Norfolk in January

Walsingham Snowdrops
Walsingham Snowdrops

January has been quite sunny and mild this year so I visited the snowdrop walks in Walsingham abbey gardens. It was turning colder for the first day of the snowdrop walks

Only a few other people braved the cold on the first day
Only a few other people braved the cold on the first day

but it was a decent show for the end of January!

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Oxford Real Farming Conference 2015 – making a remote farm camera

This is a description of how to make a remote farm camera. Smallholders don’t always live on site, or you may have an island site somewhere without power. The simplest solution to get pictures from a remote site without power is to use a 3G trail camera and these work very well for tracking wildlife.

The trouble with this solution on a farm is that animals are meant to be on a farm all the time, Trail cameras look for warm-blooded critters so mammals and birds will set it off all the time, making this an expensive operation in MMS messages, which seems to be the preferred method. Even if you get a MMS bundle, trawling through the false alarms will bore you.

What we wanted of a remote farm camera

was to be able to check on how things were going, and whether something has been damaged by stormy weather. A CCTV camera on the farm would be fine, but the problem with this is the power drain, and getting the pictures back. If we had mains power this would be a lot easier, we could use a 3G CCTV DVR with remote access capability. You can easily get 12V CCTV gear, but the power drain of a typical DVR and camera is quite harsh – typically 1A or more. A typical leisure battery is 80Ah, but you should only use half of the capacity of a lead-acid battery that to avoid reducing the service life of the battery, and you must never fully discharge it. This gives you a battery life of less than two days.

Our remote farm camera uses a Raspberry Pi Model A and associated camera to take a picture every 15 minutes in the daytime and upload it to a website

Example picture from the camera

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