Birdhouse Camera – Phase 1

September, 2013

When I built my house, I included 4 external cameras which watch all the house entrances.  Lately, I’ve been thinking of adding more, so I replaced my 4-channel DVR with a really nice 8-channel DVR.  After a lot of research, I finally settled on the ICatch US811ZAND DVR which runs Embedded Linux and provides 8 channels, 1 TB storage, and a very friendly user interface.  It can record in full D1 480fps on all 8 channels simultaneously while also allowing real-time playback.  It includes a DVD-Burner and USB port for off-loading recorded content – a feature my old DVR lacked.  I’m very happy with my choice.  Now, I have 4 extra ports to support additional cameras.

For my 5th camera, I’d like to put it out on the perimeter of the property so I can have a wide-angle perspective of the house.  In the back yard, I erected a single fence post to mark the back corner of the property line years ago.  I currently have a small birdhouse installed on the fence post.  In the 5+ years the birdhouse has been there, I think it’s only had one resident.  My idea was to replace the existing birdhouse with another one that covertly housed a camera.  Sorry birds!  After much research, I finally settled on 600tvl Weatherproof indoor/outdoor IR Bullet Security Camera.  This camera has 48 IR LEDs that will enable night vision up to 100 feet away – more than enough for what I need.  It also has a small form factor, and a small mounting bracket.  It comes with a sun shade, but I was able to detach it.

I designed the birdhouse around the camera.  I bought some really beautiful 1″ x 8″ red oak wood planks and got to work using my new bandsaw and my radial arm saw.  I cut a 2.5 inch hole in the front and fit the camera inside.  At first, I tried to only partially fit the camera through the hole to hide it better, but tests showed that it created halos in night-vision mode.  So, I reluctantly mounted the camera with the lens almost all the way through the hole.  I also drilled holes in the back for the cable and for mounting.

I used a large hinge on the roof to allow one half to open to allow access to the wiring inside.  I installed a magnet to hold the door closed in case of a strong wind.  I also put 3/8″ weather stripping to protect the components inside.  Even though the camera is weatherproof, I’d like to keep out the insects and other things as much as possible.

I finished the whole thing with a polyurethane wood stain called “Natural” which has a nice reddish color.   It really turned out well.  It’s almost a shame that it will soon have bird poop all over it!


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