Trail camera equipment

Using trail cameras to survey bats in trees – Equipment list

In Research, Tree climbing by batsadmin6 Comments

A few people have been asking what trail camera equipment we are using in our research project. In this blog post, I will run through this equipment and where to get it from.

Overall, this setup should cost you about £230. As we bought in bulk, we lowered this setup cost to under £200.

Trail camera

Starting with the camera. We are using Spypoint Force Dark cameras. We selected these cameras as they have the shortest trigger time on the market. They also have ‘no-glow’ LEDs, which reduces potential disturbance to the bats. We have not trialed other makes/models but I am sure others would perform just as well.

At the time of writing, the cheapest retailer is Camera Centre UK (£145).

Spypoint Force Dark

Batteries

To power the camera you will need a power source. Both AA batteries and the lithium ion battery packs did not last long enough for our needs. Instead we reached for an external battery. We are using 18650 batteries in a battery pack. This requires a bit of soldering but is well worth it, as it allows the camera to be powered for several months (instead of a couple of weeks).

We are using LG MJ1 – 18650 Battery – 3500mAh – 10A batteries. When buying your 18650 batteries, do not use Amazon or eBay – there are too many people selling rubbish batteries on there. Instead buy them from a UK store. We used NuBattery who sell them for about £7 per battery. We bought in bulk and were given retailer prices, which was about £4 per battery.

You will need three batteries in series. You can double this to six batteries with 2x three batteries wired in parallel. There are plenty of retailers selling the boxes on Amazon such as this one (£7.99 for six boxes). If you are lucky, you might find some with the jack connectors already attached. Depending on the camera you are using, you may need a different connector. The Spypoint Force Dark cameras take standard 2.1mm x 5.5mm jacks – see here (£3 for three jacks).

Battery packs
3 batteries in series (left) and 2x 3 batteries in parallel (right)

Boom mount

To install the camera outside the roost, we have been using PIXAPRO wall-mounted boom-arms (£44). We use two ratchet straps to fix the camera in position (£8 for two).  

On top of the mount we are using flash brackets (£10). These allow the final adjustment to allow you to get the camera in the sweet spot!

If you try this trail camera equipment, do let us know how you get on. 🦇🙂

Cameras on boom arm

Comments

  1. So the 3.6v 18650 battery pack supply works works with the Camera that Would normally be supplied with 6v by its own battery pack?

    1. Author

      The cameras we use require 12v via the external battery port. Three batteries in series makes approximately 11v. This approach has worked for us.

      1. Hi, so what distance range are you aiming for, camera to roost entrance?

        When is your paper on this research coming out please?

        1. Author

          Hi Lynn,

          To avoid false-triggers – from moving branches – we have positioned the cameras quite close. For woodpecker holes, 40cm seems to work well. For split features, it would need to be further away to pick up the entire feature.

          Hopefully our paper will be published this year.

          Jim

    1. Author

      Glad you like it. I think it may be the best thing I have ever seen! 🦇🤜🐿️😍

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