We’ve seen numerous products geared toward tracking the location and activities of your pets, two in the last month, but we feel sure you can make more functional devices than those you can purchase. Let’s look at a few and consider our options.
A camera called Pet’s Eye View hangs from your pet’s collar and takes photos in your choice of 1, 5, and 15 minute intervals. While the concept is good, the execution is poor: it can only take up to 35 images at 640 x 480px with no other resolution options available, and it has no expandable media slot. We also dislike the lack of GPS tracking, but wouldn’t really expect that for the $45 price.
For GPS pet tracking, Garmin has recently introduced their Astro System, which consists of a collar with a GPS and a tracking unit. Like most Garmin GPS product, this one is functional, full featured, and a great match of function and technology. We like live pet location tracking, we just don’t have $600 to spend on keeping tabs on the dog.
A homemade solution we like a lot more than the two commercial ones is [J. Perthold]’s CatCam. Starting with a $20 keychain camera with a 1.3 megapixel resolution and an SD card slot, [Perthold] removed the casing and connected the board to an Attiny2313 microcontroller programmed to trigger the camera periodically. He built a small lightweight case for his modded camera and strapped it to his cat, [Mr. Lee]. This works out to essentially the same product as the Pet’s Eye View camera, but at least twice as good by almost every applicable metric.
One thing we love about the CatCam is the fact that it uses SD media. If you were to use an Eye-Fi instead of regular media, you could have a camera that is superior to the Pet’s Eye View and does geotagging all in one package. It’s not as useful as true live GPS, but at least you’ll know exactly where your pet went when you collect the photos. In addition, if the dog is still within your home network’s range, you should be able to see images as they stream in. If building an Eye-Fi enabled CatCam is too much work, consider using and Eye-Fi with CHDK in a Canon camera. This will give you the timed photography and the geotagging in an easy to build package. Hopefully you pick a small camera unless your pet has a strong neck. You could use some of time-lapse photography techniques we posted earlier to time whatever device you end up using.