Ever since we moved into this house, we have noticed a pile of scat (or feces, or poop, or whatever you want to call it) behind our house. Our house has an overhang there, so that spot keeps dry in the rain. Whatever has left the pile must be a close neighbor because there are fresh droppings there quite frequently. Although we think it is likely a raccoon making the deposit, as we have seen raccoons up close to the house, even on our deck, I wanted the proof. I wanted to know for sure.
There is such a thing as a motion sensor actuated camera, commonly called a 'game camera' by hunters who use it to find out when or if their prey frequents a location where they plan to hunt. They are on the pricey side, though, too expensive for doing surveillance to satisfy our curiosity about nighttime visitors. So, I started on a project to make one by hacking into a garage-sale-purchased digital camera and a cheap Ebay motion sensor, and combining the two with an Arduino controller. I got as far as hacking into the motion sensor, and got it working as an input to the Arduino, but hacking into a digital camera turned out to be a bigger job than I had anticipated, so I set that project aside.
Lately though, deer have been getting into our garden, and my car was broken into, so I began thinking there may be several good reasons to own a motion sensor triggered camera. When I got a $100 gift certificate for Christmas, it was a no-brainer and I started looking in earnest.
After a couple of days of research, I bought a Moultrie D55IR 'Game Camera'. This baby takes 5 megapixel pictures, and for night shots, it takes infra-red (IR) pictures with an almost invisible IR flash, which means it will not scare the critters. And it was reduced to $101 on Amazon.com. Here is the info on it:
After it arrived, I needed a way to test it to see if it was worth keeping. Hmm, the cat door! I set the camera on our deck just out side the cat door and was going to leave it there until evening, and hopefully catch the cats coming and going. A few hours later I looked out and my cat had decided to take a nap just inches in front of the camera lens. I grabbed the camera and looked at the photos. There were about 30 photos of out-of-focus cat fur. Well, at least I knew it works!
More on the game camera to come! (see http://backyardcritterwatch.blogspot.com/2011/01/masked-bandit-comes-for-dinner.html and http://backyardcritterwatch.blogspot.com/2011/02/deer-caught-on-camera.html)