Friday, 24 February 2012

Smile. You're on Candid Camera!

A few weeks ago, after a welcome period of relative calm up on the plots, there were a series of burglaries and break-ins to most of the sheds and stores on the allotments. Sheds are a usual target for ne'er-do-wells looking for power tools etc, that can be carried away easily and sold for, well, whatever they use the money to buy...

...my own shed must have been the last one they tried but they failed to get in. They had a go at forcing open the lock using another gardener's wooden 'dibber' but only managed to bend the steel plate I'd bolted in place and snap the dibber in half. There I found it, next to the door.

What worried me most was the proximity of the shed to the chickens. It would have been easy to grab a chicken or two for dinner (it was a Sunday after all!) Couple that incident with finding all my cockerels in the same compound, ripping the crap out of each other, on no less than three occasions over the past two weeks and you can appreciate the concern I have that someone might be interfering with my stock.

Now I can't sit there, rifle in hand, ghillie suited and covered in twigs, hiding in the bushes all day and all night up there can I? So what can I do?

Well I reckon I've found the answer to alleviating my paranoia and catching any potential felons to boot. Since a lot of you also have livestock of some sort or another (or like to covertly watch wildlife too) I thought I'd share my new bit of kit with you and see what you think.

The main problem faced by anyone wanting to have a cctv system outdoors I guess, is the need to have a power supply to the camera, some way of recording the footage / images, in a waterproof way and covertly so nobody knows your cctv camera is there (so it won't get nicked!).

If you have a field or an area well away from the house this can be a major problem. Plus, who wants to record onto tape or dvd 24/7? I've tried that at home and it's a pain in the arse.

Well my friends, this is the answer.

Front view of the Trail Camera, Wildlife Camera, Stealth Camera etc,...
Known typically as a 'Trail Camera' this design of digital camera was, I believe, developed by the military and used by snipers to track enemy troop movements through the bush. A huge success with hunters and wildlife observers too now, these trail cameras have become cheap enough that poor idiots like me can buy them from ebay off the shelf.

There are lots of brands and prices can range from under £100 to £500 and more but the basic design principle is the same. This one was £120.00 and included a free 8GB sd-ram card and delivery.

A 'Trail Cam' is basically a digital camera in a waterproof box that can shoot still images and/or digital video footage which is stored on a standard sd-ram card commonly found in digital cameras anyway. The camera runs on normal AA batteries and this is the great thing about these cameras. The camera is only triggered when something (or someone) passes in front of the IR sensors mounted under the camera lens (3 of them!) so the batteries can last a long, long time. This one can be set up to shoot a sequence of pictures or video once triggered and reset and go to sleep again after a specified period of inactivity.

Hidden amongst some garden 'debris'
In daylight the images or video is full colour at up to 640x480 pixels - big enough for sharp playback on a television. The still images can be shot at 5 megapixels or upto 12 megapixels which is not cutting edge these days but sharp enough.

At night the camera comes into it's own. Above the infrared sensors and the lens there is a block of IR led lights that light the immediate scene in front of the camera. The best bit is that this light is invisible so whomever or whatever is being filmed doesn't know it. The images are black and white at night but very clear (your Honour).

Dodgy geezer a.m....
Trail cameras have the facility to record the time of day, temprerature, even record the serial number of the camera (for multiple camera locations). The two colour images shown here were taken during low-light conditions and would be perfectly useable in court, ahem...

Dodgy geezer p.m. - performing a criminal dance.
I was made aware of these things by seeing them used by the BBC recently to record owls, otters and other shy wildlife with great success.

Tonight a friend of mine told me that councils have been using them for ages to record 'fly-tippers' in the act. Damn, I thought. Yesterday I had to stop the car and have a pee behind a bush next to a sign that said 'NO FLY TIPPING - CCTV IN OPERATION!' Seems I'll be famous after all LOL (yeah, yeah, no jokes about the high resolution needed to see my nob).

Inside the camera you can see who you've recorded taking a pee...
If you want to film the wildlife in your garden, land, tree it comes with a strap to fix it to a tree trunk or branch, a USB cable to download the images and footage straight to your computer and a power cord to link up to a bigger leisure battery for longevity. Oh and it can be used (let me read the box here) in temperatures from -22 to +158 F.

Brilliant!

I've had it strapped to a fence post all day and so far nothing.

40 comments:

Janet said...

Can you post the pictures onto your next blog for us all to see please -fingers crossed it`s not just badgers and foxes you have captured on film - it`s rather exciting all of this !

Chris said...

Janet - I will post whatever it catches (unless I need another emergency pee - or is that what you meant?) ;-D

John Gray said...

Believe it or not some of us dont want to see your cock!

watch those chickens..... I doubt the average thief would steal them but they could break open the houses and run... not good in the middle of the night!

Tom Stephenson said...

Very interlesting! I have had a lot of fly-tipping, so I might git one of them darn things and rig it up. - as well as sit around all night with a gun.

Chris said...

John - which ones? The ones eating thier tea that's who. I-(

Yes that's a worry too, Mr Fox would have a great time and I'd have to watch the horror film of it happening!

Tom - there's a sequence in the film 'Aliens' where the cameras are rigged to a machine gun like a remote sentry - whilst you got your beauty sleep.

John Gray said...

Chris
put poultry poo a pile of it near the door of the coop
it may deter a potential teenage thief

Chris said...

John - Louis (the first) would deter a gang of teenagers - he frightens me a bit too.

What did it for me was that the cockerels seemed to have been deliberately put together. I couldn't see how else they had got together. Louis nearly lost an eye and that really pissed me off.

This thing will catch them and then I think a visit to TS to borrow one of his toys...

Melodie said...

That is cool! I hope you catch the trouble makers! I can't stand a bunch of thieving no-goods! You could electrify the handles on your sheds and coop,a little tazer action, wouldn't that would make for some good footage on the new camera!Or maybe some good old fashioned steel traps..of course the Texan in me is all for a load of buck shot!

Janet said...

That explains why knees are covered in chicken poo whenever I`m asked to put John`s chucks to bed !

Chris said...

Melodie - remind me never to get on the wrong side of you!x

Janet - Thank God he never asked you to put the pigs to bed! Let's hope he never keeps elephants.

Jim said...

This is a very neat/cool contraption! We don't have many critter visitors except for the occasional raccoon, and then again we don't have chickens either.
Chris you mat be interested in seeing a blog we follow from Colorado where the gal captures these incredible photos of seriously wild mountain animals from what I suppose is a camera similar to yours. Here's the link:
in the next comment....

Jim said...

Here's the link:
http://romp-roll-rockies.blogspot.com/2012/02/strong-and-ready.html

Cro Magnon said...

I presume the thieving bastards don't read your blog, or they'd half-inch the camera too. I could use one of those here, just to see what wildlife comes to our door at night.

The Owl Wood said...

Given the state of the court system the thieves will probably be awarded compensation for having their right to privacy during burglaries invaded!

When you catch them, remember the drill: heads, hands and feet to the pigs, the rest to the middle of the compost heap. We're quite near the coast here so I often also pile up the personal items, mobile phones etcetera and clothes on the beach, Reginald Perrin style. Leave a trail of hoodie footprints down to the waterline too if you add this flourish (one way only, obviously).

Darwin needs a little help now and again with cleaning the pool.

Elaine said...

That's really interesting Chris. We could do with one of those, especially as we get nearer to the Village Show...

Chris said...

Jim - thanks for that. Just been over there and it's a great site with some amazing shots. Once I've caught these ******** I'll train my camera onto something nicer. I have a Tawny Owl that sits on the fence every night watching me put the chooks to bed, for example.

Cro - I doubt they would know how to operate a computer to read this drivel. Btw, the camera has a function whereby you can input a security code so that it's useless to anyone who doesn't know it. Cool.

Chris said...

OW - good point. I'll need to put up some signs (already underway) dotted around the site saying something like 'ACHTUNG! CCTV IN OPERATION YOU THIEVING PIG-DOGS' just to cover all bases legally.

Sound like you have a bit of experience there (backing away slowly now towards the door...)lol.

Elaine - check out Jim's suggested site above and you'll see that you would get some positive use out of it later too, I know you enjoy wildlife (or is it the wild life?) ;-)

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Ooooh, I hope you catch something good!

Hippo said...

I was going to make the usual flippant comment but see that Cro beat me to it so no point in asking for the location of your plot, especially now that you have told us it operates with a code.

Joking aside, I reckon I could sell loads of those cameras here in Angola. I would certainly buy half a dozen if they were available so thanks for the lead.

Chris said...

Lisa - it won't be a cold, that's for sure. I'll just check the sdram card in the comfort of my own hovel.

Gobber - I thought you would already know about these things, being ex-forces. Unless you tour of duty was, ahem, before the digital age...

How's that BUPA clinic coming along? Had a thought that if you treated a few despotic dictators along the way, that might pay for the good and worthwhile stuff? Just a thought...

Trish said...

Hope you catch the culprit Chris....what a great little camera.

Mitch Block said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll know to avoid your place when I'm on my nightly rounds in search of things to carry away easily for whatever it is I use the money to buy.

Crow said...

I so wished I lived near your plot right now. Me and a few of my other bloggy friends would give you some good pictures. :-) Then we could write a blog about how we got published on another blog.

I like your new toy. I want one now.

Seriously, I would hate somebody trying to steal my supplies and tools. Even worse, if somebody messing with my birds or animals.

I hope you catch them.

People around here are afraid to enter on somebody's property unless they have permission. The majority of us West Virginians are packing. ::twitch::

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

This is a timely bit of advise Chris, 'cos I've been thinking around a little honesty stall for plants and fruit, but the best place for it (out of the wind) is also out of my sight. So I have been thinking about security and this seems to tick all the boxes!
Thanks for giving us a run down :-)

Carly said...

Oh Chris I always get such a giggle when I visit your blog; from your posts or the great comments left. Especially like the thought of the blogg-y party on your plot to test your camera hehehe! Kidding aside, hope you catch the beggers out, can't stand things like this, it's hard enough work as it is without the added worry of theft and poultry fiddling x

Chris said...

Trish - you'd love it! You could photograph the crows...

Mitch - that would be oranges, beer and cakes then! That's allowed.

Crow - I hear the postal workers are on 'danger money' out there due to being regularly shot in the ass! ;-D

Lady - wow, that would be a real bit of 'instant justice' wouldn't it - then you could name and shame the less than honest folk (and then send the Morris Dancers round) ;-)

Carly - break out the booze, let's have a 'compost the thief' party! Yay!! (Dancing now...)

Texan said...

Those cameras are great, honeyman has used them here! Is amazing what you will see on them!

Chris said...

Tex - what's he seen on them? Wildlife and such? I can't wait to use it for stuff like that. Much more positive. :-)

Texan said...

We have seen 8 raccoon all sitting on their butts with their legs kicked out in front of them eating corn with their hands around the deer feeder. LOL it was a riot.. Their was one raccoon in charge of going up the tree to rattle the feeder so it would drop more corn ROFL...We have seen a ton of deer. We have seen wild hogs big old wild hogs. He actually put it out front once by the road, that was interesting, you don't really realize when you live back off the road this far how many people actually stop for this or that at your gate or in front of your property. But the animal watching is the best!

Jenny Woolf said...

How amazing. I never knew these existed. Can you camouflage them, so that the bad guys don't rip them off and stamp on them? I suppose if it is dark they might not even notice them, like you didn't.

I daresay you're now on the police station outtakes file :)

Chris said...

Tex - I can imagine what the Raccoons looked like munching through all that corn. Super cute! (Unless you grew the corn that is lol.)

I wonder why all those folk stopped outside your house?

Jenny - Yes they are great aren't they? The front plastic casing is already imprinted with a 'cammo' effect print. I know that some manufacturers (like Bushell for example) also produce a lighter, desert cammo pattern for the casing.

I am currently trying out different locations and places to put it where it can get a good view of anyone or anything prowling about but where it won't get seen.

It will be uber ironic if the camera gets nicked! :-(

elizabethm said...

Now the question is do I dare show my OH this? I am pretty sure this gadget would soon be on its way up here, more for the wildlife than anything.

Chris said...

Elizabeth - definitely a more positive use for these fab cameras. I wish I'd bought a few of them now.

Amanda said...

A friend of mine has this type of camera set up in their woods (they have a problem with wild boars). It takes really clear photos, even at night.

Good luck!! Maybe the roosters will rip them apart instead.

Chris said...

Amanda - Louis 'the 1st' would (he's very protective).

Wild boars eh? I think they are trying to re-introduce them here (somewhere up North) but we don't have the huge wilderness areas you have, in this country. I kind of like the idea of having animals like this running wild though.

Maybe I'll post a photo of one munching on one of my chickens? (Not so good...)

Shaheen said...

Chris what a fab tool this is and one I wish I had when my allotmnet was ebeing roken into and then finally deliberately set on fire, hence the reason I gave it up. I know this would have been damn handy as the police never bothered to chase it up either.

Re your chickens, I don't think you need to fear - so many people may eat meat, but are to afraid to slaughter the animals themselves, preferring those already done of course. I think your chooks should be safe from thieving hands.

Thank you also for your wonderful and kind comments on my blog recently, all have been appreciated.

sophie...^5 said...

You needs me there surveilling the situation...I'd pounce on them and shove my licker down their throats and ask them to beg for mercy...I would!:-)

Little Blue Mouse said...

This is a great idea!
Haven't you got any interesting photos yet?

Chris said...

Shaheen - you'd be surprised. Some chooks were killed on an allotment about 15 miles away from me, just for the hell of it seemingly...

You have a wonderful blog Shaheen, what do you expect? :-)

Sophie - the mere threat of that should ensure a peaceful future for us all, lol. Fetch...

LBM - are we talking about the trail camera footage? ;-)

I'll move the camera soon to get some of the local (nice) wildlife. Hopefully I'll get some interesting shots up soon...

DebH said...

I might just have to invest in one of those! Course with the daily activitiy out in the yard...I'ld be best if I strapped it to the fence out in the pasture. Fun to see what goes on when your not there to see. I have a goat cam in my area with the goats and I had the building resided last Summer. I could watch the camera while at work and hear what was going on. I've saved many a baby goat that way. The workers knew the camera was there, but didn't realize I had sound. You should of heard their complaining when the hens were doing the morning "let it be known, I've just laid an egg" I finally asked one of them if the Chickens were driving them mad with their squawking when they laid their eggs mid morning. He answered embarrassed "thats what they are doing?" I admitted that I could hear vaguely the conversations, but didn't try to eavesdrop. From then on, when they were within eyeshot of the camera, they always had that sideways look. Gad that was funny!