DIY: Wireless Weatherproof Outdoor Camera Rig

UPDATE: So I had someone comment about power being a problem with most setups. So I got to thinking… why not use solar power to run the camera during the day and charge a 12v gel cell battery for night use. This will also solve the problem of someone cutting your power cord. I’m going to investigate this further. For now I’m thinking about a panel like this

I’ve always been fascinated with time lapse photography. There’s something about seeing things happen faster than realtime. When I was in the planning phases of building my house, I wanted to have a record from start to finish. I wanted to see the construction from developing the land, to the end product. One way I could do this was to mount a camera and keep it there recording the whole process, but that would give me about 1.5 years of realtime footage. The other option was to take snapshots during the day and then later turn those into a movie sequence. Doing something like this in the past wasn’t very practical, but today, with Wi-Fi and Network Cameras you can do it fairly economical. I first asked a couple of my friends to see if they had any extra network cams laying around, that got me a Axis Cam, this is one of those IP camera’s that can FTP an image to a server at a given interval. Once I had the camera, I had a few other challenges… first, how do I get the camera weatherproof? Second, how do I mount it and supply power and third, how do I get a WI-FI signal to the camera rig.

The first one was easy, I went over to SuperCircuits and bought one of their heated camera enclosures. That allowed me to mount the camera safely away from the weather… during extreme cold conditions, the heater keeps the electronics and window frost free.

Next, I had to convert a non Wi-Fi camera to wireless… I bought a Linksys WET11 wireless bridge and dismantled it (this voided the warranty). Next, I marked and drilled a hole on the side of the camera enclosure for the WET11′s antenna. The WET11 fits perfectly in the case, like it was meant to fit inside.

With all that aside, I had to figure out how to power all the units. The camera, the WET11, and the heater. I visited my second home, Home Depot, and found a PVC enclosure that was big enough to fit my power supplies.

Next, I mounted everything on a 4×4″ post, 16′ in the air and ran an extension cord down the mast and plugged her in. After setting up the camera and the WET11, I was taking in a vantage point I couldn’t usually see.

The house is pretty much done and I have thousands of snapshots that I can now turn into a nice timelapse movie. With the camera’s original purpose fulfilled, I’m repurposing it to act as my fourth outdoor security camera.

You’re probably wondering why I skipped the part on how I got Wi-Fi to the camera… that’s going to be in a separate post, where I explain how I lit up my whole block with a Wi-Fi access point, signal booster, and a waterproof outdoor signal repeater (coupled with a 8db omnidirectional antenna). I live across the street from a park and it was a no brainer to also give it some Wi-Fi loving. Anyways, I’ll try to get that DIY posted here this week or next. Stay tuned…

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