Introduction to Camera Homebrewing:
The initial segment in a series of short articles we have
planned to highlight what home brewing is all about.
by Bob Turner (aka OutdoorBob7)
With trail cams
becoming more and more popular each year, there is another
segment within the trail cam field that is growing even more
popular, that of the HomeBrew camera. The use of trail cams has
made hunting your favorite game a year around sport. Many have
taken this a step further by building their own cameras. "Homebrewing"
as it is called, continues to grow by leaps and bounds. What
could be more exciting than building your own camera, placing it
in the field and retrieving pictures of that trophy of a
lifetime? The amazing thing is you don’t have to be some
electronic whiz kid to be able to do it. Heck if me and Roscoe
(aka Ross Baker) can do it, anybody can!
Homebrewing involves choosing a digital
camera which will be operated by a control board which turns the
camera on when heat/motion is detected and takes a picture.
Almost any camera can be “hacked” so it can be operated by these
control boards, however factors such as startup time, battery
life, flash, and other factors have made certain cameras more
favorable as homebrews. Just like commercial cams, these digital
cameras have their own strengths and weaknesses. You can view
the most popular cameras and pdf files, which shows the hacks
for these cameras at
http://www.depreyswildlife.com/mods.html. The “hack”
involves going inside the camera and adding a stereo jack,
servo, or some other means of connecting the camera to a control
Next you must choose the control board.
Homebrew boards are alike yet very different, yet you will be
more than happy with any of them. Each board has a PIR sensor,
which detects heat/motion much better than most commercial cams.
Some have LCD panels, while others have dip- switches. Most
boards have settings and delays, which pretty much mirror those
of commercial cams.
Laying out your camera within the case can
be fun. You can be different and use many types of boxes to
build your camera. Most people use Pelican cases, but really it
just needs to be waterproof and able to endure various
temperatures and weather conditions in order to be used.
Building a cam using a plain case and then adding something like
liquid nails and painting it to resemble treebark (3d camo) will
make the build even more personal.
Cost of a homebrew camera is dependent
mostly upon the camera you choose. The average cost of the
control boards are $40 - $60. Another $40 to $70 for the case
and other necessary items brings total cost before purchasing
the camera to $80 to $130. $175 to $200 is a good average cost
for most cams while the most expensive ones may run upwards of
$275. Suppliers provide complete kits that can require little
assembly all the way to complete assembly depending on your
Most common tools required are a
micro-screwdriver set, 15 or 25 watt soldering iron, some type
of magnification, drill or drill press, side-cutters, and some
tweezers. If you’re like most, you’ll find yourself buying many
little specialty tools after you’re completely hooked.
We often joke that homebrewing is addictive
and it truly is in many ways. Your always seeing ways to improve
your builds, and new products are coming much more rapidly now
that the sport is growing so quickly and you’re wanting to try
them out. Trail cams have made our favorite pastimes a lot of
fun and year around activities, but if you build your own trail
camera we think you’ll find the enjoyment even greater than you
could have imagined. Now if you think you want to move on to the
next step, in the chasingame discussion forum, check out the
sticky “A Little Something To Get You Started” in the
HomeBrew forum. This is a great simple article that should help
you choose your camera and board. You’ll find many here at
Chasingame that are always willing to answer questions and give
any advice you need along the way.
Here is a list of sites I find useful in