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Old June 23rd, 2008, 12:54 PM   #1
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Motion activated recording hardware

Hello,

I'd like to put a camcorder in our woods and let it record the various goings on overnight. In a recent program on Discovery/Science Channel, I saw a small Pelican case strapped to a tree that caught a Jaguar on its night-time prowl (obviously not in *my* woods!)

A bit of research led me to this:

http://www.pixcontroller.com/Product...Controller.pdf

I want to do exactly what the last page of the document does (including controller an external IR LED array). Unfortunately, this product has been discontinued and the manufacturer doesn't seem to have a replacement.

Can anyone make any recommendations?

Thanks,

John.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 02:50 PM   #2
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i found a little cheap circuit that is a LANc controller, with a trigger.
the ciruit when triggered by any closed contact (could be a PIR motion detector or a laser barrier or any contact activated system) do the following sequence.
switch on cam, set to record mode for a programmed duration, switch off cam.
http://www.keene.co.uk/electronic/ke.../KLRP1PCB.html

but they got the ready made kit also
http://www.keene.co.uk/electronic/ke...tor/KLRP1.html
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 03:26 PM   #3
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Thanks, Giroud.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #4
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I was thinking about buying one of these. So I'd be interested in hearing of any experiences, especially with badgers and foxes.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:26 PM   #5
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Hmm, I sense a project coming on.

I really want to be able to do the following:

1) Use PIR to trigger recording
2) Turn on/off an LED array
3) Record video to tape for defined amount of time
4) Record true timelapse to Memory Stick (not interval recording to tape)

LANC can be used to control the camcorder(s) but implementing a LANC interface is a pain due to its rather complex timings.

Thankfully, an inexpensive chip exists to do the grunt work of communicating via LANC. You send/receive commands from the chip and it takes care of the LANC stuff:

http://www.elmelectronics.com/DSheets/ELM624DS.pdf (approx. $15)

You communicate with it via an RS232 interface using a simple protocol. This could be from a laptop but that's rather undesirable out in a forest.

Instead, you can use a PIC microcontroller that would send the commands to the LANC chip. The PIC can be hooked up to a myriad of sensors - e.g., PIR and can also turn on/off external hardware (such as the LED array).

As it happens, I have a PIC kit in a drawer patiently awaiting its reason for existing:

http://www.parallax.com/Store/Microc...;2cProductName

which you can buy (as I did) from your local RadioShack who just happen to sell a bare-bones PIR module:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2906724

I already have an LED array:

http://www.supercircuits.com/IR-Illuminators/IR25

and I hope to squeeze everything into a Pelican 1400 case (to fit an HDR-HC1 + my smaller camcorders):

http://www.pelican.com/cases_detail.php?Case=1400

Programming will be done on a PC and then downloaded to the PIC. I envisage a small number of buttons/switches to choose a mode (e.g., timelapse to Memory Stick, PIR-activated etc).

I'm not sure when I'll start on this but I'll provide updates...

John.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:35 PM   #6
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The biggest problem, from my inquiries, was likely to be the time taken to wake the camera up when the motion is detected. Leaving the camera awake means using up battery power, so external power pack, or solar panel, is needed if you are away from an electricity supply.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #7
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Agreed. For me, the biggest current draw would be the IR LED array - hence the need to turn in on and off as required.

I had in mind a seal lead-acid battery to power the whole lot, such as:

http://www.thebatterystop.com/catalog/i1311.html

though I haven't calculated the capacity needed yet. The above example has a decently small volume and is cheap.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 04:04 PM   #8
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this battery seems to be only 1.2A/h . that is very small (it gives you 12X.1.2=14.4watt).
any big li-ion camcorder camera (like the sony NP-970) is 7.2V at 6.6A.h (about 47Watts).
you better have to find a battery that can power your device without conversion, since converting voltage is very lossy (at best 80% efficiency).
So if you camera is 7.2V, go for a 7.2 V battery, the led array will be ok with such voltage since led device are usually current driven , not voltage driven.
www.batteryspace.com has a lot of battery pack of any voltage between 3.6 to 48V and with big current available reasonably priced.
for my regular video use (powering LCD monitor of my stabilizer, or my WEVI wireless transmitter, i choosed a nimh 24V-5A (about 100W of power) that almost fit in your hand. I use a DC-DC converter to get 12V out of it.
if you are ready to bring heavy things with you , thare are some battery pack for electric bike that can deliver up to 500W of power, should be enough to power your system for several days.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #9
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The drawback with this kind of battery is that they are not designed to be run down to nothing - effectively you need something that will run for at least twice the time you intend running the equipment for. I have three 12V 3.2Ah batteries that were used for monitoring equipment, they lasted three nights if I was lucky, and became less reliable as the season progressed. They were not powerful enough to run the infra-red lamps for the video camera - I needed to use a 7.2Ah version for that.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #10
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i purchased 12V 12A lead gel battery (the cheap one for electric scooter, less than $80 ea.)
lead support better discharge than li-ion or nimh, but any battery getting a deep discharge is damaged during the process. The 2nd problem is the discharge curve.
some technology (like lead) is going slowly down the hill from 13V to 8 , while others (like li-ion) are providing rock steady voltage and suddenly drop.
for sure , if you are ready to lift heavy, use a car battery (12V @ 120A/h over 1000W of power !) and you will hardly discharge the battery under 60%
for very long use, try a solar panel.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 05:46 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info.

Actually, my original thought was a full-size deep discharge marine 12V battery since I have one just lying around. Of course, it is large and heavy but I only have to carry it into our woods (for now!)

But before I worry about the power requirements out in the field, I have to get all the electronics and programming worked out!
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Old July 4th, 2008, 10:44 PM   #12
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John,

Here are is a site that has homebrew video kits and info.

http://www.whitetailsupply.com/index.html

You might check out Pixcontroller's forum. There is a member there named PaPaBob that knows a lot about what you are after.
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Old July 5th, 2008, 01:59 AM   #13
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for such project, i usually use eletronic kits (google for "electronic kit" ).
they always got some cheap kit (usually around 10$) for timer, delay, detector, power regulation.

http://www.ramseyelectronics.com/hk/...order=pr%5Fsku
http://store.qkits.com/category.cfm/TIMER
http://www.bgmicro.com/index.asp?Pag...S&Category=116
http://www.hobbytron.com/electronickits.html

you just need solder iron and careffully assemble them.
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Old August 8th, 2008, 04:56 AM   #14
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I've been searching around the internet for the last hour or so, having come up with the following equipment:

http://www.trailmaster.com/tm700v.php

It's not cheap - and is pretty much twice the price here in the UK (and only available from www.alanaecology.co.uk), but I can't find anything else of similar quality.

I asked Keene about their unit mentioned in an earlier post, and they said it really needed something quite close (and large) to trigger it, but the trailmaster unit is designed for wildlife - so works at a greater distance from the subject.

Judging from a post found elsewhere on the forum (sorry, I came across it by googling TM700V, and don't know exactly whereabouts it was) the trailmaster units will work with Sony camcorders, but not Canon or others - something to do with the Lanc protocols.

So, I have a Sony A1, I have infra-red lights, If I buy a TM700V, I've just got to sort out the thorny problem of a suitable battery/power supply!
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Old August 8th, 2008, 10:21 AM   #15
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Since my last post, I have designed and built the electronics to control a camcorder with the following features:

1. Single 12V source (e.g., small lead-acid battery) to power all the electronics, camcorder and IR LED array (two on-board regulators - 5V and 8.4V)
2. Video interval recording and/or memory stick timelapse recording (i.e., can do both at the same time)
3. Automatic use of IR illumination and night shot mode (servo controlled) - i.e., sense the ambient light level and turn the IR LED array and night shot mode on or off
4. PIR motion detection to trigger video and/or memory stick recording
5. User selectable settings (via small rotary dials and DIP switches) for things like timelapse interval, whether to record to memory stick in VTR mode or not etc etc.

It's all based around a Parallax BASIC Stamp 2px and an ELM624 RS232/LANC interpreter plus a real time clock (for timing) and some shift registers for user settings.

I'm developing the software at the moment. In principle, a number of programs could be devised and you download the one you need in the field via an RS232 interface.

To be continued....(!)
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