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My "Dream" Game Camera

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My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby FireCloud » Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:20 pm

In another thread, some discussion of the new plot watcher camera has been generated. I am posting this thread to toss out some further thoughts about how I would like to see game cameras evolve. I'd like to hear what features other sportsmen want to see in a "super" game camera.

With the plot watcher camera, you have to "Do the math." If you set the plot watcher to take a picture every 10 seconds, in a day with ten hours of daylight, that works out to 3,600 photos per day or 25,200 photos in one week! That is an incredible amount of photos to take, which is why it sucks batteries down pretty fast. And why you need a 4 GB drive to hold them all. Not to mention having to cycle through 25,200 pictures to see a few shots of deer.

Like many techology gadgets, the plot watcher concept has a few flaws that I think will quickly render it obsolete by something better that comes along soon. I believe game cameras will evolve quickly enough into much more useful products. Here is what I would like to see in a game camera.

I would like to see a game camera with a built in, flip up solar panel that automatically tracks the sun using a tiny motor and some of the battery juice to power it. The cameras need high capacity, trickle rechargeable lithium or other specialty batteries designed to give long life in the field and work reliably in very cold temperatures. Lithium cells do that fairly well but currently, for instance, finding lithium rechargeable D cells is nearly impossible. I am confident by using a well designed battery pack of specialty batteries that were hooked to a built in solar trickle charger, even a camera like a plot watcher could take perhaps 100,000 or so photos (at least a month's worth) without having to check the camera.

Such cameras need to readily store the photos on a standard jump drive, or better yet, a series of jump drives, of sufficient size. Software in the camera should be able to offer a far broader variety of photo or video options and many more advanced capabilities. For example, software should be programmed to automatically compare each new picture taken by a plot watcher camera with the one immediately before and if there is sufficient changes in the scene, such as deer or something else being in the photo that were not in the prior photo, all such photos should be red flagged and stored on one of the jump drives. The software should be programmed to easily extract and display or upload all red flagged photos upon demand so you could quickly scan them to see what is in those photos. If they were stored on a seperate jump drive, you could easily swap out that drive, plug it into a viewer, and see all the most likely photos that contain deer in a very fast manner. A smart phone with a standard USB plug in connector could then be used in the field to view photos merely by pulling the jump drive from the game camera and plugging it into your smart phone.

Plus these "smart" cameras should be capable of being "remote managed" by smart phone or computer command interfaces. For instance, if the cameras had basic cell phone capability built in, you could assign a phone number to the camera and program the camera to answer your incoming call when the appropriate password was entered, accept push button commands, and display or even voice read information to you, such as the number of red flagged photos taken, battery status, or any troubleshooting info you might need to know. You should be able to reset the camera remotely, turn it off or on, clear the photos in memory, etc. You should be able to remotely command the camera to upload selected photos or even a whole day's folder of photos to your cell phone or computer. Since a plot watcher camera is a "daytime only" camera, equipping it with a cell phone for remote management would allow photos to be uploaded every night when the camera was not taking pictures. This would eliminate having to go into the field just to see what photos are on your camera.

Another possibility would be to call in to the game camera and turn on a "streaming" video feature that uploaded each photo to your cell phone immediately after it was taken. This would let you sit in a tree stand and "watch" live photos from your camera set up at another location.

Other good features readily possible on a game camera would be standard "PTZ" capability (pan, tilt, zoom) that also could be remotely directed via the cell phone interface. If you turned on streaming video and were receiving photos live immediately after they were taken, but saw a good buck enter the plot, you could then pan, tilt, and zoom the camera right in on him to get close up photos.

All of the items I have described are already on the market and being used in various other types of cameras, such as security cameras, law enforcement cameras, remote monitoring cameras, etc. It only requires "putting it all together" in a game camera format to create a super game camera that "does it all." Law enforcement cameras that offer most of these features are on the market starting at $1,000 and going up. I am confident that the cost of a game camera doing all these things, and more, could be in the $500 or less range easily. The cameras need exceptionally strong, waterproof cases, with very good quality lenses, high resolution picture capability, much faster "wake up" and trigger times, and a host of other improvements too.

The cost of adding a second phone number to many cell phone plans is not so prohibitive that a remote managed game camera using an assigned cell number is impractical. I feel there would be a good demand for cameras which could be remotely managed, could stream photos "live" as they were taken, and which would allow a user to manuever the camera to pan or zoom in on a target. In fact, I feel that a lot of avid hunters would probably keep a little window open on their computers during their work day and just have the camera stream photos to them from their food plot.

The key to making this happen is a stronger power source, which means better batteries and constant solar recharging. However, my $400 netbook computer already has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 9 hours even while powering the computer and a 10.5 inch screen. I have taken notes in classes for a full 8 hour day and never discharged that battery, so it is indeed possible to have a game camera equipped with much better batteries than we are using when we install ordinary C or D cells.

My dream camera is not yet here, but if a manufacturer got busy, I am sure they could have everything I have mentioned and more in a game camera for the market within a short time. The $400 netbook computer I mentioned has far more technologically advanced features than any game camera and it even has a decent web camera built into it. So there is just no reason we should not have an affordable, good quailty super game camera on the market today.

Primos, are you listening? How about jumping on this and getting ahead of the competition by introducing a game camera that sportsmen REALLY want?
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby buckcrazy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:19 am

I think that the best camera out there right now is the Recconyx. That camera is really nice but I just cant see dropping that kinda cash on one camera. I have 10 cameras out in the woods. I dont check them each week because I frankly dont need to. The best one I have hands down is the moultrie IR-60 that is now discontinued. I have three of these cameras and I have NEVER had a single issue with any of them. Battery life with 6 D Energizer batteries is in the neighborhood of 6-8 months. I figured it out and I have gotten nearly 10,000 pics per battery cycle. Thats about as good as you'll get right now. Trigger time is a little slow but if you put them in a field or an area where you know deer "hang out" you shouldnt have a problem.

I like your ideas about the new cameras alot but it wouldnt do me any good seeing the pics while at work. I would be just sitting here at work checking my pics out and get absolutely nothing done. I have gotten to where I get just as excited to check my cameras as I do about the hunt itself.

Since I have been putting cameras out back in the early 90's I have never gotten a huge buck,the kind that makes your jaw drop when you see it, on camera. I guess I just dont hunt the right places but Im happy with the bucks that I get to see and take. I have come to the realization that I may never kill a booner and i can deal with that.

The first camera I ever owned was a trailmaster 550. I paid nearly $500 if memory serves me right. I just looked up the site and it appears they are still around making the SAME cameras. I guess it must have worked but it was terrible back then. The worst part was the 35mm film you had to get developed. By the time I got the film developed , the deer had already changed thier patterns :lol:

Hey Fc, you know anything about electronicss, maybe you could come up with something. I know you could at least write the manual :W:
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby huntall » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:39 pm

FireCloud, that is probaly not that far off on geting a camera like this, but you know how it is the first ones would be way more than 500 dollars. I like the idea of not having to go to the woods to get the pictures.This would be great on scent control.
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby STILLHUNTER » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:02 pm

I was wondering if i could get some kind of card reader to hook up to my phone its a HTC Desire? I might be able to i guess.... Would love to set in the stand and watch pics of deer coming to my phone from somewhere esle might make me get up and more around .....
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby FireCloud » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:08 pm

It's interesting that you mention Recconyx. They currently have a law enforcement camera on the market that has many of the features I mentioned which sells to governments, etc. for the price of $650, meaning it probably would sell normally in the civilian market for much less.

This camera has a stunning 1/5 second trigger speed once motion activated! And we think game cameras are fast when they have a 1 second trigger speed. How would you like a game camera with a 5X faster trigger speed? It also can "freeze" objects passing by at speeds of up to 50 mph (for obtaining license plate numbers but also useful for great clear photos of running deer or flying birds.) It uses 940nm infrared illumination which at least to a human eye is nearly virtually invisible.

But the best feature of this camera, in my opinion, is an claimed 44,000 photo battery life, which they calculate as lasting up to 1 year in the field (at 120 pics per day average.) You have to like that feature for sure!

Another outfit "custom manufactures" cameras for law enforcement at ridiculously high prices but which offer nearly everything on my wish list PLUS dual cameras AND a 120 gB hard drive, all in a rock solid weatherproof case. These custom made cameras, which are called "watchboxes" because of their remote surviellance capability, have the following specs:


1) Single or dual cameras
2) Mini 10X zoom PTZ camera and 540 line resolution
3) Camera is remotely controlled via a network connection
4) Live & recorded remote viewing via cellular network (requires a Sprint© data subscription)
5) Industrial rated 120 GB micro hard drive - up to 40 days of video
Custom Watchbox includes a mini PTZ camera with 10X zoom and 540 lines resolution
System includes a 120GB industrial rated micro hard drive that provides up to 40 days of video

Notice that this watchbox camera system DOES HAVE the ability to transmit live photos via a Sprint data connection. With this camera you absolutely can sit at a desk and watch whatever your camera is seeing. It can also record pictures OR video for days on an included hard drive. You can view the recorded photos from your desk too, via the same cell phone connection.

As I said, the technology already exists to build my dream game camera and it would be far better than any game camera yet on the market. I did not even want a hard drive on mine but of course some people might want to record 40 days of video!

Yes, quite obviously, a "super" camera like this custom built one at a time for law enforcement spying is absurdly priced way above what a sportsman is willing to pay for a game camera at about $4,200 each. However, mass production (yeah, probably in China!) of units made for civilian use and not having to meet extreme specifications as law enforcement equipment must meet, could be manufactured for under $1,000 including the hard drive. Eliminate the hard drive, network connection capabilty, and a couple more bells and whistles and you can still have a fine dream camera at probably $500 -$600 or less.

Let's do a little thinking out of the box, shall we? Reconnyx already has a great law enforcement camera they sell every day for $650 that could be easily improved by adding a couple features, such as the live viewing feature using a cellular network. Some game cameras already have this feature so it is not hard to add to any camera. Change out the media storage from an SD card to a standard USB jump drive..again nothing big or expensive to do there. Then replace the fixed lens camera with the mini 10x PTZ camera and its controls. Next add the flip up solar panel and a motor to rotate the panel to track the sun each day along with robust trickled recharging long life batteries and BANG...you are awful close to my dream camera. You will need a controller board that allows all the gadgets to be remotely controlled using cell phone tones and to function together as a unit. I sincerely believe Recconyx, or any similar manufacturer, can do all that very easily. Probably a few homebrew guys can do it too using off the shelf parts. Or just send this thread over to China and the entire camera (in minature) will be ready for market by next week.

Ok, as for watching your game camera pics while at work....who really wants to work anyway?

As for me knowing about technology, why of course I do. I can usually put batteries in most electronics, turn them off and on, and push buttons until something happens. What else is there to know? :D
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby saddaddykiller » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:17 pm

you know...im gonna be honest i wish the first game camera woulda never been invented ....i wish i woulda never used one ever.....fishing and hunting is getting too technologyicilalized advanced and i dont know if that is a good or bad thing but i think its going to become a bad thing in the future...i guess i dont want fishing and hunting to become too (easy) and i see it going in that direction with all these new cameras and fish finders and stuff etc.......am i wrong? is all this techology gonna ruin the real hunting and fishing?
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby FireCloud » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:44 pm

saddaddykiller wrote:you know...im gonna be honest i wish the first game camera woulda never been invented ....i wish i woulda never used one ever.....fishing and hunting is getting too technologyicilalized advanced and i dont know if that is a good or bad thing but i think its going to become a bad thing in the future...i guess i dont want fishing and hunting to become too (easy) and i see it going in that direction with all these new cameras and fish finders and stuff etc.......am i wrong? is all this techology gonna ruin the real hunting and fishing?



Saddaddy, it is becoming much easier for those who use all the "latest and greatest" hunting gear. However, it has not gotten a single bit easier in the 43 years I have been pursuing deer with the same traditional recurve bow. Photos of the deer don't really help much when you hunt as a traditional archer. About the only thing photos do is let me see what I am NOT killing!! :D
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby saddaddykiller » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:42 pm

FireCloud wrote:
saddaddykiller wrote:you know...im gonna be honest i wish the first game camera woulda never been invented ....i wish i woulda never used one ever.....fishing and hunting is getting too technologyicilalized advanced and i dont know if that is a good or bad thing but i think its going to become a bad thing in the future...i guess i dont want fishing and hunting to become too (easy) and i see it going in that direction with all these new cameras and fish finders and stuff etc.......am i wrong? is all this techology gonna ruin the real hunting and fishing?



Saddaddy, it is becoming much easier for those who use all the "latest and greatest" hunting gear. However, it has not gotten a single bit easier in the 43 years I have been pursuing deer with the same traditional recurve bow. Photos of the deer don't really help much when you hunt as a traditional archer. About the only thing photos do is let me see what I am NOT killing!! :D


yeah i understand....you can get all the pics u want...but u still gotta go spend the time and hunt hard and find em
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Re: My "Dream" Game Camera

Postby terry08 » Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:04 am

So true, I have three cameras out which have not been turned on since the special season ended.
During bow season while the bucks were still in their bachelor groups, I had photos of fine bucks every night at my feeders as I do each year. Once they split up it was like Scotty, beamed them up and and placed them in other locations. The cameras can never make hunting any easier. They capture the deer mostly at night going through their normal routine. This routine is not normal in daylight hours and you still have to find them and figure out their pattern. I would suggest a camera with a built in poison dart launcher which you could fire from your desk top while viewing the video live. :rotflol: Then and only then will they change the way we hunt. All they can accomplish at this time is to let you know that a deer was in a specific area at a specific time. Come morning how far did he travel, or did he just let you walk past while he was bedding and watching you ?
Further more, even if you were watching him while at work and could take off to the woods. Chances are he would be gone before you arrived.
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