bypass_pir_sensor.jpg

A number of suppliers in Australia sell a similar unit displayed in the photo.

All the PIR units I have examined are manufactured in China.

I have dismantled a few units over the years and they all have many things in common. I believe that they all come out of the same factory.

Australia used 240 volts 50Hz AC. I have successfully converted the units from 240 volt AC operation to 12 volt DC operation. The voltage drop from 240 volts AC is via a resistor capacitor network to a full wave bridge rectifier. The relay coil is 12 volt DC.

If the relay is removed the unit will operate reliably on 5 volts DC, permitting the PIR unit to directly drive the CHDK USB trigger.

Alternatively; 6 volt pin for pin relays are readily available from electronics suppliers. The relay output could be used to drive a 12 volt halogen lighting system. The six volt coil drive could be connected in series with one or two diodes to give the voltage drop required to drive the CHDK USB trigger.

With some ingenuity, using locally available components, a relatively cost effective 12 volt DC unit could be built.

The majority of PIR sensor units on the market use a similar circuit diagram.

http://www.circuitstoday.com/pir-sensor-based-security-system

Google link:

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=pir+lighting&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=A1p&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&q=pir+sensor+circuit+diagram&oq=pir+sensor+circuit+diagram&gs_l=serp.12...0.0.1.138085.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0.les%3B..0.0...1c.EmsJQNL98gk&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=1815624989281492&bpcl=39580677&biw=1920&bih=928


Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #8 on: 04 / December / 2012, 22:14:09 »
http://www.futurlec.com/PIR_Sensors.shtml

In many cases, the false triggering circuit built into commercial PIR modules can be a nuisance. I found it was better to remove the false triggering circuit from the PIR module and accept a few false triggers then delete any unwanted photos.

The commercial PIR modules listed on the page contains an application and a component data sheet  for the PIR module and enough technical information and a circuit diagram to custom trigger the M7612 IC chip, PIR sensor control timer circuit.   
« Last Edit: 05 / December / 2012, 07:30:40 by thepanoguy »

Re: A few questions regarding hardware, more than software.
« Reply #9 on: 06 / December / 2012, 20:15:27 »
I just received an email from Instructables that contains a 1000+ lumen MTB Light project.

I have not investigated the suitability details; I am posting the link to the project in case the project may be adaptable for a compact night time PIR photographic lighting source.

Project:

http://www.instructables.com/id/1000-lumen-MTB-Light-Drill-Miter-Saw/?ALLSTEPS

Within the following links there are a number of LED data sheets.

http://www.ledsupply.com/creemce-w430.php

http://www.cree.com/led-components-and-modules/products/xlamp/arrays-directional/xlamp-mce

 

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