LBK ‘Clear-View’ trail camera project: A pair of W55s but in different cases
W55s in a Pelican 1020 and Otter 2000 cases with SS II boards and 3 AAs
This project came forth with a need for trail cams that could last longer than my customary time of one month between card checks, battery and desiccant replacement. I wanted a camera trap to last at least two-three months without visiting the site. Digital cameras with ‘AA’ externals are the ticket. Over the rainy season would be a perfect setup from August to late October when the forests in Thailand are almost inaccessible due to swollen streams and rivers, and constant rain.
The Sony S600 digital camera has become increasingly difficult to find in Thailand and as of this post, none are available here. But the W50, 55 and 80s and other cameras in the ‘W’ series are easier to get being slightly newer. Actually, I believe the S600 has dried up because of the huge demand for them on eBay and the U.S. homebrew trail camera market.
Sony W55s in Pelican-Otter cases with SSIIs and AA externals
The second-hand camera shops in Bangkok are in ‘Chinatown’ and many have loads of different models to choose from. I picked up two W55s for a song, ordered a couple of Gary’s amazing little SSII boards, found a Pelican 1020 plus an Otter 2000, both in clear, and triple ‘AA’ battery packs for these two trail cams. Everything fit easily and I put them together in my shop.
I built two ‘elephant proof’ boxes from 3mm sheet aluminum and had my welder ‘Tig’ it all together. I now have incorporated half-inch alloy rods welded into the corners for a cleaner look, and then drilled and tapped for 10mm ‘power torque’ machine screws. Faceplates are machined for lens, flash and sensor from 3mm aluminum plate.
Back-end of ‘elephant proof’ boxes with Stainless 3″ lag bolts and washers
An aluminum tube is welded to the front for a Python 10mm locking cable and what I call ‘shark teeth’ are welded on the back to lock the cam in place on a tree. Two 3/8” x 3” stainless lag bolts secure it from inside the box and the backs are beefed up with ¼” plate where the bolts are (see photo). These units have proven to withstand the carnage handed out by wild elephants or poachers that sometimes can be a disaster waiting to happen.
There is a mineral lick more than a days walk from the ranger station I work out of in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. I intend to set these two cameras plus a few others with externals at this location and let them work for a couple of months. This should be an interesting set and I will post photos and set-up when the time comes.
Both units with an upgrade to 3 AA battery packs
Sony W55/Pelican 1020/Snapshotsniper SSII/3 AAs: This unit is for normal installation on a vertical tree housed in an aluminum box. A camouflage paint pattern was applied to the ‘elephant proof’ box. A ‘Python’ locking cable runs around the front and secures the unit in conjunction with two 3” stainless steel lag bolts and washers from inside the box.
Sony W55/Otter 2000/SSII/3 AAs: This unit being horizontal is better suited to fallen trees across game trails and other suitable locations that require special set-up. The ‘Python’ locking cable can be run both ways (horizontal or vertical) and hence is slightly more flexible in installation. Lag bolts lock the cam on a tree and the 10mm ‘power torque’ machine screws close up the faceplate making these tough to get into or off a tree.
Note: I originally installed two ‘C’ cells and when turned on, they began leaking in a couple of days but I saved the camera and board just in time and the camera’s finish got slightly blotchy. I also had to remove the lens door which now works very smoothly. I then removed the ‘C’ cells and replaced them with 3 AAs packs. The internal components are the same for both cams and alkaline AAs will be used for externals. I look forward to setting these two up sometime next week and leave them for two-three months, and of course, will post any photos at a later date.