Motion activated wildlife camera (or a spy device)

Now you can capture pictures of our furry friends by building a motion activated wildlife camera. [Doug Paradis] took his Air Freshener hack and used it to trigger a camera. The white dome in the picture above is the PIR sensor from an Air Wick Freshmatic, along with a cheap keychain camera and an MSP430 microcontroller. He used one of the chips that came with the TI Launchpad, a transistor, and some discreet components to interface the devices and then put them into a project box. Now he’s got a fully configurable motion-sensing camera.


  1. Cool! Nice one.

  2. ChrisE says:

    OWM, I just finished making something similar. It uses a cheap key-chain video camera, PIR, PIC12F675, 12V SLA and a cheap remote RX/TX.

    The camera and PIR are camo-ed, and textured with a solder iron. The RF remote is used to indicate when the PIR trips for setup.

    I want to install it out in the bush where I ride my horses.

    Cool project!

  3. Michael says:

    Nice project, but instructables has made it impossible to follow with all their panhandling for $$$ on every step, blocking the extra pictures unless you pay up, etc.

  4. aboxman says:

    There is a whole forum dedicated to making these types of cameras.

    And check out his original project with many links to specific setups.

  5. BiOzZ says:

    wow we used to use things like this before we go out and hunt to make sure there are deer and no bears XD
    $60 in parts VS a $900 unit is great but it would be nice to have something you can slip a camera in to so you can review the pics on spot and spare having to take apart a $150 camera XD

  6. Whatnot says:

    Motion sensing in nature will get you a lot of images of waving leaves.
    But that’s why he uses it on his stone patio to snap squirrels of course.

  7. Amos says:

    @Whatnot: PIR sensors work by detecting quickly changing heat levels (the “IR” in “PIR”) and, last time I checked, trees are not warm-blooded :P

  8. BiOzZ says:


    PIR is Passive infrared and it detects when overall heat in its sensing area shows heat added above a threshold so leaves wont do anything you need something of decent size (like larger than a dog) that has a body temp above its threshold compared to the background
    so it wont pick up rodents, moving leaves, zombies or environmental overall heat change but it will occasionally pick up the sun threw leaves but it will also work in pitch blackness

  9. Hitek146 says:

    Nice hack, but they already have these for $30-$50 at Wal-Mart, in a custom sealed enclosure…

  10. strider_mt2k says:

    a clue for Hitek146:

    This is a hacking site, not a shopping site.

    The giggles here are found in the DOING as well as the USING.

  11. Whatnot says:

    I know how PIR works, it settles on the surroundings to a stable state then gives a signal when there is change, so yes objects that are not alive will still trigger it because of reflections, and plants of course also absorb light and its energy so leaves will have a different temperature than stone for instance, look at pictures or video in IR to see that, and although they are less warm than animals the PIR sensor will settle on the surrounding base state and respond to changes and most all objects have some IR signature.

  12. Hitek146 says:


    Thanks, but I don’t need your “clue”, as I have been doing this sort of thing myself for 25 years, and I completely understand the joy of creating for the sake of the experience and challenge. I was simply pointing out that these are readily available for those people out there that want this sort of thing, but don’t want to bother building one…

  13. walt says:

    I would have liked to read more about this, but it’s on instructables which sux! instructables BOOOO!

  14. Universaljoint says:


    Well put. This is a dilemma I’ve often run into when contemplating a project — often there is a commercial product that will do the same thing, do it better, and do it more cheaply.

    Come to think of it, that’s probably the reason why we read hacking websites, not “build it ourselves from scratch” websites…

  15. Stone says:

    Discreet components? Sure you don’t mean ‘discrete’? ;-)

  16. element_leader says:

    Even if you buy a camera, you probably still get to “hack” something together to put it in. Assholes will steal it. They have to since you have pictures of them poaching on your property.

  17. GRabo says:

    I can just imagine the “wild life” you would be able to capture.

  18. paulo says:

    hello, someone can tell me who i can put some text and crosshair in cctv camera.

  19. bowhunting tips says:

    That is definitely awesome. We’ve been bowhunting for ages and by no means considered this technique. It is undoubtedly something to consider. Thanks all over again and good luck with all your season

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