Monday 23 April 2012

Widescreen upgrade for Birdbox 1

Over the weekend I upgraded my first Birdbox webcam to the improved design I used for the Woodpecker nest box camera, with a wide angle lens to capture the whole floor, and splayed IR LEDs to avoid whiteout/glare.
Xbox webcam original lens, forward IR LEDsXbox webcam, 2.8mm CCTV lens, splayed IR LEDs
During the upgrade I considered replacing the camera mounting in order to rotate the camera, but decided the confined box made it too much effort. With the new lens I can now capture the whole floor and some of the side walls - the view shifted slightly while reattaching the box to the wall - but it will do.

I don't expect a nest in the box this season now, but since Great Tit and spider visits and the wasp visit, I have had blue tits dropping in - two at once in fact! The combination of the small bird box and the standard Xbox webcam's lens meant a rather cropped view of the action - that and the lack of sound made it hard to be sure if this was a squabble or a pair:
I assume it was the same pair back the next morning:

I was pretty pleased with these shots, despite the 'white out' from the IR LEDs, but the framing was annoying me. One of the birds actually seemed to have a nap at the back of the box, almost completely off the bottom of the pictures. What I needed was a wider angle lens in this small bird box - and to splay the LEDs out (which I'd done on the three bird box cameras I'd setup since - improving the design as I learnt).

I recently bought and tested a set of CCTV board lens with the Xbox Live Vision webcam, but since that wide angle 2.8mm lens went into the woodpecker box, I bought another 2.8mm lens on eBay for this birdbox. This time the lens had a much shorter screw thread, and couldn't reach focus with the Xbox camera's mounting block. Therefore I replaced it with a taller mounting block from another webcamera (as explored in that post). For this purpose I don't want an IR filter on the block or lens, which was fortunate. Since the new lens is a different length and the original plastic cover wouldn't fit it, I used some blu-tack to seal the gap for moisture protection (and to stop the lens wobbling out of focus).

Fingers crossed for more visitors before too long, and that the motion webcam monitoring software will catch some more good pictures. Probably not of these two Blue Tits - I think they were looking a for a Plan B during the temporary Tree Sparrow invasion, but they are now nesting in Bird Box 3.

Update (24 April)

The new camera is working nicely - a sparrow visited this morning which was nice:

Unfortunately for the Blue Tits, the Sparrows have also been back inspecting Bird Box 3...

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