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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Adventures and Misadventures in Hacking Cameras

The Codger, Sean P, Christian, Randomtruth feverishly hacking

On Monday we set about hacking some SonyS600 with the YetiCam board.  Christian, Sean P, Randomtruth, the Codger and I all met up at the California Academy of Sciences where the Codger is a research fellow.  We were kindly allowed use of the project room.  The project room is on the first floor and has one wall that is all glass and looks out onto the large atrium.  At least that is the view from the inside.  It is in fact built so that the viewing public can look in and see "Scientists at Work."  I guess I fit that description even if my science is of the molecular variety rather than wildlife biology.

The Living Roof
The Living Roof  by ecov ottos. Taken at the Cal Academy of Sciences

Hacking and story telling commenced with the Codger leading the way, walking the newbies through the hack.  Each step seemed more daunting than the next as even taking the cameras apart was not the simplest task.  However, Randomtruth who has done a few hacks on his own, gave us additional pointers.  The key as the Codger suggested was keeping wires straight and creating a nice key for yourself before you start.  Soldering wires to very small pads to control the shutter for example was difficult but we eventually all got it.  Some of us quicker (Christian) than others (JK).  The other two wires for the grounds were simple in comparison.

Christian taking apart a Sony S600

After a bit we had the cameras all hacked and it was time to hook them up to the boards and test them.  Here we had to go through some trouble-shooting with one camera that had a short due to two wires on the camera jack making contact with each other.  The other cams eventual worked once we got our fast boards versus regular boards sorted out which we got distracted with early in the hack, but the trouble shooting really allowed each of us to learn where and how to check for problems.

Sean P, Christian, and JK with parts strewn across the table

At the end of the day Christian, Sean and I all had our first homebrews functional with only a little bit of arranging the parts in the case left to do.  I cannot wait to put it to use.

Thanks a ton to the Codger for his patient assistance and the very kind Jens Vindum and Jack Dumbacher for arranging the use of the project room for us.  It was quite the experience.

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