While there are a number of waterproof cases offered by
various manufacturers, most of my camera traps have
been built in Pelican 1040 waterproof cases. Because
the Nikon L11 lens extends when the camera is turned
on, a provision has to be made for length of the lens.
To do that I fit a “snorkel” made from a PVC plumbing
fitting into the 1040 case. The snorkel holds a piece of
glass through which the lens can take a photograph. A
second piece of glass covers another hole in the case,
allowing the camera’s flash to illuminate the subject.
A plastic or aluminum pipe mounted through the trail
camera permits the use of a cable lock to deter
thieves. The waterproof case is painted inside and
out with flat brown spray paint.
Borrowing an idea I picked up on an online camera-trapping forum, my trail cameras are mounted in
modified steel electrical boxes for protection from
curious bears and as an added deterrent to thieves
and vandals. Many of those who build homebrewed
trail cameras also camouflage their trail cameras using
textured construction adhesive and various shades
My homebrewed trail cameras’ night photos are taken
at 1/60-second with a flash duration close to 1/1000-
second, fast enough to “stop” motion. The quality of the
day and night photographs taken by these homebrewed
trail cameras exceeds those I’ve seen from almost any
commercial trail cameras, whose night photographs are
often blurred as a result of slower shutter speeds and/or
longer flash times. Plus, there’s the satisfaction of using
something I’ve made myself, at least in part, and the
knowledge that repairs can be done in my own shop. By
watching for bargains, it’s possible to build an excellent
trail camera for around $100.
Checking the photos on a camera trap’s memory card
is like opening presents on Christmas morning, you
never know what you’ll find: it may be a lump of coal or
it may be what you’ve wished for all year. My camera
traps have photographed many species from mice and
shrews to deer and bear.
Charlie Schwarz The work pays off: a crisp daytime shot of a gray squirrel and a clear photo of a barred owl at night.
From the top: parts and supplies, including
a clear case and the battery-powered
external control board and battery pack;
the interior of the case with holes drilled
and shelf installed; The finished case with
PVC “snorkel” installed and painted.