2010 Scoutguard SG580 Camera Review - July 17, 2010

2010 SG580

2010 HCO Scoutguard SG580 8MP 36 count red flash Camera Review

This camera arrived some time back and has had its place in line for way too long. We had another couple of cameras ahead but one of those cameras failed miserably and we had to stop the review which opened up a little time to move forward with this camera. I went and got in the middle of the ATT crowd and they stripped me of some cash for what they call a SIM card. We will have to go through the procedures plus download all the current camera upgrades from Boly Media to ensure we are running on the latest firmware. Camera programming operations are controlled by a removable on board remote, clipped inside the battery compartment.

This is a good looking camera with the unusual design of having the array across the bottom front of the camera. There is a little stubby antenna at the top and it will break off the first bump so be careful of this. There should be some after market antenna for this camera I would think. The basic other function is purely Boly Media in nature like all Scoutguards except for the programming to get this camera to work on the air. Be ready to expend some dollars and time and patience to achieve full satisfactory function. This camera now comes in a camo version as well.

One thing we noticed out of the box is that our remote has a range of 1/2 inch which tells us that the disc battery is low/bad. A trip to wally world should fix this as it is easily replaceable.

At some point we will explain the saga of what we learned about AT&T Prepaid Go Phones, how our money went down the tubes, and whether we finally get some results on this unit using the Sim card but first we will complete the standard tests for trigger, and range, and samples. We feel this camera is very much similar to the SG560 and that the SG560 camera function is basically the same as this camera but we will continue on with the basic testing.

11/06/2010 A note on Cellular/MMS set up: I would not even try using the remote to input the settings. Instead edit a set up file which will appear on the SD card after you have gone into set up the first time. Pull your SD card from the camera and place it in your SD card reader on the computer and open the MMS folder. There will be a file called Profile.ini. Double click this file to open it in Notepad on Windows. We have the following settings in our profile.ini. These settings are specifically for AT&T and we purchased the Go Phone Prepaid plan:

; for SG550M MMS application
[MMS Setting]

Of course you will input your cell phone numbers and email address in the four each provided slots after the = sign without spaces or dashes. With an activated phone, we were able to get the camera to text our cell phone with the photos but not our email addresses. We do not currently have a data plan on our Go Phone and this could be the reason we are not getting any emails. We definitely prefer to receive the photos as email. If you do not have every character exactly correct in your profile.ini your camera will not send text messages.

One interesting requirement to note is that you have to set a camera password in order for the cellular features to work. This means that each time you go into set up using the remote you will have to input your secret password. This is to unlock the camera and has nothing to do with your SIM card and phone plan. The initial password is 0000. You will make up a new password and input it twice. You will have to use the remote for this operation which is not part of the profile.ini. To move to the next field using the remote press the # button on the remote. Unless you know this you will never get it to work.

The camera will take photos in either 3MP or the 5MP settings and save the originals to the SD card but will create a 320x240 thumbnail and send this via text messaging (MMS) to your cell or email.

MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service and is employed by cellular phones on the market for sending/receiving text messages that can include photo, audio, and other media embedded in the message. The SG580 utilizes the MMS system for sending these 320x240 thumbnails. They can theoretically be sent to phones and computers via email. Initially when this camera first came out, we heard that the thumbnail was 640x480 but because of partial and lost messages the size was reduced to 320x240.

The camera has a delay setting which can be as low as 0 seconds, yet it takes as much as 20 or more seconds depending on the connection speed to send a text message from the camera. If the delay is set too short or shorter than this time and the camera is triggered again, the current operation may be aborted in favor of the newest photo taken. What this means is that you may not receive all photos even though they are all saved on the SD card. The system does not queue up the photos as they are taken to be sent went there is time under the "Instant" setting.

MMS Mode can be Off, Manual, Instant or Daily Report. The Off setting will turn this into a standard scouting camera for use without the cellular features which is nice.

Debugging your cellular set up in the field requires a couple of things. Take your sim card phone (charged up) with you. When you plug the SIM card into the SG580 and move to set up mode and input your password followed by OK, there is an indicator on the lcd display that looks like a sim card. If it has an X inside then you have communication problems, a heart shape inside means you are good. There are also bars like on your cell phone as well to indicate signal strength. We were told that two bars are the minimum for reliable messaging. If in doubt, use your SIM card phone and send a text message to your regular cell phone or someone who can call you back and say "yea I got it". This proves that at that location it should work ok. Having two phones with you is a good idea for diagnostics or you can place the MMS Mode to Manual and browse the photos and click the delete button. The camera will then allow you to choose Delete or Send. Select Send to manually test the camera in the field. Do not forget to change the MMS Mode back to Instant before you leave it hanging on the tree. If you do not have any photos on your card, you can also use the remote to force the camera to take a photo, then manually send it.

11/11/2010 Update: We made some discoveries about Go Phone plans and Text Messaging. The AT&T Go Phone will support text messaging at 25 cents per which would chew up some cash rather quickly. Instead we purchased for $5, a 200 text messaging per month plan. We now have the camera sending text messages but not emails. At the moment we are trying to determine if a data plan is required to send the emails. We wish this camera to work but we are not satisfied with picture messages to our cell phone as the only source. Unless we can get emails with picture attachments it is not going to work for us. Our cell phone screen is just too small and inconvenient for picture viewing.

11/12/2010 Update: I finally discovered what is required to get pictures sent to both the phone and/or the email. Use the remote and get into the menu settings. On the screen where it says "Send To", Change it from "Number" to "Both". the other option is "Email". If you do not have any phone numbers configured make sure you set it to "Email". This now proves that an AT&T Prepaid Go Phone with a text message plan with out a data plan will work in the field for both phone texts and emails. This gives you control over the costs with out a long term commitment.

11-14-2010 Bills thoughts on this camera: Being this camera falls into the cell category, it fits more into Anthonys expertise. I followed all the build up on this camera from the time several months ago when we first received the first unit. I made the initial purchase of a cell plan so we could do the testing. Most of that effort was in vain because of the lack of support information. Slowly there were a few field testers that managed to go ahead and spend their money and get into the depth of cell system testing using the hit and miss system and our forum was a running log of those efforts which the group coordinated very well over the past month or so. Each and every one in that group came up with something new until it was somewhat figured out. There is still some areas that they are prodding into and may lead to some more documentation of this product.

There seems to be a definite interest in this product with its price and the need to also enlist into some external commitment of sort with some type of cell phone arrangement. There seems to be a wide variety of options that carries different prices in order to have that support. These appear to have been somewhat researched and there has been some pretty good documentation of these figures also. The basic consensus seems to be that it is for the most part affordable provided that you choose the right supporting contract.

Now, it has been determined that the system will work to a degree. Here are the questions. Is the end result good enough to support the cost of the camera and a supporting contract? My take on this is no because of the limited picture quality of the low resolution transmitted pictures. The reason I say this is Anthony kept asking me if I had gotten the deer pictures that this system had transmitted. I kept telling him no and when he went to work tracing those pictures we found out that I indeed had received the pictures. The problem was that I could not determine that there were actually deer in the pictures with out having him telling me just where they were. My thoughts were that the system still needs to be upgraded to a higher resolution to improve picture quality in transmitted pictures plus there needs to be a much better antenna supplied for the camera so the area reception is improved.

12-05-2010 update: This time around we just looked mainly at the stand alone operations of this camera. It has limited function in the wireless operations due to some speed functions where the camera is much faster than its ability to actually send everything that the camera is taking. Some have been somewhat happy with their results but to me I see where this camera really holds its own is in its just plain trail camera mode where you get the pictures straight of the card. They are very good both day and night as you can see by the examples. I could very easy just tuck the antenna back in the box and just go with its regular ability.

01-23-2011 update: We are still getting photos from this camera but only from the sd card. We used the AT&T Go phone plan and subscribed to a 200 text messaging plan. The camera faithfully transmitted its 200 photos to our computer email then stopped as you would expect. We did not pump more funds into the Go Phone plan and have continued checking this cam as a regular trail camera swapping the SD card. We found on analysis of the transmitted photos vs the photos on the SD card, that we received only around 40% of the actual photos taken with a delay setting of 30 seconds. Reports from users on our forum show that a delay of 1 minute or more is required to ensure that all photos are transmitted to your phone or email. Apparently depending on signal levels up to a full minute is required to send the 320x240 photo image. Our herd sighting is low due to hunting pressure but counts so far are 348 photos with 200 transmitted wirelessly. We will continue running this camera until the batteries fail and supply a final update. We are closing the review.

Trigger Tests
(without flash 1.59 seconds)

(with flash 1.56 seconds)

Day Range/8 Plate

Flash Range


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