Thermostat Results

Richard Webb

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Hi guys - The thermostat idea was a great success in 106 degree weather.  I didn't get one blank frame all week, and the cam did snap a deer passing by on Monday at 0:41 AM.  The temperature had to be 70 degrees (or below) when the picture was taken.  It's probably a little too tight, so I moved the thermostat up to 80 degrees for the next couple of weeks of testing.  We'll see what happens?





(Edited by Richard Webb at 4:21 pm on July 16, 2001)
 



Archilochus

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Hi Richard,
Good to hear your experiments are going well.  I wonder if one of those battery powered programmable thermostats would eliminate the need to level the thermostat?  Probably cost 10 times as much though....  

Archilochus
 

BowDoc

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I have a battery thermostat in my house and I had to level it
 

Jon Bain

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Okay Richard, you're going to have to help me out here.  I checked your log on your web page just now and the last entry is 7/9/01.  Today is the 7/7/01.  And what happened to "Roll Two"?  Your not doctoring the books are you?  Just funning with you.  You've done a great job with your web site and documenting all the ups and downs with building one of these things.  Keep us up to date.  I enjoy visiting your site to see what you have going on. JB
 

Jon Bain

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I see the date was changed.  Hehe ;)  I was out yesterday fooling around with my camera trying to find a place for it and ran into all kinds of problems.  I placed it on a stump devoid of any thing that might reflect the flash, but I could not get the PIR to pick up any motion.  When I'd move the camera up away from the stump and ground it would work.  I ended up putting it back on the same tree I had it on.  I do not know what was causing the malfunction.  The unit was about 16 inches off the ground and in the shade, but as long as it was on this stump it would not work.  Any ideas?
 

Richard Webb

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Hi Jon - That Radio Shack PIR is a little unpredictable at times, but it's the perfect size for a mini cam.  I like how the PIR Sensor is mounted at a right angle, so that it will fit under the Owl. At first I had a little trouble with alignment, but later I ground off the standoff in the bottom right hand corner of the RS Hobbie Box enclosure.  That way the PIR Board will slide up against the wall for good positive positioning. This mounting works best in Chime Mode, but when it's in Alarm Mode the far side of the PIR Board will lift up a little putting it a little out of alignment. My second roll of film was a complete disaster with 25 blank frames. It seems like the RS PIR doesn't like temperatures above 100 degrees. So, I put one of your cams in an ammo can with a thermostat. I'm also building one of Tinhorn's 6 volt MS20 cams for testing, but that thing is full of unsolved problems. Trying to catch up with the yard work.
Ammended:

Forgot to mention that I only used one switch, and it was a RS Center Off Toggle Switch (#275-620A). The PIR can be turned off by unsnapping the 9 volt battery.  Also, I tried Arch's window box idea, and the day time pictures look a little sharper. (could be my imagination?), but the flash travels through the plexiglass to wash out the night pictures. For window glaze on your cam box I used 1/16 inch plexiglass, but it still causes the box to bulge a little.  Hope that the weather stripping will compensate for it.  On one of the cams I glued the plexiglass on the outside, so during the rainy season we'll see what happens?    

(Edited by Richard Webb at 9:20 am on July 8, 2001)
 

Archilochus

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Hi Richard,
I've been looking over some test pics from my Owl PF's and there is a slight -but definite- improvement in pic quality with the sensors exposed vs with sensors covered.  With my Fuji 60's there was a great improvement in quality when I tested them.

You'll want to use a separate window for the flash.  The lens and sensors can all be one piece (as in the pic of my cam)

Archilochus
 

Richard Webb

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Hi Arch - I have future plans for your window cam idea. Out west we go for months without rain, so I plan to remove the plexiglass window.  But first, I need a timer that will hold the half shutter button down for a couple of seconds for the green light to come on. I doubt if this will effect the total time, because the Owl PF seems to lag for 2 seconds anyway. What would I have to do to your 4538B Timer to simply hold the half shutter for the green light trick? These Blacktail Deer out here have different habits, like they always trail under, and about 6 - 8 feet out from the trunk of scrub oak. That is why I'm working on Tinhorn's 6 volt MS20 idea. i.e, I need the 110 degree wide angle while working close in the bushes. However, I can't get Tinhorn's 6 volt model off the ground, but of course, Jesse's 9 volt MS20 is working okay. Thanks Jesse! Luckily, I'm a Ham, and found a 6 ea "D" Size battery holder with a typical 9 volt snap connector at the Ham Flea Market last week. I have Jesse's 9 volt model in an ammo can, powered by the flea market "D" size battery bank, and with the MS20 swivel mount assembly on the outside of the can. That way I will have full advantage of the 110 degree wide angle, and can also turn the swivel mount up trail a ways for a little windage.  

(Edited by Richard Webb at 10:09 pm on July 8, 2001)
 

Archilochus

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Hi Richard,
Out West maybe it won't be a problem, but here in the North East we have some irritating ants that will move into the cameras if there is an opening big enough for them to get in.  Other things might also be tempted to move into your cams if you leave the windows open.
>>>>>>>>>>>>
Your idea for the shutter timing is similar to the circuit I made for my cameras that have a power-down feature (the Fuji 60-AF and Canon Elph-LT)  Only difference is I made the circuit to overcome the shutdown - but no reason it couldn't be used for your idea too.
First, you'll need to use two separate relays (or opto-couplers) - one for the 1/2 shutter press and the second for the full shutter press.
When motion is detected,  you'll need the first relay - the 1/2 press relay - to turn on for ~4 seconds.  About 2 seconds into the first relays "on-time" , you'll want the second relay - the full press relay - to turn on for about 2 seconds.  The result will be the shutter is pressed half-way for 2 seconds, followed by 2 seconds of full shutter press with no shutter release between the 1/2 and full press.

To achieve this, you'll need a three stage timer.  The first stage would be for ~2 seconds.  Its rising edge would start the 4 second 1/2 press timer, and its falling edge would start the full press 2 second timer.  The 4538's are ideal for this because they are triggered by the rising (or falling) *edge* of the input signal - not the voltage *level* the way a 555 is.
If using 4538's (which have two timers per IC), you'll end up with one extra timer which can then be used as your adjustable pic delay timer.
>>>>>>>>>
Before going to the trouble of actually building this timer, maybe a bit of experimentation is in order.  Try taking some pics with various lighting conditions - some with the shutter pressed fully imediately - leaving no time for the AF to work.  Alternate those with pics taken with the shutter pressed and held half way for a second or two, then depressed fully.  Don't release the shutter from the 1/2 press position - just press it down the rest of the way.  Compare the pics to see if there is any difference.
If the pic results show a difference, then the 3 stage timer might be worth the extra effort.  I'll draw up a schematic for this idea and post back in this thread when it's done.

Archilochus
 

Richard Webb

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Arch - Thanks again for all the help. There's an Owl PF Review out  that says that there are only 3 AF positions.  One of the Reviews agree with my complaint about the flash over exposing close up shots.  So, maybe a 3 stage timer isn't the answer?  But, I'll probable do it anyway just for the fun of it.  
 

xiimpulse

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Hey guys, I was wondering were exactally do you wire in the thermostat? I am having the same temp issue with mine that I built. Thanks, Love the pics you post too. Thanks again.

Paul
 

Richard Webb

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Hi xiimpulse - I use the thermostat to break contact with the shutter wires just to be on the safe side.  The thermostat could also break the wires to the relay, but I didn't want to run battery current to the outside of the enclosure. It's a good idea to have a drain at the bottom of a trail cam, just in case, so I installed a (closed circuit type) Submini Phone Jack (Radio Shack # 274-292A) on the side of the mini cam near the bottom. Then on the 2 wires from the thermostat I have the Plug (Radio Shack #274-289C). That way the trail cam will still work when the thermostat is unplugged. The thermostat spring will rust, so a shot of WD40 is needed once in a while. I'm looking for a cheap level that is the length of a ammo can, so I can mount it permanently.

Forgot something:  The Jack can be wired wrong, so check it with a blank plug before attaching the thermostat. Also, bears love WD40, so don't use that stuff in bear country.    


(Edited by Richard Webb at 11:03 am on July 10, 2001)
 

Richard Webb

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Hi Arch - That's fantastic. I only have one of the 4538B ICs, but the electronics store promised to reorder when I purchased that one. Is it possible to use the 4th timer to keep the Owl PF awake with a half shutter every few minutes, or will that drain the batteries? It sounds like I will end up with 4 relays, one for each timer?  
 

Archilochus

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Hi Richard,
You'll only need two relays (or optos-couplers) - one for the 1/2 shutter contact, and one for the full shutter contact.  The first  timer stage "A" is an adjustable, nonretriggerable picture delay that eliminates taking several pics of the same subject in a row (adjusts from ~15 sec to ~1.5 min)  The second timer stage "B" is a trigger for the last two timer stages "C" and " D".  The "B" timer is needed to generagte the proper shutter sequence that makes a 1/2 shutter press followed by a full press.
I suppose you could ignore the first timer stage "A" and use the PIR output to trigger the "B" stage directly - but since there are two timers per IC, it seemed like a waste to not use the extra one as a delay timer.
>>>>>
Unlike the 555, the 4538B is only a monostable timer and cannot be used to generate a frequency (as far as I know)  So it can not be used as a wake-up timer.  What could be done is to use a logic "OR" gate at timer "C"s input and run a long period clock to one of the "OR" gate inputs.  The rising edge of the clock at the "OR" gate would trigger timer "C" which would drive the half shutter press relay only and keep the cam awake without taking a pic.  NOTE - some cams cannot be kept awake with a 1/2 shutter press.  You have to wait for the cam to shut down and then give a FULL shutter press.
I have two Fuji 60AFs and a Canon Elph LT that use wake-up timers.  The power consumption does not seem to be lowered on either cam.  I also have one Owl PF with a wake-up timer and one without and battery life is the same for both cams.

Archilochus
 

d91

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Richard,
Put a round bubble level (a couple bucks from a hardware store) on top of your enclosure and then mount your thermostat inside your case. As long as you don't have an HVAC system installed, the inside of the case will usually be pretty close to the ambient air temperature.
 

Richard Webb

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Hi Arch - I found the capacitors in tiny sub mini Tantalum size.  But, the 100 MFD 16V is a mini Electrolytic stand up type in a metal case (3/8" Tall X 3/16" Dia). I hope that C5 & C6 0.01 uF can be Tantalums? Because, that's what I found. Should they be mylar or ceramic? San Jose & Silicon Valley is 40 miles over the hill from me, so if you need something that is hard to find I can drop it in the mail to you. Fry's had the Pelican Cases in Yellow, and plenty of that micro controller stuff that I don't understand yet. Looks like this trail cam hobby has plenty of room to grow. Do you think that your timer would catch a pulse from the 49-425 Speaker Wires? How fast is it?

Hi d91 - Installing the thermostat on the inside of the ammo can is a good idea, and that is where it probably will end up.  Or, maybe some sort of digital temperature sensor with micro controller? The $10 Thermostat was an after thought, and my ammo can had holes already cut out in the middle not leaving enough room for the thermostat on the inside. I checked it yesterday, and it didn't see anything under the tree for 2 days. So, I moved to to where 5 or 6 trails all convene at the head of a ravine above the lake. It should get plenty of action there, and the trail cam is looking a dry grass out in the sun. We will see what happens?  



(Edited by Richard Webb at 11:07 pm on July 12, 2001)
 

Archilochus

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Hi Richard,
The tantalum caps should do fine for all of the caps in the circuit.  I do remember reading that tantalums should not be used in timing circuits, but I can't remember what the reason was.  I'll see if I can relocate that info.  I've been using tantalum caps in some of my circuits with no problems.  Aluminum electrolytic type caps are OK too.  Just remember that the polarity markings for aluminum electrolytic and tantalums are reversed!
"C5" and "C6" are supposed to be .1uF, but .01uF will work just as well.
I forgot to note in the schematic - Diodes "D1" - "D4" can be any general purpose rectifier with ~1 amp rating.  Something like the 1N4001 type.
>>>>>>
The circuit should be powered from the 49-425's *regulated* 5V supply.  If you use the speaker wires as a trigger, you'd be applying raw 9V battery voltage to the input of the 4538.  This will damage the 4538 and possibly even the 49-425 circuitry.  Since the input of the 4538 draws almost no current, just use the pin #2 of the big IC to trigger the 4538.
Just as a note though - the 4538 can trigger on a pulse as short as 140 nanoseconds, or .00000014 seconds.  The speaker frequency is ~1kHz, or .001 seconds per cycle.
>>>>>>
Thanks for the offer to pick up the hard-to-find parts.  Between Mouser Electronics
< http://www.mouser.com > and Digi-Key < http://www.digikey.com > I can usually find everything needed.  Mouser has better prices, but Digi-Key ships for free on orders over 25 US$ and tends to ship a lot faster.
>>>>>>
I sure would like to learn all about how to use micro-controllers.  I'd build something like Jaggermaxs' circuit instead of fiddling around with all these timers and such!  Perhaps we could convince him to part with his code???

Archilochus
 

Richard Webb

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Hi Arch - Now that you mention it, I also remember something about not using tantalum caps in timer circuits. But, I'm still trying to stay with Jon's mini cam enclosure. We have two monthly ham radio flea markets in this area. (The First Sunday & Second Saturday of every month) There is plenty of the micro controller gadgetry laid out if a guy knew what to look for.
 

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