Guardin, Guarding the Garden: Turn Raspberry Pi Into a 3rd Eye

If you are a gardener, you’ll know only too well the distress of seeing your hard work turned into a free lunch for passing herbivorous wildlife. It’s something that has evidently vexed [Jim], because he’s come up with an automated Raspberry Pi-controlled turret to seek out invading deer, and in his words: “Persuade them to munch elsewhere”.

Before you groan and sigh that here’s yet another pan and tilt camera, let us reassure you that this one is a little bit special. For a start, it rotates upon a set of slip rings rather than an untidy mess of twisted cables, so it can perfom 360 degree rotations at will, then it has a rather well-designed tilting cage for its payload. The write-up is rather functional but worth persevering with, and he’s posted a YouTube video that we’ve placed below the break.

This is a project that still has some way to go, for example just how those pesky deer are to be sent packing isn’t made entirely clear, but we think it already shows enough potential to be worthy of a second look. The slip ring mechanism in particular could find a home in many other projects.

It’s worth reminding readers that while pan and tilt mechanisms can be as impressive as this one, sometimes they are a little more basic.

Deer header pic (Not in [Jim]’s garden), B26 (CC BY 3.0).

16 thoughts on “Guardin, Guarding the Garden: Turn Raspberry Pi Into a 3rd Eye

  1. Couple one of these with a water canon or water rocket or acoustic hailing device and that would be really really impressive. Could identify the invasive nuisance and counter assault with sounds that are scary to the nuisance maybe even for something more subtle.

    1. I’ve always used a radio under a bucket, tuned to a talk radio station. Don’t need the volume very loud, just loud enough you can hear it above the background noise at the fence edge. Ever since starting doing that at the suggestion of my girlfriend’s dad, I haven’t had an issue with deer eating things out of my garden.

      Apparently the sound of humans talking is enough to keep the deer away around here. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. Garlic. Plant lots around all the plants you wish to protect. Works perfectly and they’ll avoid the whole area even when very hungry late in the fall. My house is in the path of deer going to the river and back. I have no problems with my plants anymore. The deer go through my neighbors property now :P

      1. Steep garlic powder, chili powder in vinegar for a day (less if you heat up the vinegar). Then pour it through a coffee filter and dilute it around 1:10 with water and spray it around or on your plants.
        Not as satisfying as dousing pests with water jets and it requires reapplication after rain but it’s pretty effective. Urine from a carnivore (or a person who’s eaten a couple steaks) near the garden works too.

          1. I’d be worried about garlic and chili flavors lingering in the basket since most are plastic. The vinegar is fine, most coffee pots need descaled anyways.

          2. Maybe if you left it to sit, don’t think it would be that bad if you washed it in dish soap soon after, otherwise all my cookware and utensils would taste of garlic and chili…. But heh, I’m getting creatively lazy in my middle age, trying to two birds one stone everything.

    3. Aren’t deer pretty easily spooked? A loud noise, irregular so they don’t get used to it, would do. Or flash some lights or, as may be the case, squirt ’em in the eye with water. Bit of water won’t harm them through all that fur.

      Another option might be some sort of aerosol predator scent, can you get those for animal control? Or perhaps lion shit. You can buy that commercially packaged from garden suppliers. I don’t suppose lions are a natural predator where Jim lives, but if I smelled one I’d run anyway.

  2. You can get a drone with WiFi and camera for less than a Pi. Use the motor outputs for the motion control. (I just got one of the little pocket ones and am amazed how little the whole controller is. In fact, I’m amazed it works.)

  3. I’m working on a similar system for deterring squirrels. I’m working out the software details before I build a turret. I’m thinking of using an airsoft gun with biodegradable pellets. Are you using a water gun? My neighbors who’ve used motion detecting water sprinklers to deter squirrels tell me that they soon ignore it. They want the goodies more than they care about getting wet. I don’t know how deer will react.

    I’m working out all the software details before I build the turret. I don’t think the raspi is fast enough with current software to detect squirrels. It takes several seconds per frame. It might be good enough for deer with pre-processing. I’m using darknet YOLO for the CNN. I’ve also been using a Jevois smart camera to do the detection. It’s a pretty nice piece, especially given the low cost. I’m able to detect test images with no problem, but I’m a bit stuck detecting the rascals in the wild. It will probably be easier with deer.

  4. I live out in the country where the odd noise doesn’t seem to bother the neighbors. I have a pi and cam watching my garden, and it sends a packet to my living room pi (which does other things like background radio) which causes it to announce motion. I then have some options – if I feel like it, I can go out with a pistol and scare the willies out of them (I don’t shoot them, just the ground nearby, which hits them with kicked up dirt on top of the noise) – but that’s too much work (the garden is on the other side of a barn from here), so I adopted just a remote relay to turn on an old shop vac right next to the garden. They jump and run – which is as a byproduct, pretty entertaining to watch on the camera. If they should learn that trick, compressed air from the barn and a solenoid hasn’t yet failed to drive off ANY animal I’ve encountered out here (including bears). They quickly got used to my turning on a kw halogen work light – to make the camera work better….

    I have no interest in harming the wildlife here – as far as that goes, I kinda created this habitat for them in what is otherwise farming country (and not everyone around likes that, as these guys make trouble for farmers). But boundaries have to be drawn, and this method works pretty well…

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