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Looking for a place to discuss camera trap troubleshooting, compare models, collaborate with members working with other technologies like machine learning and bioacoustics, or share and exchange data from your camera trap research? Get involved in our Camera Traps group! All are welcome whether you are new to camera trapping, have expertise from the field to share, or are curious about how your skill sets can help those working with camera traps. 

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WILDLABS Tech Tutors: Season 3

WILDLABS Team
The WILDLABS Tech Tutors are back for all new season of in-depth walkthroughs, deep discussions on effective, impactful, and inclusive conservation technology project strategies, and - of course- even more answers to...

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live streaming to a cell tower

Can someone tell me what options there are to set up a live streaming camera in a remote location with direct line of sight to a Telus (Canada) cell phone tower which is about 1...

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Hi Doug. 

We often work in remote areas like rainforests, desert, Australian outback, etc so we often have to develop custom hardware. We haven't seen anything that fits our needs in a budget range that could accomodate the projects that we work on. 

We've since gottenr requests to make the devices publicly available but are still working on finding time to document and set up the manufacturing for them. 

However you may be interested in one of the designs we've been using in the Middle East and  Australian outback. It's for 3G cellular communications and has inputs for a solar panel and rechargeable batteries. We're manly using it to connect periodically to a cell tower and upload data it collects from other wireless devces (LoRa) in the area. But you can also use it for streaming if your solar/battery capacity is large enough. 

If you're interested us, please direct message us on WildLABS and we can discuss more and perhaps set you up for pre-release hardware. I've included some pics below:

Akiba

Thanks for your quick response.  I am definitely interested in your device if I understand correctly.  Your device sends the camera feed to the celular network?  Telus advertises 4G/5G does that also carry 3G?  So I would need a camera, solar panel battery and a celular data plan? 

Doug

Hi Doug. 

It's actually an interesting application, however it might actually be cheaper to try and put together an off-the-shelf solution rather than go custom. There seem to be some livestreaming trailcams that might give you what you want almost out of the box. The Spartan GoLive trailcam seems like it might do this. Also other animal webcam setups seem to use a combination of WiFi security camera + a WiFi-LTE modem. This might actually be the cheaper and quicker way to go.

I do think that having a cellular streaming camera setup specifically for wildlife is a really interesting design. Trailcams are generally designed for camera trap functionality so I suspect the live functionality would be an afterthought. I'm curious if they have to deal with things like heat and recovering the stream after the communications goes down. 

In our designs, we assume a very resource constrained environment, ie: no power sources, little or no connectivity, etc. So looking at a design where it's specifically expecting a power source (ie: dedicated large solar panel) and good/decent cellular connectivity with the design focus on uptime might be something interesting to pursue. 

But for now, I recommend checking out the live trailcams or a wifi security cam + LTE bridge setup. And if you're interested in a dedicated solution specifically for wildlife cams, I'd love to discuss what the requirements would be. It might be super useful for wildlife orgs and parks to build awareness and improve funding,as well as benefit the research and conservation community.

Akiba  

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discussion

Structured light/lidar /laser for measuring animals in camera traps and BRUVs.

Hi, I checked through the site but couldn't find any information, please let me know if I have missed any threads. I was just wondering if anyone is using or tried to...

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Could you explain a bit more, do you want a measurement of length, or whole volume?

Like @wkcmark said, there are some simple solutions for measuring length fish, using stereo arrangements for example (2 cams looking at the same spot from slightly different angles). I also found this creative solution, using a single camera in a special acrylic case, that makes use of refraction indices. This, again, is for underwater systems.

If you could project two lasers at a known angle on the body of the animal like in exploration submarines, you could calculate the distance from the camera and measure the animal, although this would be a manual process.

The simplest version might be a laser rangefinder, a measurement of image size, and some straightforward geometry, whihc would allow reasonable calculations of linear measurements. 

I've been wondering about rangefinding/size-measuring technologies that could be incorporated into camera traps for a long time, and am following this thread and the work of @Freaklabs with great interest.

So far I see there's stereo photography, Lidar, structured light/illumination, laser rangefinding, being suggested. I'm curious if we could come up with a relatively exhaustive list of potential technologies, then possibly discuss the pros/cons of each when used in a camera trap? For example, laser rangefinding might give precise and accurate measurements but maybe because it is an active sensor it drains the battery quickly and the laser might affect animals?

If there's interest I can start a separate thread so as to not detract from this one.

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discussion

How (some) Trail Cameras Fail + how to fix

(in addition to posting summary of these in the group spreadsheet dedicated to the topic) I recently published a longer form version of trail cameras failure symptoms, root causes...

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That's such a cool list. Thanks for posting it!

Akiba

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discussion

App Development Environment for Commercial Trail Cameras

I have recently prototyped a programming environment that allows me to customize the firmware of a commercial trail camera (Browning BTC7A) by adding new functions/features...

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much appreesh @StephODonnell 

I've put together a short slide deck outlining the concept and status (see attached PowerPoint).  Critcally, I'm looking for a 1 to 3 "inaugural open source developers" to help launch the effort.   Ideally, these developers would be associated with a project in need of enhanced firmware. I've already spoken with @Alasdair about this, and it looks like there could be an opportunity based on one of his projects.  Please repond on this thread (or message me directly) if you know of anyone who might be interested or available.  Skillset looks like:

•C (C++?) for Feature Development

•Python (for tool development)

•Thread-X RTOS

•Embedded System Software Design

•GitHub/Colab/Open Source Development Environments

Ability to Operate (and to help define) a Nascent Software Development Environment

@Freaklabs 

Akiba may be interested?

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discussion

Sourcing camera traps in Ukraine - advice needed!

Hi all,  We're planning some monitoring work using a grid of camera traps, in Ukraine. Due to high import taxes for anything coming in from the EU we'll need...

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Hi,

Maybe try sourcing from Aliexpress?  I an't speak to the quality, but at some price point it becomes worth looking into this option.

-harold

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discussion

Arboreal camera trapping

Hello Wildlabs Community, Does anyone have advice on where to start with arboreal camera trapping and the surveying intensity needed to detect arboreal species? I found a...

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Hi Michelle, I've worked on a few arboreal camera trap surveys so I might be able to share some information. With other researchers we've been working on a paper that reviews the current state of arboreal camera trapping, methods, recommendations, and what to expect in the upcoming years. It's still in review, but I'm sure most, if not all, of the authors will gladly help you with any questions you might have.

I've seen footage of pangolins in canopy cameras (https://twitter.com/rewild/status/1272904442061492226), try contacting @masselouxgarou and @thereal_jayhay on twitter. If you have any specific questions, let me know and perhaps I can point you on the right path!

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discussion

24-hour monitoring of birds' nests

We're working with the Alagoas Antwren, a Critically Endangered species from the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. We've monitored the population over the past three years and...

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Hi Ben,

This is relatively straightforward. It just requires an IP network camera, a 12V PoE injector, 12V power source, high-capacity SD card and an ethernet cable to your laptop.

I designed and put this ruggedized system together in a Pelican case for outdoor use. It may interest you:

https://envirocam.com.au

Various lenses from 2.8mm (wide-angle) to 16mm (close-up) can be used for or even thermal for complete visibility in darkness. Up to four lenses can record simultaneously for multiple angles of view.

Whist used for illegal-dumping detection in bushland, it can be equally used for your scenario.

I'm happy to give you some pointers - just reach out.

Best regards,

Anthony

I would suggest, if time is of the essence, to use an off-the-shelf "security" camera.
I had some luck using Wyze cams, they are $35 apiece and connect via wifi. You power them via USB and it should be easy to set up either a large car battery with a usb charger or even a simple solar setup with a 5V output. The new version is weatherproof, although it would probably require further waterproofing for a rainforest setup. They are fairly small (I think something like a 5x5x5cm cube) and have visual motion detection, something that would be of benefit for your as it would also pick up reptiles as they move into the frame. They a microSD slot and you can view the data remotely, the app will send you notifications every time there is a movement detected. They are not in real-time but usually with less than a minute delay and for a couple of $$ a month you get unlimited cloud storage as well.
As mentioned earlier, of might be easier to run a camera on wire and power it with PoE, the connection would be much more stable but then you need to have a physical connection and a cable running through the forest which is another challenge.
Just my $0.02, keep in mind this is not as robust of a solution as, let say, envirocam, but it will allow you to set it up really quickly, given you have internet access.

Dear Anthony and Michal,

Many thanks for the suggestions! Anthony, I have sent you a message through the site you linked to. I'd be interested to know more about the cameras you are using.

Michal, it's good to know about Wyze - I had not come across them. We're working with the options we have available in Brazil for now, but in future we may decide to import equipment. It's a long and bureacratic process to do so, even for relatively simple items. We don't have internet access at the field site, so it will have to be either a cable or local wifi setup (camera to computer). When we have a system set up I will try to post some details here about how it works out.

Thanks!

Ben

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article

Tech4Wildlife Leaders: Resolving Human-Giraffe Conflict

Owino Raymond
Read our interview with early career conservationist and CLP Future Conservationist Award recipient Owino Raymond, who is working with camera traps along the Kenya-Somalia border to understand and reduce conflict...

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Time lapse camera: recommendations needed

Hi, I need a good model with time lapse to take pictures in the rainforest. Any thoughts? I never used time lapse before on CT's. I am looking at the RECONYX HP2X...

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Hi again,

DSLRs are not that complicated and they are also used in rainforests by photographers (for "nice" non-sccientific images). I have heard reports that termites can be rough though! I have seen people making heavy duty metal "overboxes" to protect against asian elephant "vandalism". 

I have no experience myself with Reconyx ultra fire models and merely mentioned you might want to consider them as they have higher resolution and can thereby potentially record smaller details. With these small sensor cameras, as trail cameras are, the actually resolution is likely limited by the quality of the lens though! 

With a DSLR you have a large sensor (= good quality pixels (less noise)), full control over the lens quality and angle of view BUT the setup will be considerably more expensive. I believe you could get comparable syncronisation of multiple cameras with either DSLRs or trailcameras. 

Hi Ivonne,

Have you considered using a GOPRO? They have some pretty natty features now  and they have a good range of mounting and waterproofing gadgets. If you don’t need traditional camera trap features these work well and you can dial up the image quality to suit your needs.

Dave 

Do you need the photos during the timelapse, or just all at once at the end?  If the latter, how many exposures will you need per timelapse recording?  Depending on your answers, that might limit you to only options that let you retrieve images during recording - perhaps requiring wifi or celular?

Not knowing your requirements there, just some general thoughts:

GoPros

I too would think a GoPro would be an option, iff wide angle suits your purposes (though, if resolution isn't a high priority, GoPros do have exposure-time cropping options).  Cheap, robust, with myriad accessories easily available.  They also have wifi support - though, last I checked, you can't browse & download images while the GoPro is in recording mode (not even between exposures).  Maybe newer models have removed that limitation?

There's also relatively novel options like the GoPro MAX with 360° video recording.

Trail cameras

I've used several different trail cameras that have timelapse options - they're pretty common.  I haven't used Reconyx ones, though.  In general I find trail cameras to be pretty useless photographically - fine, maybe, for just monitoring wildlife activity.

Mirrorless / DSLR

If you do go for a 'real' camera, go for one with (at least the option of) a pure electronic shutter.  Few DSLRs have this option.  Some - but not all - mirrorless do.  Mechanical shutters (a) can cause motion blur and (b) tend to break after a few hundred thousand exposures.  e.g. if you're doing one exposure per minute, you'd get less than a year from most consumer cameras.

The Sony a6100 (or later) cameras are good options for this - they're old and therefore can be found very cheap, but the image quality is still light-years ahead of trail cameras & GoPros.

A slightly more up-market option - probably only of any interest if night-time exposures are important - would be a Nikon Z5.  Alas they're current-model so you probably won't find big discounts, but you get:

  • Excellent image quality (provided 24MP is sufficient resolution for you - are you aiming for 8K timelapse?).  There are higher-end options (Z6, Z7) as well as Sony a7r options if you need higher resolution or (marginally) better image quality.

  • The ability to use practically any lense ever made on them (their Z mount supports adapters to practically any other mount system).  In case you have particular lens requirements, or existing lenses you want to use.

  • Twin UHS-II SD card slots, so you can record to two cards simultaneously if data loss (from a faulty SD card) is a concern.

Keep in mind, though, that most mirrorless/DSLRs have limitations on how many exposures they'll allow on their built-in intervalometers (e.g. 9999 for Nikons).  But there's usually ways around that using $10 plug-in intervalometers, if need be (and fancier options if you want more control, such as "bulb ramping" for recording across day & night smoothly).

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Cellular and Lora camera traps

Dear all, I'm looking for feedback from field experience using cellular and/or LoRA camera trap. How is the reliability of those systems and how strong have to be the...

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Hi Antoine,

I am intrigued myself about how well a LoRa-based trail camera might work. I wonder if the 'LoRa' element is a more traditional radio connection? And of course the system still appears to rely on a cellular connection at the base station end. But interesting nonetheless. 

On the radio side, there's also the CuddeLink model: https://www.cuddeback.com/cuddelink

However, I'd be sitting down when you look at the price. 

I've had reasonable success with older model 3G cameras such as the Bolymedia MG983G-30M. From memory, it couldn't transfer video files larger than 10sec in length and it gets a bit glitchy if the batteries are running low. But, it worked well enough for me at the time.  

If you do end up looking closer at the 'LoRa' model, please let us know how it works.

Cheers,

Rob

Hi Antoine,

I had not seen these before, but I'll echo Rob in wondering if the radio links in these are truly what most would consider 'LoRa'.  That tech/protocol generally has very low data transfer rates and would be quite challenged in sending pictures.  That said, what they call it may not be relevant if it works for you. I would just be cautious of thinking it could integrate with other 'LoRa' devices or networks.  Some other web sites that mention this system describe the radio link as 'proprietary'.

Kyler

Antoineede they are a mesh style of camera, one links to the other and then send pictures back to the home unit where you either send them via cellular or you check the sd card. The cover Lora and cuddielink cameras do this but they play hell on battieries.

I had a cuddelink system and got rid of it , the home unit was to hook up to a pc and then from there you could easily wept a scrip to send to txt message or email etc but they scrapped that idea 

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discussion

Camera traps in the tropics: no detection of wildlife visits

Hello everyone, I'm Patrícia and I'm currently working as a reseach assistant in Príncipe island. One of my tasks here is to use artificial nests to...

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Hi Patricia,

I think this is likely an issue with the PIR lens positioning. The PIR has detection zones that are designed to maximise image capture of things moving a certain distance away.

A quick fix would be to have the camera trap placed directly above the nests looking straight down. I have seen someone doing this on twitter for invasive species on islands but haven't been able to re-find the tweets. 

I would use a rat substitute for testing, like a tennis ball on a stick. Warm this up in the sun and then insert into the field of view and check if the camera has captured it. You could try this in different orientations and angles to see where the detection zones might be. 

Best wishes,

Sam

 

Hello

I understand how frustating that can be....I would try with the camera closer. 2.5m seem too far away for rat...specially that it must have some vegetation between. Also think that the suggestion of putting the camera above the nest facing down is also a great idea...

Best of luck...

 

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article

New Article: Environmental DNA Metabarcoding

WILDLABS Team
Check out the new research article "Environmental DNA metabarcoding as a useful tool for evaluating terrestrial mammal diversity in tropical forests." Recently published in Ecological Society of America's Ecological...

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discussion

Recommendations needed for recycling batteries in Mexico

Hi everyone, I am using a lot (~1500)  lithium AA batteries for my research based in Belize, but I haven't found any way to recycle these batteries either in Belize or...

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Maybe the alkaline battery will be an option in the future, which is more environmental friendly.

I just did a quick search and it doesn't look like there's a place where you can ship them in Mexico. However, at least in Mexico City, there are a bunch of collection sites for old electronics and batteries (see below- sorry the link it's in Spanish).

https://www.dineroenimagen.com/hacker/estos-son-los-centros-autorizados-para-tirar-tus-pilas-usadas-en-cdmx/108084

I know you have a lot of batteries, but have you consider taking some back with you? That's what I've been doing with our empty batteries, bring them back from Madagascar to Canada. 

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