Random Thoughts


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Alright, enough already of all the electronics yah-yah...how about some other technical goodies?

Here are a few ideas I thought I'd pass along:

Tried And True:  ammo cans, Nestle Quick containers, Pelican cases, pistol cases, electrical junction boxes, custom fiberglass...

Unbroken Ground:  How about making a camera housing by taking two metal one gallon rectangular paint thinner cans and cutting and brazing them together to make one unit, similar to an ammo can?  Advantages are cheap, easy to attain, and highly workable.  Disadvantages?  Well, do you know how to braze?

Did you know that a MS20 sensor (less its top lid, of course)  will fit neatly and snugly into a typical 14.5oz vegetable can?  Hmmm....if you could just braze or solder that to the bottom of your custom paint can housing....or glue it to the bottom of your Nestle Quick container...

This is a highly useful piece of material that I've not heard anyone mention before.  Pipe insulation is perfect for isolating the camera lens and the flash.  I use 1" pipe insulation by cutting a 1/2" ring that perfectly fits inside the housing around the opening for my Owl camera lens.  Once the camera is snugged up to it, the lens peaks through the inside hole, out the glass and at whatever passes by, with little or no effect from the terrible flash washout.  For the flash, I use a smaller piece of 3/4" pipe insulation lined with aluminum foil.

Black Permatex, which is sold in automotive sections and supply stores, is a type of silicone that is used for gasket making.  Extremely durable, it stands up well to the cold and works on all surfaces.  As the name suggests, it is a permanent bond, so use it on whatever you don't plan on removing later.

Marine epoxy sticks are great for filler and adhesion.  This product has proved its merit for me in the cold of December as I patched a dirty and wet leaking aluminum duckboat.  That marine epoxy never has turned loose from that hull.  It works great on camera components as well.

Adhesives I stay away from are RTV silicone (works good, but Permatex is much better) and hot glue guns.  RTV silicone has great initial adhesion, but after it cures completely, it can get knocked loose easily and will come off in one great big ol' piece.  Hot glue seems so convenient, but doesn't adhere to metal, plastic or glass well at all.  Especially when it cools down.  Much less in the cold of winter.

(About what I just mentioned, I am not looking to argue about anything, I am just sharing MY experiences.)

Powersonic batteries are among the most favored status of camera builders.  Another less known (and sometimes free) source for these batteries are discarded emergency lights.  Sometimes electricians replace these light fixtures in businesses, but the backup power supply (which in a lot of cases is a Powesonic battery) is still good.  However, they get thrown out with the rest of the light fixture.  Contact your local commercial electrical contractor for details.

How can you get a good commercial quality camo finish on your prized homebrew cam?  Go to your local fabric distributor, purchase some material of your favorite camo design (Mossy Oak, Realtree, etc...) and then apply it with epoxy to the outside of your housing as you would lay up fiberglass cloth.  How do you lay up fiberglass cloth?  First, you wet the surface to which you intend to apply the cloth.  Then you lay the cloth down smooth.  Finally, you brush on an additional coat of epoxy over the cloth.  The finish should be somewhat similar to a glossy film dip camo.

(Warning!  I haven't personally tried this, but I have been told it will work.  I think it's a good idea.)

My nod for this goes to cheap picture frames (small ones) from Wally World and plate glass from a hardware store.  One full window pane from Lowe's only cost me $1.90 tax, title and other fees, but it will probably do 20 cameras.  No exaggeration.

Also, if you need a custom shape, such as a circular shape, it is possible to grind the edges ever so carefully with a table mounted grinder until the desired shape is attained.  Do that at your own risk!

These are just a few of my ideas and methods for building cameras.  Just for the record, this is all based on my experience only.  And the "what if" ideas have not all been tried yet, but why don't you go ahead?  Tell me how it turns out.

Let us all know your tips for building cams too.


Well-known member
Hi Welby,
Thanks for the tips.  I never thought of getting batteries that way!

I'll toss in a few of my own ideas....

Back when I used to do a fair bit of car restoration I got pretty handy with the ol' sewing machine.  If you buy the camo patterns from the fabric store you can just sew up a camo cover for your trail-cams.  I have different pattern covers to suit different habitats - some white ones for winter use, 'sand' for beach / dune use, and an "urban camo" cover for suburban thief-catching.  The formless shape of a sewn cover (rather than glued-on/taped-on camo) also helps to disguise the cam - less "hard" angles and such.

For cutting / shaping glass nothing compares to a stained glass cutting bandsaw.  Lacking that, with a good cutter and a stained glass grinder, just about any shape can be made. I know most don't have this equipment in their shop, but a person could take a pattern down to a stained glass shop and get a bunch of 'em cut.

Hope to see lots more ideas added - maybe post them all in an FAQ section.



Well-known member
I have often given some thought of covering my cameras with a camo type cloth. The problem with some of our paint jobs is they look so good they almost stick out. If I were to cover them with some camo cloth, let it kind of "hang down" off of the camera, it may break up the outline better.

Since hunting season is approaching we may need to take greater measures to hide the cams so they do not fall into enemy hands.


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UH OH!!!!!  I made a mistake...sorry.

The black Permatex I use IS N0T the gasket maker Permatex - that is made of RTV Silicone.  The black Permatex that I use and harp the virtues of is the Permatex Black Silicone Adhesive Sealant.  It has a model number (?) of 16B or 16BR.

I do not and have not used the Permatex Black Gasket Maker silicone.


Well-known member
MY 2cents worth,

i like a painted finish, its easy and fun,

i take gray primer, red oxide primer, flat sage green and flat black,

i start with a base color, doesnt matter which one,  then lay leaves or twigs across the box then spray another color then move the leaves around and add another color, making a camo pattern on the box. a light mist coat of flat black will tone it all down and break up any reflections you might have.



Well-known member
Another idea(someone a ways back mentioned it) for a cam housing would be a 6" or 8" diameter PVC pipe about 3" long (One foot of pipe would make about 3 or 4 cams). Two end caps with one of them glued and the other screwed(predrill through cap and pipe). You would then just cut out your holes for everything and you'd have a pretty tough housing.
Please keep in mind I've never done this but the thought has crossed my mind. I have a piece of old well casing lying around somewhere but just never got around to trying it out.


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Gizz >> Then you could glue some tree bark to it and it would look like a log.....



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Ok Welby,

Here is some more MS20 Information but I slipped in some Electronic Info, well, it's how I mounted a relay to the PIR so maybe that's not electronics after all

Ms20 Hole Information:  shows how I have the PIR looking out a hole in the enclosure.  The paint is from Walmarts Sewing section, they have millions of colors to choose from ($1 / bottle)  That's actually a round hole in the Photo, my drawing is rounder than that photo for some reason  :E

MS20 Reed Relay Installation (up side down 5v relay)  (The Blue Wires are the Contact Leads, Red & Black are power leads-6v lantern battery in my case)


(Edited by Tinhorn at 9:22 am on Sep. 7, 2001)


Well-known member
Here's an idea for making a device to seal off the camera lens from the dreaded Flash Washout....

Using some black Sculpey modeling clay (yes, from Walmart), make a block about 1/2" thick and 1-1/8" square.  Press the lens face of your Owl camera so that you make a great impression mold of the lens area of your camera.  Remove the camera and then place the Sculpey impression mold in the oven to harden.  After it cools, cut the center out where the lens peaks through and there, you have a great device for keeping the flash from wiping out your lens view.  And, it helps to snug your camera up to the glass well also.

Now, I HAVE NOT tried this yet, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work.  I will try it though on my next cam.


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One more idea...

Has anyone tried inverting the MS20's circuit board so that the Test/Auto switch is in the up position?  It appears that the PIR component is in exactly the center of the board so flipping it would not actually change its position in relation to the Fresnel lens.

I have tested fitted it, and it seems to fit into the grooves just as well this way, but you have to be a little more careful rerouting the wires.

What's the advantage of this?  Well, if you were to mount the MS20 inside a housing with the lid removed, you wouldn't have to make an opening in the bottom of your housing for the Test/Auto switch, that is if you were going to make use of the MS20's built in time delay feature.  The switch would be accessible from inside the cam and that would be one less thing you would have to worry about sealing off from the outside world.

Just an idea I plan on incorporating into my next cam...no external switches.  Completely watertight and waterproof.

(Edited by Welby at 11:56 pm on Sep. 10, 2001)


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I had suggested to someone that his wife could sew up a camo cloth cover for his camera.  He told me that cloth would hold scent and that paint would be better.  How long would the scent  last on a piece of cloth?


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I got the same response from someone about camo cloth tape.  Well, I've got pictures of deer walking in front of the camera less than 3 hours after setting it out...........and w/o scent eliminator spray or the like.


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Someone may have mentioned this awhile back, but I thought it was a worthwhile tip to bring up again.  Another great item to use as sort of a gasket for the camera lens (to prevent flash washout) is a foam rubber mouse pad.  They are easy to get, very cheap, and you can cut them to any shape very easily.


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Sumpin' else...

I have inverted the MS20 board in its housing on a camera I built.  It works just as well upside down as it does right side up.  This gives the camera builder/owner the advantage of easier accessibility to the Test/Auto slide switch inside the camera housing without having to go to the trouble of cutting another hole in the bottom of the housing (if you use something like an ammo can).


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I am contemplating building two more housings in anticipation of a canon owl christmas.hehehe
I just purchased from Home Depot one empty plastic dremel case and a Ryobi case less the tools  from clearance table. Apparently shoplifters steal tools out of boxes and leave boxes behind. $2.00 each.


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Battery Life Calculations:

It's bad practice to put battery's in Parallel because the weakest runs down the strongest to it's level!

No matter how many battery's are used, as long as they are in Series then this Calculation is valid. (total volts don't matter)

Battery Life formula based on a current draw of 1.6 ma's, about what the MS20 draws.  You can get a rough idea of battery life from this table, it won't be exact.  The RS uses considerably less than 1.6ma's so the batt's will last lots longer......

PIR drawing 1.6 ma's:

6v lantern........9.5 months
D size.............10 months
C size.............5 months
AA size...........1.7 months
9v transistor....15 days


Steve Jo

Well-known member
Thanks for the info on parrallel power sources, I didnt know that.

Can you refresh my memory tinhorn?

On C and D cell batteries, are they 1.5v apiece? and if so that would take 6 in series to make a 9v power sourece?

Thanks for the help


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Owl PF Disassembly review

Cut off the Strap and remove 8 screws,one inside the film compartment almost under the film "Wind Up" spool near the door Latch.

Remove the L shaped shroud from around the Film Door, starting at the camera bottom end.  Then slide out the shutter Button/counter view window.

you will take off the front cover by starting at the Strap End - Take your finger nail (if you have finger nails) and pry up a little on the cover bottom near the Batt Door and gently start removing the cover, it will also have to spring out a little over the Strap's old location as well as the Tripod Mounting nut.  When the cover swings out, you will have to "Unhook" it from the Door Latch Mechanism.

Don't touch the Flash Area are you might be sorry (shock hazard)

I drill a 1/8" hole for the wires just over the 1st "N" in the word "Canon"

To Reinstall the Cover:

Important, 'CLOSE' the lens cover, otherwise, it could bend the cam power contacts for On/Off

Hook the front cover over the Door Latch Mechanism 1st then work your way up to the Strap Location.  Once it snaps in place, you can pry up a little on the front cover bottom with your finger nails and slide the Batt Door back in place (I mark the (+) side of this door with a RED magic marker for batt post ID conveniece)

slide on the Counter Cover (a little difficult)

To get the rear shroud back on (and off) the film door has to be open, watch the door hinge pin don't slide down a little and get in the way.

I run the new wires thru the Strap location and tape off to hold them secure and glue over the hole they come out of.....do everything possible to keep the wires from getting jerked off the solder traces....



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Date/Time Stamp Battery Info:

older Owl AF7 with the round dial:
Owl PF:

Gizz says  both use CR2025 (3V)
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