discussion / Camera Traps  / 23 December 2020

Wireless Camera for Live Viewing

Hi Everyone,

Just thought I'd share a project I'm working on for a cheap remote camera system. The range is short but it connects to a cell phone without needing to download an app. Max range line of sight is currently 300 feet to me Iphone 6. I'll be adding a project later that has a boosting repeater.

It's based on the ESP32-Cam for about $15 Canadian. Plus some power supply parts and 18650 batteries. Total cost to build this was under $30.


With the short range it limits the uses for this, but though I'd share it anyway just incase it works for someone. They're great for monitoring camera traps from a distance as well as animal traps to limit the amount of time the animal is in the cage.

Thanks for sharing this Ryan.  I really like this because a) its cheap and simple b) its eminently doable with some basic maker skills and c) its extensible (as you say, at least by just carrying a Wifi repeater and adding solar recharging).

You seem to have made it for a specific use-case, one where you arrive on scene and set the cameras up - in effect extending your own field of view.  Otherwise you'd have put an on/off switch on the outside of the case, I'd'a thought.

As the cam will be running all the time, and you are not recording to sd card, a smart addition could be for the cam to go into deep sleep most of the time, and only fire up the camera on demand.

My initial thoughts, and the simplest implementation would be for the ESP32 to go into deep sleep for 55 seconds every minute, wake up, init the webserver, listen for a wifi signal from your phone, then either go back to sleep or initialise the camera - this is not something I have done BTW.

I don't want to dilute your ideas any more, but I have other ideas both on how it could be awoken and other use cases including for drones.

Great work, I'm gonna build some for myself.


Thanks Paul,

Some great ideas that you've got for sure. This project was a starter project with the intentions of adding in the ability to start up and shut off remotely but I'm still needing to learn how. At the moment I'm working on adding in a solar panel for extended use. I like the idea of having the wifi on for the first minute of every ten minutes or twenty minutes where you can quickly log in and keep it awake. If no one is there to keep it awake it simply says ok no one's here and goes back to sleep.

Although very uncharacteristic of me, I have already ordered the gear for the 3 units via the links in your blog post.

I have some solar chargers in a drawer, so may get that linked up pretty quickly. I also have some cheapo USB wifi repeaters that I've never put to use [similar to these, but cheaper https://www.fnac.com/mp40255673/Repeteur-Wifi-XIAOMI-Mi-WiFi-Repeater-2-Connexion-USB-Jusqu-a-300-Mbps/w-4)

Some more about my use case.

In effect, I want to be able to "see around corners", our rural property is traversed by a public path, and locals (poachers, bikers, quads) and tourists  have a tendency to go "off piste". I have already tested out the range of LoRa 433mhz enabled sensors that report back to the house when someone is approaching/leaving - but I still need some visuals to understand what is happening.

The ESP32 has Bluetooth, so, depending on proximity, that may be a way of turning the camera on, but I was instinctively thinking of adding a LoRa 433mhz board to act as an interrupt for the ESP32. I already have LoRa working with ESP32 on my home gateway.

As for your comments, I feel having to wait 10 minutes for a Wifi contact window to open is too long. I kinda meant sleep 55 seconds, listen 5 seconds - repeat, that could potentially extend battery life by 6 or 8.  This would depend on the ESP32 being able to accept connect requests inside a 5 second window, as I said, I have never actually tried that before.



Would like to know a little more about your repeater is it battery operated also. I can see this being used as a device to be able to watch a field at a father distance using an iPhone or android phone where there is no power.

so in logic if my thinking is correct iphone connects to a battery or solar panel esp32, that esp32 connects to the other esp32 with camera attached powered by battery or solar power and the distance could be extended in logic and have a way of turning on and off the esp32 with camera with out having to go there every time to turn it off and on