Only very expensive trailcams (USD 1,000+) are able to take photos of small and extremely fast stoats and weasels. So in order to monitor the presence/absence of weasel and stoat in a certain area, the Dutch working group for small Mustelids developed a combined camera-/tunnel System where cheaper trailcams (USD 300) successfully catch these small mammals.

If this monitoring system is to be used on a large scale, the price must be even lower that this. My thinking is, that in a setup as described in the combined camera/tunnel-system, a trailcam specialized in wildlife photography becomes obsolete. A cheaper camera, equipped with a photoelectric sensor and maybe an IR-flash would do the job as well.

How would such a solution look like? What camera-sensor combination can you recommend with a budget of about USD 100 – 150 for the final result?

PS: A “trailcam” in this context refers to a “camera trap” as described by wikipedia: [...] a remotely activated camera that is equipped with a motion sensor [...]. Camera trapping is a method for capturing wild animals on film when researchers are not present [...].

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are up for a bit of DIY it may be worth considering a Raspberry Pi and a Pi NoIR camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – db9dreamer
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is asking for thoughts and they are opinion based. There are no requirements stated whatsoever which makes answering this pretty much impossible. Nor is there any definition given for what a "trailcam" actually is in this context. It's an open ended design question. This is probably a nice question to start a discussion or brainstorming, but not a good fit for a Q&A site. I'm voting to close this. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Jan 28, 2016 at 19:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ The expense is probably not just the hardware and software, but the weather and animal proofing. Designing field equipment to last until it can be next visited, and somewhat field repaired is a huge part of the cost. \$\endgroup\$
    – user31502
    Jan 29, 2016 at 14:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why dont you guys post your comments as answers! It would make the discussion somewhat easier.. @vclaw: Basically: Yes. that would be an option. I kind of love the idea of using a raspberry pi + noir, but we're probabbly going to test some cheaper trailcams to see how they fare in a field test. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ratnanil
    Feb 2, 2016 at 22:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ratnanil: this is not a forum unfortunately and people often hesitate posting incomplete solutions as answers. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 15, 2016 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


Having floated a few Raspberry Pi's down a river in paint cans during the removal of a dam, I can say that it is a decent set up, but struggles with resolving power in certain circumstances and eats power.

If it were me, I would look at building a whole integrated system. Start with a solid PVC tunnel and waterproofing for the electronics.

My personal approach to managing the imaging would be to create an ARDUINO not raspberry pi trigger system, because it will run much longer on less power is self restarting and very reliable if properly programmed.

You can use a motion sensor or an IR sensor or a pressure sensitive flex switch (which you tweak to get the distance and timing right to trigger the camera).

For the camera, I would look up affordable older models on the canon hack developer kit.


You can buy craigslist canon cameras for $25 a piece and have immense control over them.

Google around and you can find a lot of different possible routes to a solution.

I knew of a professor who used a system like this to send up in a high altitude balloon. You would need a different trigger and different CHDK settings, but it gives you a starting place and I would say you could build everything including a tunnel for less than $125.....

Check it out here and google what other people are doing with both arduino's and CHDK.

  • \$\begingroup\$ And...if this is an academic project as it sounds like it is, it would be a fantastic masters project for a graduate student! \$\endgroup\$
    – bethanyP
    Jul 11, 2016 at 5:12

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