2014-01-26 birdhouse

Christmas 2013 I got a birdhouse.
As I hardly look outside (laptop screen is much more fun), I would miss all birds going in and out.
My idea was to put in the birdhouse a raspberry pi ("RPI" from now on) with camera, powered via ethernet (one less cable!). I also wanted to illuminate the birds using infra red as that would be (hopefully) not too annoying for them. Luckily the RPI camera can now be bought without IR-filter so I only had to install an IR-LED and I would be good to go.
I choose for using a network cable as I have a lot of interference on the 2.4GHz WiFi frequencies (see this posting: it got a lot worse since then as a lot of neighbours bought wireless baby phones with video streaming).

So I bought an RPI, a camera without IR filter, POE injector, a POE splitter, a micro usb cable and some Ethernet wiring (UTP CAT5 with RJ45 connectors).

The first step was connecting the camera. This is very easy to do and is explained in a video which can be viewed on the RPI website. I had to customize the RPI casing a little (I drilled a couple of holes in it) so that the camera could be installed with the RPI still in the casing. I used some generic glue to attach the camera to the RPI case as well as its flat cable. Note: do not bend the cable too much or it'll break!

Then I glued the RPI in the birdhouse with the network cable attached. I removed some of the plastic around the cable near the connector so that I could bend it a bit. I also made sure that the camera cable was not in front of the entrance.

As I mentioned, I wanted to illuminate the birds with infra red light using a LED. The power over ethernet splitter would feed the RPI with 5 volts. The IR LED does not like 5 volts, for that I added a resistor in series with it:

resistor OHM = (5V - [forward voltage]) / [rated current]
I used an IR333C/H0/L10 LED. Things like "forward voltage" and "rated current" (parameters of the LED) can be found in its datasheet.
I rounded the values slightly up just to be sure and came up with (for this type of LED! others LEDs require other values!) an 100ohm resistor: I think it is safer to have a bit of margin as for example resistors have a margin and also the power from the power supply is not exactly 5 volt.
I soldered the POE splitter connector to the micro USB connector (used to power the RPI) and in parallel the LED.

I found the POE splitter to be rather large but it would fit neatly opposite to the RPI. At the front you see the LED glued to the box. Not too close to the camera so that it would not be overexposed.

Soldering is a bit out of my comfort zone so I was very happy to see that the RPI booted up just fine, powered and connected via ethernet!

Previous owners "made Swiss cheese" of the outside wall of my house so a screw was easily attached. The cable went somewhat underneath/through the door to the POE injector and network switch.

When all was setup: first picture! Note that I mounted a mirror at the right of the birdhouse so that I can also see the part "behind" the camera.

Currently a 5-minute interval cron-script is executed which retrieves the temperature of the RPI SOC and stores that in a database on my server.

Since kernel 3.10.27+, there's a video4linux driver for the RPI camera! I'm using my own video streaming software called "koudevoeten" for that: it streams the camera-output using MJPEG encoding to my server. This server, a regular pc with a lot of CPU power, then runs motion to detect any birds (or insects) going in or out. It (motion) then stores videos of those events and sends me a message on my mobile phone via the Jabber chat protocol.

The temperature of the RPI is currently 32 degrees celsius with an outside temperature of 5 degrees. If the temperature gets too low (during the winter), I'll install a seti@home client on it which lets the CPU of the RPI run at 100% generating a lot more heat. I have not decided yet what to do when it gets too hot in there.

An example snapshot can be seen here. It is an actually live snapshot of my birdhouse. The colors are of course purple-ish because of the IR LED light. Hopefully not too many people will click on the upstream internet connection of the bird house is only 5Mb.

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