Monday, November 7, 2011

Outdoor "wildlife" camera

A several years ago a friend of mine showed me his digital wildlife camera that he was using to track deer.  I had seen these cameras out in the woods but had never had one explained to me.  They are great tools for the wildlife biologist, which he was.  He didn't work for the same outfit as I do but our offices were across the hall anyway.  We used to discuss field work a lot - or at least every time both of us were at the office, which was rare considering we avoid the office.  

I was thinking about when the mountain lion took 20 of my sheep.  I had a hard time convincing the county trapper that it was a mountain lion.  With a camera like this I would have had proof.  I asked him to order one for me.  I knew that he could get a good price since he had ordered many.  I gave him some money and that was the end of that.  Actually, it was, since he passed away not too much longer after that in a tragic accident.  I never got the camera. 

Since then the office has been pretty much just used as a storage room.  Nobody wanted to be in that office.  There were people in that office this afternoon and they were rummaging through the cabinets.  I walked in and asked if anyone has inventoried the cameras.  If so, was there an extra because my friend was supposed to have gotten one for me.  The person said that he has inventoried items but since he didn't have a starting inventory he had no idea if there were any extra or not.  He has said that a few have gone missing since his initial inventory.  I told him that one was supposed to be ordered for me and I didn't know if it ever was.  He opened the cabinet and showed me a closet full of cameras.  Since they were all inventoried he couldn't just give me one but he gave me one anyway and had me sign for it.  Not a problem.  At some point it will be straightened out but for now, I can't believe I have a camera.  

It's a Reconyx PC-900 HyperFire Professional High Output Covert Infrared camera.  Would I ever spend the money on something like this now?  No, but this was when I was single, no grand kids that I was responsible for, and had extra money.  So, now I have a camera.  

The camera can take two pictures per second.  It takes 3.1 mega-pixel photos.  During the day the pictures are color, at night monochrome.  It will print the date, time, temperature, and moon phase.  Ok, I don't need to moon phase...  When it takes the pictures at night there is no flash or red light.  You can walk right by the thing and you won't know it's there if you have it strapped to a tree.  It's pretty well camouflaged except I was given a Python Master Lock with a bright yellow lock.  Yes, that's covert...

It takes 12 AA batteries but can also be plugged into a power source.  The batteries are supposed to be able to take 40,000 pictures although that seems completely far fetched, but they also suggest using lithium or NiMH rechargeable ones.  It works in -40 to 140 degrees.  

You can set the camera up for motion or time lapse.  The motion detector works when the animal (or human) is a different temperature than the ambient air temperature.  There are two different horizontal detection bands and six different width zones within each band.  You can put up to a 32GB SD card in it for the memory card.  I only have a 2 GB  which is supposed to give me 5,000 pictures.  That will do since it's not going to be in a remote location where I won't be able to download the card often. 

I'm looking forward to setting this up.  I'd like to see what creatures roam around the barn at night.  The infrared flash works up to 50 feet or so at night.  It would also be a good tool to see if any human creatures are roaming around when I'm not there. 

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