article / 1 November 2023

PiCAM: A Raspberry Pi-based open-source, low-power camera system for monitoring plant phenology in Arctic environments

Dedi Yang and co athors publiched a paper on a Raspberry Pi-based open-source, low-power camera system

Extract from the abstract: In remote regions including the high-latitude Arctic, deploying time-lapse cameras could be challenging. The remoteness and lack of widespread power and telecommunications infrastructure limit options for the installation, maintenance and retrieval of data and equipment, and make it difficult for cameras to survive in extreme weather (e.g. long cold winters). To improve our understanding of Arctic phenology, new technologies are required to address these challenges. 

Here, we present a novel, low-power, compact, lightweight time-lapse camera system, called power-interval camera automation module (PiCAM). The PiCAM was designed with explicit consideration to simplify deployment (i.e. without a need for external power supplies) of camera systems and to address the challenges of camera survival in harsh Arctic environments. In this paper, we describe the design, setup and technical details of the PiCAM and provide a roadmap for how to build and operate these systems. As proof of concept, we deployed 26 PiCAMs at three low-Arctic tundra sites on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska in early August 2021 for characterizing Arctic plant phenology.

Of the 26 PiCAMs, 70% remained active at the point of our revisit in late July 2022 despite the extreme winter temperatures they experienced (< −30°C, heavy snow cover).

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