TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

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-jeff
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TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by -jeff »

Link to Part Two - Housing Construction http://camtrapper.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5392
Link to Part Three - Flash Housing Construction http://camtrapper.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5675
Link to Part Four - Motion Detector
Link to Part Five - Field Setup

Ok, let’s put together an economical DSLR camera trap. First, why use a DSLR? In the last few years good quality digital single lens reflex cameras have become increasingly affordable and available on the used market. They provide images that commercial game cams and home built point and shoot cams can’t. Plus they require no modifications. Truly, an easy build.

So, let’s start with a parts list for this project:

Camera – One of my favorite camera trap cameras is the Canon Rebel XTi. For this build I found one on eBay with a bent CF card slot pin. This was a common problem for the XTi. The user would insert the CF card backwards and push a little too hard bending one of the pins. The repair procedure is well documented in many YouTube videos so we won’t go into it here. I spent $93.00 for this camera and it came with the kit lens.

Lens – Lots of choices here but for this project we will use the “kit lens” that came with this camera package. This is a Canon EFS 18-55mm. There are better choices out there but we are going to keep the cost down on this project. I have seen this lens on Craigslist and eBay for less than $100.00 if your camera was purchased without a lens.

Housing – A small housing that I have used in the past is made by Outdoor Products and sold at Walmart for less than $10.00. Remember, this is the economy DSLR build. :)

Window – A 95mm UV camera lens filter works great and can be had for less than $10 on eBay. This gives you the flexibility to screw on other filters to get the look you want. Plus if it breaks or gets scratched it is easily replaced.

Snorkel – For this we will use a 3” PVC coupling and turn it down in a lathe to accommodate the 95mm lens filter on one end and cut the other end to length. The length depends on the lens used.

Flash – For this build we will be using two Nikon SB-28’s. I like these flashes. They have an excellent standby mode that will get a couple weeks out of four lithium AA batteries. Plus it is an old flash that is readily available on the used market. I usually look for the ones with a broken shoe. The replacement is available on eBay for less than $5.00. The SB-28 manual mode allows you to adjust the flash intensity for precisely the look you want. I like keeping the flash units separate to better light the target area and eliminate the zombie eye look that you get with a built in flash.

Motion Detector – This time we will use a Snapshot Sniper housed in a Seahorse housing. I like keeping the motion detector separate from the camera housing to give me more flexibility in the shot composition. Plus sometimes I use a active IR detector or the X-band detector rather than this passive IR detector. Having it separate makes swapping easy. Every shot target area is different and the more tools you have available the better. Many times the best place for the camera is not the best place for the motion detector.

Camera Mount – We will be using the RAM mount system for this camera. The camera housing will use a 1 ½” ball and the flash units and motion detector will use the 1” ball.

Miscellaneous Parts – Bolts, nuts, washers, wire, connectors, glue and paint.

Below are the parts for this project. (except for the 3 ½” PVC coupling)

Image

Part Two coming in a few days. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. Raise your hand if you have any questions.
Last edited by -jeff on Sun Feb 28, 2016 11:03 am, edited 10 times in total.
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12-ringer
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by 12-ringer »

great idea - should be an interesting thread....

Joe
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fork14
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by fork14 »

I'm in!
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wolvenkinde
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by wolvenkinde »

Thankyou for this...awesome!
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pdskal
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by pdskal »

:WTG :WTG Very interesting!
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LetThemGrow
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by LetThemGrow »

Keep it coming...
Gadestroyer74
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by Gadestroyer74 »

Great work !
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Predator 1
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by Predator 1 »

:awesome

Been thinking about doing one ever since you first joined the forum here!

Thanks for this!
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tiger hunter
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by tiger hunter »

TRL,

Glad you got the ball rolling on the DSLRs. It should catch on with some of the more serious trail cam buffs. How will you be triggering the SB28s? I have one that I might use for my D2x. Interested to hear from you on this. Steve Winter with NG used SB26s in slave mode I think....

Cheers, Bruce.
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-jeff
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Re: TRLcam’s economy DSLR camera trap build. Part One.

Post by -jeff »

L. Bruce Kekule wrote:TRL,

Glad you got the ball rolling on the DSLRs. It should catch on with some of the more serious trail cam buffs. How will you be triggering the SB28s? I have one that I might use for my D2x. Interested to hear from you on this. Steve Winter with NG used SB26s in slave mode I think....

Cheers, Bruce.
Hey Bruce........I think you are right, it is going to catch on once guys see how easy it is and the quality of the images. For the project in this thread I will be using a SSII in a remote housing. The SB28 has a great standby mode that can extend battery life to a few weeks on four AA's. To trigger the flash I will be using either a hardwire that goes from the Canon camera hot shoe to the Nikon flash or an iShoot wireless remote. Costs are about the same and the iShoot works great in the warmer months. But I have found that the lower cost wireless remotes fail when temps get below about 10F making hardwire about the only choice.

Hope to post part two of the thread in a couple days. Can't wait to see some shots from your project.
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