A Raspberry Pico Bird Camera

Hot on the heels of, if not success, then at least lack of failure in my rather simple project to build a Raspberry Pico e-paper weather display, what I’d really like to have is a camera to photograph the very infrequent visits to the feeder in the garden.

There are plenty of cameras on the market but I have something quite specific in mind. It would upload images to a server, so that I didn’t have to go and check a memory card, and ideally be solar powered so I didn’t have to go and recharge or swap batteries. Many of the available cameras seem to use disposable batteries and that just seems like a bad thing in this day and age.

At least I have a clear idea of what I want, but I don’t have a clear idea of whether it’s achievable. But I have a plan.

  1. Check I can get a Pico and camera combo working. Like my first step with e-paper, given that I don’t really know what I’m doing I might not even get a basic image out
  2. Post the photos to a Wifi-connected server, which will probably just be my desktop in the first instance
  3. Get a motion detector working
  4. Put the two together to take photos based on my own movement
  5. Test to see if bird movements trigger the motion detector, and if they do see if the image quality is good enough. I’m more interested in knowing what kinds of birds come to visit and how often than winning Wildlife Photographer Of The Year
  6. Assess power consumption and feasibility of a solar supply
  7. If solar is reasonable, decide on whether to get a retail package with a USB micro, or to go with something more home-spun, that could potentially power multiple devices in the future (because I have many more plans!)
  8. Make some kind of weatherproof case, possibly just for the “camera” part, but possibly also the solar panel (and battery) depending on size requirement. I’m as useless with my hands as I am with electronics so this might be the hardest part.

For components, as well as another Pico W, I’m going for an Arducam Mini 2MP Plus OV2640 SPI camera and a Mini PIR sensor, although since they’re so cheap I’ll give the slightly larger (yet strangely cheaper) regular PIR sensor a try too. I have a very small garden, at only 9m long, and a mesh transmitter right near the door already so Wifi range shouldn’t be an issue.

A Arducam Mini 2MP Plus OV2640 SPI camera
The Arducam Mini 2MP Plus OV2640 SPI camera
The smaller Mini PIR sensor

And so a new adventure begins.