Custom trail cameras using Raspberry Pi

Hey there CE forum,

I’m looking to build 10+ custom trail cameras using raspberry pi and various modules. I’d love to do the sourcing for this through Core as it’d be great to have an Australian distributor for after sales service.

So far I’ve tried using off the shelf trail cams and for the most part they’ve met our needs. However, they were far too slow at taking photos to meet our requirements, so we’re going to try to build our own.

I was wondering if someone could give me any advice on the following specs we require:

  • HD camera

  • Night vision

  • PIR

  • 4G transmission

  • Battery powered

We will be developing the software ourselves, but if there’s already open source software we could customise that would be handy.

The cameras would need to be capable of detecting movement and taking a photo at a rate of at least once a second (not all the time, but at times it would be required). In addition to this, the battery setup would need to last about a day.

Any help would be much appreciated!

Cheers,
Josh

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Hi Josh,

Welcome to the forums, this sounds like a big project you are about to dive into and we are happy to help.

I have a few questions straight off the bat that will help us come to some solution;

  • What are you capturing photos of?
  • How critical is night vision and infrared? (Last question will also tackle this a bit)
  • How spread apart will these cameras be?

I look forward to hearing back from you, this seems to be quite an exciting endeavour.

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Hi Jack,

Thanks so much for your interest :grinning: Yep, we are very excited to be working on this, we just hope it’s even possible :sweat_smile:

Here are the answers to your questions:

  • We are capturing photos of participants as they move through a course.
  • Night vision is required as the event will finish in the night. I believe the PIR is needed so that the camera is only on when needed to reduce power usage.
  • The cams will be anywhere between 1-10km apart.

Looking forward to discussing it further. Thanks again!

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Hi Josh,

Definitely possible!
I’d check out the following components, let us know if you have any alterations and we’ll see if we can find a more suitable part.

The battery is a bit tougher than the rest of the components, once you get your software working (possibly handling the power to the camera and 4G module) then you’ll be able to get a gauge on how much power you use.
I’ve got one of these at home for super rough Pi power requirement setups but a power profiler or Otii Arc would be better suited for measuring power consumption.
Overkill mode might include a SLA battery and step down module to make sure its powered for as long as possible (if you leave the system on the battery might get damaged).

Just some options above to get you started!
Liam

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Thanks so much, Liam! It’s great to know this project is possible :slight_smile:

I’ll take your advice and buy these components and get testing. I’ve got a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B here I’m hoping I can use to test. On that note, which pi model do you think would be most suitable, considering I need to be conscious of power output. I’m guessing a pi zero wouldn’t allow for all of these components to be connected?

Also, likely a very dumb question but is the Nightvision component only capable of taking nighttime photos and therefore I’ll need the regular pi camera component as well?

Thanks again for your help! I’ll post some updates on the project once I’ve been able to do some testing.

2 Likes

Hi Josh,

Those night vision cameras work day and night. They can be tuned to know when to turn the night vision on. We also have this guide comparing different cameras on the Pi.

As for which Pi is best, I’d say Pi Zeros with 4G sim HATs . My current thoughts are to connect them like a cctv project using MotionEye OS. We have another guide here that you may also fancy having a read of.

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Thanks so much, Jack! That’s so great the one cam can be used for both day and night. Also good news about the pi zero being suitable, I think that would be ideal for the battery situation.

I’ll check out the guides and the MotionEye OS!

I’m getting excited to try it all out. Thanks again everyone for all the advice :slight_smile:

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You are very welcome

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Hi Josh,

A quick but of clarification about that camera, since it doesn’t have an IR filter it blows out a bit in daylight, colours still there but not as present, there are some cameras from Arudam that have a mechanical toggle for the IR filter.

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Brilliant, thanks for the clarification, Liam! I may end up using both camera modules :+1: