Camera set up

I would like to set up camera’s to monitor growth and grazing impacts of orchids. This would require the cameras to be left out in the open for a period of up to one month.
I would like the option to
a/ take a regular photo on a timer
b/ take a photo upon a movement trigger. (i.e.animal grazing).

The kit I have purchased to date is:

  • raspberry pi zero w case (15)
  • raspberry pi zero camera adapter (15)
  • raspberry pi zero (3)
  • raspberry pi camera board v2 (6)
  • raspberry pi NoIR camera board (7)

Let’s start with three cameras and then I can increase once funds become available. what gear am I missing to allow the camera to be used in the field (for perhaps up to a month, but could be less if not an option).
what code do I need.
This has successfully been done in Vic also with orchids.
Thanks for your help.



Hi Felicity
Firstly probably a big battery
Cheers Bob


Hi Felicity.

How will you give the gear weather protection?



Hey Felicity,

Welcome to the forum!!

For the time dependent photos a counter should do the trick, and for sensing movement I imagine a PIR would be the easiest but limited in what it will pickup out in the sun.

Saving power on the Pi itself will also squeeze out as much life from the battery as possible, here’s a promissing looking post from Jeff Geerling: Raspberry Pi Zero - Conserve power and reduce draw to 80mA | Jeff Geerling

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Hi Felicity,

Welcome to the forum!

Sounds like an awesome project! To be able to deploy a Pi and have it last for around a month you would be looking to use a battery and way of generating electricity to recharge the battery. For that I would recommend checking out the PiJuice and respective solar panels.
This system will bring the effective charge cycle down to one day (rather than charging the battery once a month then deploying it to charging during the day and making sure you are ready for taking photos during the night).
Unfortunately, the Pi’s are a barebones single-board computer and don’t have any way of preserving a charge by themselves, The Pi Zero’s are recommended to use a 5.1V 2.5A supply (12.75W all up) so that you can run accessories such as a camera or software to connect to the internet and send files/to stream a video.
PS: through the camera boards themselves you are only able to connect one to each Pi through the CSI connector on the end, you will need to use the adapter to bring the cable down from the full size to the smaller cable.

As for the battery definitely go for something big as Bob recommended, depending on the setup, trying to last a month with the Pi on will be quite an undertaking and even with a solar panel, the weather might change with no significant charge generated for a while.

In terms of taking photos based on movement I would go with Liams idea of using a PIR sensor to trigger a photo-taking routine on the Pi: There is an excellent guide here on using the modules with Python:

Core has a tutorial that covers a similar style of project here:

John makes an excellent point regarding weatherproofing the whole setup, if it will be out in the weather it’s almost certain that there will be some moisture build-up that could cause failure.

Here’s some more details on the PiJuice

And some more on using cameras

Let us know if you need a hand with narrowing down some other parts!

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