What Hole

Mobile Observation Unit

  • Axis day and night camera and outdoor housing
  • Solar module and battery bank.
  • Enclosure
  • Network bridge and antenna
  • Small fan
  • Tripod Pole

We are developing a portable surveillance system that can be deployed
at remote locations. The weight of the components and ease of
assembly in the field are significant considerations when accessing
remote sites in difficult terrain. The camera is designed for
day and night imagery, and it will enable us to determine visitation
times and activity patterns of animals at remote sites. The system
is currently deployed at a small water hole near the lab buildings
at Boyd Center. We are developing and testing the system in this
location before we deploy it at a waterhole in Deep Canyon.

Images from the camera will be saved in an image database system.
The camera can detect motion and notify a researcher that an event
has occurred by emailing the researcher with the current image
attached to the email. The surveillance system will be the prototype
for portable units that can be deployed by other researchers to
remotely monitor the behavior of animals, vegetative growth, and
habitat changes over time.

Remote observation of wildlife allows researchers to observe animals
without the disturbance of a human presence that can alter the
normal behavior of an animal. Another beneficial aspect of remote
surveillance systems is the savings of time and travel expenses
to remote locations by reducing the need for frequent visits to
collect data that can be obtained by remote sensing.

Kevin Browne – UCNRS Information Manager

Version 1.0

Version 1 was constructed and installed near a water feature
at the Boyd Dessert Research Station. It was in a very exposed
area and we learned a lot from testing this configuration.
The wind load on the tripod caused the camera to loose focus
on the subject because the solar panel and camera were attached
to the same pole. Although the night vision of the Axis
Camera was superb the interface and motion detection was
hard to program for the various conditions that occurred
during the day and night. The same settings that worked
during the day would not be optimal for night viewing. The
100 watt solar module was very large and we were concerned
about the difficulty of transport since this system is designed
to be mobile. The inferred light below the camera housing
worked very well at illuminating the area at night.

Version 2.0

With Version 2.0 we moved the entire camera construction
to the water hole inside the Deep Canyon drainage. The camera
is at a location that would be protected from any flash
flood event. We made a number of changes to the design.
We changed the camera housing to one that would be able
to dissipate heat better. We chose to use a Canon camera
instead of the Axis camera due to it’s scheduling ability.
We also installed a 75 watt solar panel instead of a 100
Watt solar panel. We are experiencing problems with the
solar power due to shorter days (i.e. daylight) during the
winter months and the shadows that the gorge has on the
camera. The solar panel is not able to keep up with the
camera with all its equipment and charge the battery. We
hope to resolve these issues in the near future.

Lessons learned: 1) The camera housing and battery box
require additional shading and internal fans to reduce temperatures
in the enclosures; 2) Tripod mounting of the solar panel
is not a viable option in high wind locations because vibration
from the panel interferes with camera focus; 3) The size
of the solar panel can be reduced from 100 Watt to 75 Watt
to reduce the wind loading area and weight of the system;
4) The battery and wireless bridge enclosure can be smaller
and lighter; 5) Real world operational power requirements
and battery storage capacity will be evaluated with an aim
to reduce the size and weight of the storage battery.