Making Raspberry Pi in the NoIR - Part I
Updated: May 24, 2020
A few months ago I started looking into options for recording insect activity around flowers. It sounds simple enough. It really isn't. There are quite a few things to consider. For example, what size of insect, what size of flower, weatherproofing, cost/budget, diurnal, nocturnal or both.
There are quite a number of forums related to 'hacking' camcorders and handheld digital cameras. Some of these options priced out to about $150 ea and needed considerable 'hacking' and modification. Then there are very expensive options like Reconyx cameras that price out to about $800+ but would still require 'customization' because they don't just trigger with movement. Turns out they need heat to trigger and insects aren't really going to work that way so you would need to have Reconyx customize the units further. There's also GoPro setups, but these get a bit expensive too, depending on your budget.
After much searching and reading, and learning far more about camera setups than I ever really wanted to, I came across Rob Lanfear and Mike Whitehead's post. This provided a relatively cheap and (more) easily customizable option using Raspberry Pi components. I then happened across some additional insight with IR from Kate Umbers. Between these sources, several other websites and some perseverance I have created a system that works for me.
What am I using them for exactly?
I'm setting up both diurnal (day) and nocturnal (night) cameras to observe insects around orchids. What I really want is to capture information about what the various pollinators are. The particular group of orchids I am interested in are rumoured to have both diurnal and nocturnal pollinators. Thus, I need something to cover both bases - which eliminated many of the researched options (above) immediately. I'm also using them in field situations, so no electrical outlets to plug into for powering big IR lights. To conserve battery power and storage space I am using two units simultaneously - one for day, one for night. The idea is to be able to check these units every couple of days to change battery packs and download the video and image files.
To save future users/creators some hassle, I am compiling all of the instructions in a couple of blogs. Most importantly, I am moving forward with the assumption that no one knows what Raspberry Pi is or how coding works.
Essentials for a diurnal (day) setup:
Velcro sticky straps
Glue gun + glue
1/4" drill bit
Essentials for a nocturnal (night) setup:
Infrared (IR) light source - BrightPi lights OR IR LED attachment
Male to female jumper cables if using IR LED attachment
Velcro sticky straps
Glue gun + glue
Soldering kit and spool
35 mm hole saw
Essentials for remote/wireless access & charging:
Optional extras for either camera setup:
Transistors - these help create stable/safe power for the fan
Resistors - these help create stable/safe power for the fan
The cost of each unit is approximately $220 for day and $240 for night.
The basic steps are: (click on each link to go to the instructions)
Format the SD cards with the operating system (OS) that will run the Pi unit
Build the Pi - put the board and camera together
Build and connect the IR lights - for nocturnal use only - you can skip this step if only using diurnal
Test your OS and install motion capture software
Set up the wireless capabilities to allow data transfer and changing of settings
Install scripts to run your IR lights - for BrightPi nocturnal use only - you can skip this step if only using diurnal
Put camera units in plastic container housing
Admire your finished product and get it in the field