WIRED gives DIY wildlife camera instructions

DIY Camera

Tired of those store-bought wildlife cameras and their fancy $70-$350 pricetags? WIRED’s current “How to Make Stuff” DIY issue features a motion sensor wildlife camera that you–or someone more skilled than you–can make with about $20 to $30 worth of electronics, including the motion sensor from an air freshener.

Normally I’d like to try any of these instructions I write about. But Doug Paradis‘s project instructions for Cheap Motion Detection Wildlife Camera on Instructables is clearly beyond my skill and patience limit. WIRED judges it an intermediate project. Doug says that he spent $20 because he had a lot of stuff around the house. My estimate is it would be about $30 if you don’t have that kind of house, plus more if you aren’t packing a soldering iron.

Obviously Doug’s camera isn’t as sophisticated as the ones with waterproof lockboxes and infra-red. It has a range of 3-6 feet. But that’s plenty if you have the skill I lack and some backyard birds and squirrels you want to spy on without spooking them.

pelicanpuffinhummingbird Where to SEE WEIRD BIRDS (All the interesting birds: pelicans, puffins, prairie chickens, vultures, hummingbirds)
squirrelred squirrel Where to SEE SQUIRRELS

1.  Re-purposed PIR sensor module from an Air Wick Freshmatic Compact i-Motion
Air Freshener. $6
2.  Key chain Vivitar Mini digital camera (available at CVS or Walgreen’s) $8
3.  Project box from Radio Shack (270-1803) size 5″ x 2.5″ x 2″ $4
4.  MSP430G2211 microprocessor (part of TI Launchpad experimenters kit) $4.30
5.  Proto board from Radio shack (276-148) size 1.5″ x 1.75″ $2
6.  2 – 4.7k resistors $1
7.  3 – 0.01 uF capacitors $1.50
8.  1 – 1.0 uF Ta capacitor $1
9.  1- 14 pin DIP IC socket $1
9.  2 – general purpose NPN transistors (example: 2n2222 or 2n3904) $1
10.  Single AA battery holder salvaged from air freshener
11.  Single throw Single pole mini slide switch salvaged from air freshener
12.   AA battery salvaged from air freshener
13.  Hook up wire
14.  Optional – Stained Glass Copper Foiling Tape (available at Hobby Lobby or other
stores that deal with Stained Glass supplies)


1.  Solder gun and solder $8
2.  Wire cutters
3.  Needle nosed pliers
4.  Drill and drill points (I prefer brad points for cutting plastic project boxes.)
5.  hand or powered jig saw
6.  Hot glue gun and hot glue

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