RC controlled camera takes intimate video of rodents

[Leor] wanted to take some video of the wildlife in his yard, like this chipmunk or some hummingbirds, but every time he tried to get close it scared them away. His solution was to rig up a cheap video recorder to be radio controlled (PDF). The donor camera was a cheap SD card based eBay purchase that takes 720×480 video. [Leor] removed the SMD switches from the recorder’s PCB and wired up a 4066 quad bi-lateral switch IC in its place. An RC toy car donated the receiver transmitter pair. The receiver signals are monitored by an AVR microcontroller which translates the commands in a proper set of button presses for the video. What you get is a controller that and turn the camera on and set to the proper mode, and the ability to start and stop the recording.

We’ve got some pics of the hardware after the break, and [Leor] posted a bit of the chipmunk video for your enjoyment.

The component boards (click to enlarge):

Inside the enclosure:

Finished product:

Comments

  1. biozz says:

    well cheaper than a telephoto lens i guess

  2. bioss says:

    Well, if we always turned to nice, commercially built solutions like telephoto lenses then there wouldn’t be many hacks to post about, huh? In this right application this is better than a telephoto lens with consideration to space, line of sight, etc. I like it ’cause it the remote could easily be activated autonomously without a lot more work.

  3. Mikey says:

    How come facebook hack-a-day comments don’t show up with the non-facebook comments? You guys should fix that.

  4. Dirwin says:

    they shouldnt “fix” that , they should just hack it onto the web page with a drop bot or something, preferably using an arduino

  5. “they should fix that” I like how you said that dude, as I’m sure you do realize that this is a hacking blog. Here, shit doesn’t get “fixed” it either gets hacked or kluged. I vote to “fix” the problem with arduinos, lasers, and duct tape.

  6. lamikam says:

    If anyone is interested, I will post the schematic and code detail later on. Send an email to nobody102@gmail.com

    Thanks!

  7. biozz says:

    @bioss

    someone has something up there ass just looking to bitch at something

    all i said is it was cheaper than a telephoto lens i never said it was any less useful n00b

  8. lamikam says:

    Yea, I’m thinking my next mod to this is to hook-up a Lego NXT utrasonic sensor for motion detection to auto-record. Stay tuned!

  9. Coligny says:

    Exposed wiring for a rodent observation device…

    Somebody didn’t get the memo… or like to replace chewed wiring…

  10. Trollicus says:

    That rodent looks kinda smarmy to me, I think he’s up to somethin’ better watch him closely. What is he carrying in his pouches? Not just nuts I’ll wager!

    Behind that cute furry persona lies PURE EVIL!!!!

    Evil I say!! EEEEEEVIIIILLLLLL!!!!

  11. Derek X says:

    Nice hack Mike, but next time please use a proper drill and bit for the holes in your projects, it looks much more professional that way.

    biozz, you’re playing the FOOL, you’re snark had ZERO germane content to Mike Szczys hack, just what IS YOUR problem, it’s not us on the forum, it definitely YOU buddy.

  12. Great job. Beside keeping track of wildlife, you can do the same way to the other things, like a camera nears your doorbell, … lOl

  13. vonskippy says:

    Nothing as exciting as sitting around watching the grass grow and hoping something walks, flies, jumps into view so you can justify all that wasted time by hitting the record button. Personally, I’d use a motion sensor and find something else to waste time on. Unless of course you’re tracking big foot, then camp on my fellow BFH, camp on (cause you can’t catch the big guy unless you’re willing to invest your very own time behind the shutter).

  14. wangchong says:

    would just like to point out RC = Radio controlled, so then why do you need another controlled in the title? Radio controlled controlled… o.0

  15. Grovenstien says:

    Stuff those pouches my little Chipmunk friend

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    I absolutely love RC toys for RC circuits.
    I mean, how easy can you get?

    It’s all laid out for you , it’s just a matter of adaptation and there you go!

    I’ve avoided 27Mhz personally because it tends to be really noisy, but even 49Mhz can be sporadically noisy nowadays.

    I’m about to convert a radio Shack Zip-Zap car into a basic little generic relay-based RC system that I can graft onto various things to control them. Seeing stuff like this just keeps the fires lit.
    :)

    Really neat project!

  17. flapjackboy says:

    @wangchong:

    I know, it’s like PIN number, LCD display and ATM machine.

  18. ewan says:

    cheap rc toys sometimes have nice re-usable transmitter/reciver chips.

    i recently did a project with a re-purposed rc car, it was built around a chipset that had its datasheet available online, reading the datasheet i found that it even had a spare unused channel.

    27 mhz seemed to be suprisingly reliable, even at sziget festival,(big music festival in budapest) which is probably home to more radio mics, walkie-talkies and fridges than any other place in europe.

  19. M4CGYV3R says:

    Sup ‘munk! You’re all fuzzy and stuff…what’s with that? Looks like you got some nice seeds there, stuffin’ your mouth. Anyway, say ‘Hi’ to your mother for me, aight?

  20. Shorin says:

    from the title, i was worried that this was not safe for work…
    (didn’t watch the video yet)

    Please be more mindful of your titles please…?

    Either that or i need some internal datums santizationizing. ~

  21. Maneesh says:

    Nice pci

  22. James says:

    @flapjackboy

    I know, it’s almost as infuriating as “RPM’s”. Almost.

  23. James says:

    @Shorin – definitely says more about you than their title writing :)

  24. TomF says:

    I am quite impressed by the quality of that cheap camera and I wonder, what brand and model that is. (yes I want one…)

  25. lamikam says:

    Yea, I could not believe that it looks that good.
    That is the max resolution of 720×480. They have them on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/12MP-4x-Digital-Zoom-5-1-Mini-Video-Camera-Camcorder-DV-/150511503368?pt=Digital_Cameras&hash=item230b2f4808

    They all ship from Hong Kong, so it takes a while – 3 weeks, and check the shipping costs! They sell the cameras for $0.01, then charge you $26 shipping. Some sellers have lower shipping costs. They run on 6V/AAA, but I powered it with 5V, no problems.
    P.S. I do not have any affiliation with the selles.

  26. Everett says:

    Intimate videos?? Sounds like voyeur critter porn to me.

  27. MB says:

    “They sell the cameras for $0.01, then charge you $26 shipping”
    They do that cause is cheaper. What they have to pay is base on the price not on shipping. Learn the system, then beat it i guess

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