A mix of old and new camera traps ready for the field.
Large cases contain 2D-cells as backup power;
small cases contain 4 AA cells as backup power.
I've been gearing up to deploy additional cams at the Chimineas Ranch and Marin County.
Seven camera traps were out of order, and parts for 5 additional units had been accumulating dust and dog hair for several months.
When I started home-brewing my own camera traps I often encountered problems, and I always thought it was due to some technical failure beyond my limited knowledge of electronics.
The problem was almost always due to dying or dead batteries in the camera or controller.
So I got in the habit of using the multimeter, and when something goes wrong the first thing I check are the batteries.
Weak batteries however were not the problem in these cameras.
The easiest fix only required tweaking.
It was a case of lens impotence.
The lens would struggle to extend while grinding noisily for several seconds, and then it would suddenly appear.
By then of course the animal that triggered the camera was long gone.
All it needed was tough love.
Believe it or not, you can fix a jammed lens motor by slamming the camera in your hand while the lens gear is grinding.
More often however, finding what doesn't work requires fairly simple trouble shooting.
Test the camera with a functional controller, and vice versa until you know what component has failed.
Then test the wired circuits for continuity.
Very often there is a short, a solder contact has broken, or a wire has been pinched.
I repaired 4 of the units by replacing controllers or rewiring the cameras, built 5 new units with new Sony s600s and YetiCam controllers, and laid one camera to rest -- a source of spare parts.
Fixing a camera makes you feel pretty good.
Sometimes you even hear trumpets blaring that familiar theme from Rocky.