Introduction to Camera Homebrewing
    August 08, 2007

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 The “hack” involves going inside the camera and adding a stereo jack, servo, or some other means of connecting the camera to a control board.


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 desire. 

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 homebrewing:

Bob Turner

Bob is a moderator and regular on the forum.  He runs his own website and business building homebrew type cameras as well.

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