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Old April 9th, 2009, 07:21 AM   #1
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Battery life

I plan to set up a Sony HC9 on a sensor activated trail monitor. The current battery is listed for about 70 minutes. Does anyone know how long I can expect the battery to last on the standby mode, assuming no activation? The spring temps will be in the 30's at night and 50's during the day. The camcorder will be placed at a timber wolf marking post which is being visited every 4-5 days. I hope to leave the camcorder out as long as possible to minimize my scent. Any ideas? Is a longer duration battery available for this camera?
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Old April 9th, 2009, 08:21 AM   #2
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Dale,

Sorry, I don't have a good answer for your specific questions, but I did have two thoughts on your project...

1-Have you looked into a scent masking solution like that used by hunters? I think fox urine is one type. You'd spray it on your boots before entering the woods, and it hides your scent.

2-A solar powered battery supply/charging system might work for you. I don't have any specific recommendations, but a google search might turn something up.

Good luck!

Mark
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Old April 9th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #3
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My experience with the Sony HVR-A1 is that even with a large battery, it will last only a couple of nights. The cold temperatures will drain it faster than normal. Have the camera switch off fairly quickly once there is no animal movement in the area. At first I had the camera stay on for 20 minutes or so, hoping that animals would come back into the frame and the camera would be triggered immediately. In practice that meant high battery drain time, and it barely lasted 24 hours. Cutting the standby time down to a few minutes meant the camera operated for about 48 hours - two nights effectively. The camera was usually triggered two or three times a night - with otters or badgers - I don't know how long it would have lasted in standby mode only.
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Old April 10th, 2009, 06:54 AM   #4
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I will use scent masking spray, rubber gloves, and boots. The battery life info is what I was looking for Annie. I can set if for 2 minutes of record after activation which should be enough for a few good seconds. Since they are moving through at night I am sure the IR light will further drain the battery.
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Old April 10th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #5
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Dale,


Here is a thought/ Get a 12volt battery inverter., Herre I would get one at "Canadian tire" Plug in you camera to the 110 plug and leave it for a lot longer than any camera battery could ever conceive of doing!!!

I do this to do time lapse photography, or capture to a lap top.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 07:11 AM   #6
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I like that idea. I could leave it out for a week without worrying about the power. It shouldn't too much problem keeping everything dry. We'll see what happens with the first attempt. Next chance to visit the site is the week of the 20th.
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Old April 11th, 2009, 02:07 PM   #7
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What trigger are you using? I've got a trailmaster PIR one. The batteries in that last for several months. The battery in the camera looks like it will last a few days now, if it isn't triggered too often. My infra-red lights were working off a 12v battery, from which I used to get at least as long as I did from the camera battery - but that died on me last week, so for the moment I can only use them off them mains electricity - in other words, I'm confined to using the set-up in the garden.

I would recommend setting up the whole caboodle in the garden if you can, or at least in a room in the house that isn't used very often. Make sure you have everything working. Write out a list of what needs to be connected to what, so that you have a check-list to use in the field. If you set it up in the garden, maybe a local cat will oblige by triggering it once or twice a night, or in your house, you could trigger it every so often. That way you'll get an idea of what batteries last for what time, and what the drawbacks are to using the equipment. I had everything working fine last autumn, but this spring I seem to have a variety of problems from lights not working (that was before the battery died completely) to the trigger not working (I had to go back and read the manual again).

Dale G's suggestion of an inverter for a car battery sounds like a good one - depends on how far you have to carry the gear!!

One "problem" with the trailmaster is that it powers the camera right down, and then wakes it up when triggered. But it takes several seconds for the camera to wake up, so if the subject isn't staying around for that long, you won't actually record it.
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Old April 12th, 2009, 07:50 AM   #8
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I'm using a pix controller PIR sensor with on camera IR light from Sony on the HC9. I chose pixcontroller over trailmaster because it is cheaper and comes with a remote control that can activate the camcorder from about 50 yards. I have practiced with the system and almost have the bugs out, however now the sensor does not turn the camera off so I'm awaiting a replacement. The sensor will be set so it only senses in the dark and the camera will be set in Nightshot mode since the animals have come in the dark 3 of 4 times and there would be too many deer activations during the day. You are right about a check list. One problem was making sure all batteries are charged. The 8-10 second delay became noticable when I tried to video birds coming down a tree to the feeder and missed them completely.

The wolves are being monitored with a Reconyx trailcam that has a trigger delay of .2 seconds and shoots one frame a second as long as there is activity. Two packs of four have visited the marking post and stay for a couple minutes or so (I haven't checked the times on the photos yet). In the dark they notice the IR camera but completely ignor it during daylight hours. The still camera will have been in place a total of 5 weeks to determine a pattern before I set the video up. That's after it took 3 months to find a good trail to monitor.

What some people do for fun!
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Old April 27th, 2009, 03:22 AM   #9
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How is your project going?

I've played around with the settings on the trailmaster, and now it turns the camera off within a few seconds of activity ceasing. I wasn't sure that this was the right way to go, however, it does mean that the battery (equivalent to the Sony NP-FM90) now lasts at least a week. I have lots of clips of the back view of the badger coming through the garden, and of the neighbour's cat spray-marking the garden shed!

I haven't yet got around to replacing the battery I was using for the infra-red lights, so I'm still using the system off the mains electricity. But that will be the next thing to sort out so that I can use it away from the house - I have identified a couple of suitable badger setts, though one is in too public a place for leaving equipment out, and the other depends on whether or not the farmer has cattle in the field - they get into the woodland too and being curious about things, will inevitably cause some damage.

The stills set-up you hove sounds very good. I hope the video works just as well. I bought the trailmaster unit because it was the only one available here in Britain.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 07:13 AM   #10
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The animals are there and hunting well into daylight but technical issues developed. My remote sensor stopped sending an off signal to the camera so the whole tape would record on the first sensing. This occurred on a trial run and no wolves have been attempted. It is hard to believe but there is a 3 week turn around time to get the sensor replaced, it is supposed to arrive this week. During a recent 2 week period there were about 10 visits to the scent post in the dark with half of them being wolves, others included black bear, fox, skunk, and river otter. I hope to get back to the area soon to set the camera up again.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 08:08 AM   #11
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Dale
As you know if things can go wrong......
I have been following this thread to see how you make out. I've had really poor luck trying to catch wolves with a remote video camera but I have to admit I haven't tried to many times. They can hear the camera start up and are usually departing by the time the camera starts to record. I've got the Trailmaster units. I would like to try a a camera that records to a memory card as it should make less noise starting up. Just not sure if I can find one that will work with a lanc controller.

Hope you have some success.

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Old April 29th, 2009, 03:13 AM   #12
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Gordon

It seems that with the trailmaster you are limited to Sony cameras - I've tried it with my Canon XHa1 and nothing happens.

I have also tried using the Sony MRC1k - I can use that with the Canon without tape, but with the Sony A1 the tape has to be in there, and as the trailmaster uses the lanc, the tape has to be running too. Also the large battery on the MRC1k lasted only through one night. Even with the unit set on synch mode, on the Sony A1 you still have to wait for the camera to start up before recording starts.

From what I've read, the ideal camera seems to be the Sony Z7 that the MRC1k was designed for, or one of the more expensive card only cameras which, even if I could afford one, I wouldn't want to leave out unattended!
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Old April 29th, 2009, 07:23 AM   #13
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Annie
Yes, I had the same results trying a Canon camera. It's seems not all lanc protocols are the same.
Any camera I would get would have to have the nightshot mode so that leaves me with sony. I want to get away from the noise of the heads spinning up so that's why I have been thinking a card only camera. I'm not sure but they might get into record mode faster to.
Thanks.

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Old April 29th, 2009, 07:44 AM   #14
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I had hoped that the MRC1K in cache mode would mean that recording would start more quickly, but that mode doesn't work with the Sony a1 - at least, not in this situation. I think it should work with some of the more modern Sony cameras.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 03:59 PM   #15
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I finally put together some footage of near video of the wolves I would like to capture on HD. The clip can be seen at: Crex Meadows Wolves on Vimeo

The wolves are coming in to a natural scent marking post which was found quite by accident. With the females in the den the rest of the pack is hunting longer and visiting the area more during daylight. This project is being done as a volunteer for Crex Meadows Wildlife Management Area which is trying to determine the number of wolves in the area.

Oh, by the way, now the motion sensor is scheduled to arrive next week.
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