One of the most frustrating things for trail camera users is having to sort through 1000s of false triggers. I absolutely hate it, it's a giant waste of time, and most of the time it’s our fault. So how can you eliminate false trigger events?
To eliminate false triggers we need to understand where they come from. There are a few different culprits that can cause false triggers but before we dive into those, we need to understand how a trail camera is actually triggered.
Trail cameras work off of PIR sensors. These sensors are not triggered on motion as many people believe. A PIR sensor actually detects any change in infrared radiation of the monitored area. When it detects change the camera is triggered. That is critical knowledge to get more out of your camera setups. If you really want to geek out and get a more in depth understanding of trail camera detection circuits, check this other blog out... How Trail Camera Detection Circuits Work.
Now let’s take a look at causes of false triggers...
There are several components of hardware in your trail camera that can effect trigger events. Understanding that trail cameras work through voltage signals, ensure proper power supply is key. At the same point in time if a resistor, capacitor, or even circuitry has a failure, it could cause problems with your PIR. If you have a burned out element of PIR sensor in the camera it will cause what we call a runaway PIR, where you have continuous false images regardless of where the camera is placed. An easy way to test this is to eliminate the variables of power supply and environment by setting the camera up in a cabinet or against a wall with new lithium batteries and a freshly formatted SD card. It shouldn’t take a bunch of photos, if it does you probably have a HW issue at hand.
Some other causes you're likely much more aware of, objects like grass, leaves, branches, etc moving in the detection area of the camera. However, it’s not movement alone. Its movement in relation to change of infrared radiation. So what the hell does that actually mean…its from the sun. As sunlight hits an object or leaves an object, the object's temperature changes, the IR radiation changes and when those objects begin to move it causes the camera to trigger. We can take that a step further and know that the same thing can happen with shadows in more sensitive PIR sensors when cameras are placed in harsh lighting conditions. Harsh lighting contrast is important to remember here, not only to help eliminate false triggers but it also help increase photo and video quality.
The summer time is the worst time of the year for these scenarios, so this year when you’re out placing your cameras for #velvetfest keep this mind so you don’t find yourself scrolling through 1000’s of false triggers.
Author: Chad Sylvester, Exodus Co-Founder/Owner