article / 18 September 2023

Wisconsin - Insect Light Trap

We are a group of students at UW-Madison who have built a working prototype for insect imaging. The light trap is aimed at photographing aquatic insects. 

In response to the growing concern for declining insect populations, as articulated by stream ecologist Michael A. Miller of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, our team embarked on a mission to create a comprehensive solution to aid in the collection of reliable insect imaging data. Recognizing the potential consequences of this decline—including disruptions to food chains, pollination loss, and excessive waste accumulation—we set out to develop an adaptable, cost-effective, and open-source insect monitoring device. 

The development of the first prototype focused on the power self-sufficiency and power schedule. It is important that the user is able to drop the device off at any time of the day to begin operation. Controlling the timing of both imaging and lighting throughout the night is also an important aspect of our design. To accomplish this, a light sensor was used in conjunction with a timer relay to control the power supplied to both the lights and the Raspberry Pi. The two components were wired in series according to their manufacturer specified wiring diagrams to achieve the desired outcome: the device turns on at dusk, and is able to cycle off and on intermittently throughout the night in order to capture insect images. The prototype components including: battery, lights, Raspberry Pi, digital timer, light sensor, 12V-5V step down, and their wiring / communication is shown below:

The waterproof junction box can be seen below including the timer, 12 MP camera, Raspberry Pi, rail terminal and 12V-5V stepdown:

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