This mountain lion was photographed in Los Angeles County by Roy Dunn using the Scout Camera Trapping Sensor. See what else he captured at the same site below.
Scout - Trail Monitoring System
The Scout is a completely weatherproof, very rugged camera trapping trigger designed to be deployed in the field for months at a time all with no user intervention. Incredibly easy to use and all of the configurable features you will need for your next camera trapping project. The Scout includes directional triggering, active and sleep time windows and it is all powered from AA batteries. The system is available with two different transmitters, a base transmitter for lower cost, or the standard transmitter for the most flexibility. See comparison.
Scout Highlights and Features
- Creates a beam that when interrupted fires your camera.
- Very Rugged UV resistant polycarbonate housing.
- Can be set up for directional triggering in order to avoid the infamous "butt" shot. (requires standard transmitter)
- Will not trigger due to temperature changes or rain.
- Components powered by 6AA Batteries
- Battery life on one set of Eneloop rechargeable batteries is at least 100 Days
- Includes an external power jack for longer term assignments.
- Easy to read OLED display.
- Camera control is completely customizable.
- Start and Stop Video recording with Sony cameras using this optional cable.
- Use the trigger with video or still cameras - even those that need to be "kept alive".
- Flash hardware control.
- Real Time Clock
- Two active time windows - Program the times of day you want the system to be active
- Included 1/4-20 tripod mounting plate
- Housing is weather proof - designed to be left in the weather.
- Features all weather proof connectors.
- Can be locked up by optional Python cable for security.
- Equipped with USB to facilitate firmware updates.
- PIN based lockout system to prevent the mischievous from changing your settings.
- Part of a larger system that will include wireless camera and flash control - more information coming soon!
- Length: 140 mm (5.5 in)
- Width: 89 mm (3.5 in)
- Height: 38 mm (1.5 in)
- Weight: 0.318 kg (11 oz) (not including batteries)
- External Input Voltage: 5 to 20 VDC
- Max Range: 40 m (130 ft) (transmit power set to high)
- Battery Life: >100 days
- Operating Temperature: -40 to 80C (-40 to 176F)
- Response Time: 25mS max (max transmit speed)
Most often when camera trapping you will use Scout to control the camera and the camera to control the flashes. This is the use case shown in the diagram above. If you are interested in using Scout to sync the flashes it is done using the same connection scheme shown for the Sabre here. The unconnected RCA connector in the diagram is the Flash-Sync-Input and is not used in this connection scheme. The default timing will assert the camera shutter and 1/2 press simultaneously so for most cases no additional configuration is required. The camera shutter cable can be selected from a drop down list at the time of ordering. You can also use Scout to stop and start video recording on your Sony camera with this optional cable.
Shown to the left is the Scout transmitter strapped to a tree with our optional tree bracket - both are then locked to the tree with a Master Lock Python Cable (5/16") Lock. Scout will accept cables up to 10 mm in diameter
Scout can be configured so that a 4 digit PIN is required to make any settings changes. Once the PIN Lockout is enabled Scout can not even be turned off without the PIN. Cognisys must be contacted to unlock the sensor if the PIN is forgotten.
Long Range and Timing Windows
Of course the best security is keeping the system hidden. Scout has long enough range that it is not necessary to place the transmitter or receiver right on the trails edge. Put them off the path to keep them hidden. Then the timing windows can be set so the system is active only when humans are less likely to be around.
See Who's Visiting
One of the best thing about camera trapping is that you never know who will show up. This camera trap was set up near a small spring where all sorts of critters would come by for a drink. A hearty thank you to the Transition Habitat Conservancy for giving Roy permission to shoot here. The images below were captured in the same location with the same setup as the mountain lion above.
If you click on the thumbnails and have a look at the larger images you can see bees and wasps flying around several of the images (they are very obvious in the Turkey Vulture image). With the Scout set to the fastest transmit rate and the highest sensitivity Scout was triggering on these insects as well as on the birds and mammals that were visiting. A quick change to the settings to reduce the sensitivity and transmit rate to medium eliminates these nuisance triggers without sacrificing any triggers from birds or mammals. Another change to the settings for this shoot was to add a time window for when Scout was active. Scout was set up to trigger only during the night time hours when the bigger critters come out. This cut way down on the number of small birds and squirrels triggering the system during the day. All of these images were eating up the flash and camera batteries. This gives you a feel for the flexibility of Scout for camera trapping. If you have done any camera trapping you already know you need as much flexibility as you can get.
Scout in the Field
While we certainly do not recommend submersing any of your camera gear including the Scout, we thought this was a pretty good demonstration of the durability of the system. Gerry Trudeau is a Scout owner in Canada, he lives in the Yukon at about 62 degrees north lattitude. Just a bit further north than Anchorage Alaska. He recently sent the following note with the images below attached.
"Hi, I thought I'd send you a quick note on your Scout that is claimed to be weather proof. Attached is a photo of the scout transmitted while deployed. What you're looking at is the scout transmitter attached to a large tripod and they are both under a layer of creek ice. I had deployed a scout camera trap to catch some of the animals that follow the easy walking of the frozen creek. The following week we had a warm spell with above freezing temperatures. Just so happed I was also sick the following week and my trap was an hour drive and then a 45min hike up the creek, needless to say, I wasn't able to retrieve it for a week. By the time I got there....my first thought was someone stole everything as nothing was there....On closer inspection, everything was submerged in water and trapped under a new top layer of ice. My camera and lens are totalled which I dug out first. I was expecting my scout receiver and transmitter to also be totalled and when I dug out the scout receiver, just for fun i hit the power button and saw the familiar "see ya" when it powers off. I decided to take a few photos digging out the transmitter and was equally shocked that it was still 100% functional. Later at home, I opened the battery compartment on both and both were perfectly dry. I was a little shocked as I don't have enough of the water tight caps for the connectors and the 3 pin connector on the transmitter only had a wrap of electrical tape around it. Pretty impressed with how rugged this unit is....I claim it to be ice and ice waterproof, never mind weatherproof. I lost my camera, lens and 2 SB 28 flashes but was very happy and amazed my scout survived."
Gerry, Yukon Canada
Some of Gerry's Other Work with Scout
Many thanks to Gerry for sharing his story and images! You can see more of Gerry's work on his Webpage.