Monday, 14 April 2014

Solar Powered Bird Box

I received an excellent birthday present from the mother-in-law this year. A small video camera kit for use in a nesting box.

It comes with a 9v mains power supply for the camera but I decided to hack this a little and power it from the sun. Meaning free power and no need to run a cable into the house. 

However, I needed a nesting box to put it in. I had some leftover 15cm pine shelving in the shed, so I spent the first sunny afternoon of the year in the garden with my mitre saw and came up with this little sanctuary.


The RSPB website has loads of info for DIY bird boxes, such as hole size, dimensions etc. I'm using untreated pine so it's essential to paint it with a pet safe wood preserver. 

The camera kit is pretty simple. The camera itself is quite small and broadcasts to a receiver unit that plugs into the TV. 
I found the camera worked well off a normal 9v square battery. The plan was to get a 9v solar panel and use that to keep the battery charged when the camera is not being used.

I purchased a 9v solar panel via ebay and a the cable and toggle switch from Maplin. The wiring is pretty straight forward. The solar panel has a diode pre-fitted. A diode needs to be used with a solar panel to pull the power down from the panel into the battery. You also need to isolate the battery from the camera when not in use, otherwise the camera will drain the battery quicker than the panel can charge it. 

The solar panel, battery and switch are inside a small bike shed directly beneath where I've put the nest box.


I installed the switch on the outside of the shed in a waterproof casing, so when I want to view the feed from the camera I just switch it on here and turn on the TV. At present this means I need to go outside when I want to switch the camera on. I would like to come up with some sort of wireless remote switch.

To date, nobody has taken up residence in the box. When they do, I'll post some pictures up here.