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The Crittergram Capture Cam combines several common components and software libraries to assemble a basic motion-sensing camera that takes photos whenever something interrupts the field of a Passive InfraRed (PIR) sensor.

We’ve explored the PIR sensor with previous Weekend Projects, namely the Monkey Couch Guardian and the perspiciously titled PIR Sensor Arduino Alarm. The former activates a relay to drive a toy, and the latter combines all the things from its title for a simple security system.

The Crittergram dives in deeper than previous projects with regards to software, while still retaining an ‘Easy’ rating. All the code is provided, and no soldering is required. Once you’ve gathered the necessary components, you can have this project up and running in under 30 minutes.

The Crittergram extends the capabilities of the Arduino with the inclusion of an SD card “shield,” or expansion board. In this project images taken with the camera module will be written to an SD card. (On the project page instructions are also provided for replacing the SD card shield with an Ethernet or wi-fi shield and turning the Crittergram into a remote webcam.)

In this Fritzing illustration the modules are shown plugged into the Arduino, when in fact they are plugged into the shield atop the Arduino. You can see pin 8 on the Arduino is used to provide the PIR sensor with power.

In this Fritzing illustration the modules are shown plugged into the Arduino, when in fact they are plugged into the shield atop the Arduino. You can see pin 8 on the Arduino is used to provide the PIR sensor with power.

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Then, by combining several software libraries into one and re-programming the Arduino, we have ourselves a basic infrared motion-sensing camera. The project will only take photos whenever an object interrupts the field of the PIR sensor. It will take continuous shots but not too rapidly, because the camera and SD card both must buffer the image. However the frames are sequential, which we found can be turned into fun animated GIFs:

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The Crittergram combines several components (and their software capabilities) into a novel project. Watch the video below to see how simple it is to assemble the Crittergram Capture Cam.

If you assemble this project as-is or modify it in any way to build something new, take some photos and send us an email with a story of your experience. Tag your photos online and we’ll be watching for your #crittergram!

Update: The project’s source code can be located here on GitHub.

Nick Normal

I’m an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!


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Comments

  1. ranggarain says:

    Hi, I’m rangga. I’m Indonesian. I’m Collage student. can I get source code? I want to learn.

    1. Nick Normal says:

      Hi Ranggarain,
      You can download all the source code here:
      https://github.com/Make-Magazine/Crittergram-Capture-Cam

      Good luck! And send me shots of your build and images captured when you complete this project. I’m at nicknormal [at] gmail [dot] com – thanks!

  2. Sarah H says:

    This is a great idea for a project! I’m a beginner and want to do this, but have no idea how to code it. Could we have the source code?

    1. Nick Normal says:

      Hi Sarah,
      You can download all the source code here:
      https://github.com/Make-Magazine/Crittergram-Capture-Cam

      Good luck! And send me shots of your build and images captured when you complete this project. I’m at nicknormal [at] gmail [dot] com – thanks!

  3. listingexperimental says:

    Hello, made a critter cam, but it seems to only work a little bit. I’m not sure the cause, but the camera takes a few good pictures, and then it starts getting distorted with pink/red pixels increasing until it’s pretty much an in recognizable photo with weird bright pixels.
    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    Jack