At Spike’s we use the peculiarly-named 808 Keys #16 V2 camera for our video footage (with D-type wide-angle lens). Favoured mainly by security professionals and radio control enthusiasts, with a few adaptations these tiny cameras make pretty good wildlife cameras. They aren’t really consumer-grade ‘point and go’ devices, but with some popular ‘trailcams’ costing £hundreds they are a pretty cheap way of getting good-looking video. With a 32Gb micro SD card the 808 will provide nearly ten hours of 720p video, providing you have an external (5v) power supply attached. On it’s own, the internal battery will last about an hour, which can still be useful. For more detailed information on these cameras, take a look at Chuck Lohr’s excellent site. He also warns of making sure to avoid sellers trying to pass off low quality copies of these cameras, my own preferred seller is Eletoponline365 on eBay.
Even though the instructions are rather limited, and there’s but one single LED indicator to show you the camera’s status, online support for the cameras is excellent. Software is available for easily adjusting the camera’s settings and updating firmware at Isoprop’s Website (there’s even a version for Android!)
The 808 isn’t really designed for nightvision, so before we can use it we need to remove the IR filter behind the lens. Here’s my simple technique, which is probably quite good for a beginner as you don’t need to open the body of the camera. It goes without saying that I’m presenting this for information purposes only, and I will not be held liable for any damage that you may cause yourself or your equipment!
You’ll need a good sharp knife and a pair of mole grips (stubby-nosed pliers should also be okay). The electrical tape is optional, any thick tape will do.
With the lens cap removed, line the jaws of your pliers with a short strip of tape to keep the lens barrel from getting scuffed and scratched. Then grasp the lens assembly firmly and twist the camera body as shown to loosen the threadlock glue and remove the lens barrel. If you’re using mole grips, take care not to over-tighten them as you could crush the metal barrel and cause irreperable damage to the glass elements inside. Having said that, new lenses (like all accessories for the 808) are amazingly cheap, so it’s not the end of the world.
As soon as the lens barrel is free from the camera, place the body face down on your work surface to stop any dust or dirt getting onto the exposed CCD chip inside.
Now take the lens barrel and you’ll see a red-tinted square of glass fixed to the back by four tiny drops of glue. Gently scrape the tops of the dots away with the tip of your knife and you should soon be able to lever the glass away. As an over-zealous tinkerer I keep mine safely stored away, but can’t realistically imagine using them again! If you think you’ll ever be using your 808 for daylight use, better to buy an extra lens off eBay than fiddle about trying to put the filter back on.
With the glass off, you can scrape away the remains of the glue dots, though take care not to scratch the exposed optics.
Before screwing the lens back into the camera body, I remove the threadlock glue from the outside of the barrel to allow me a degree of focus adjustment. This may not suit everyone’s setup, but at Spike’s the cameras inside and outside the main feeder box require a different focus setting. Also, now that the camera is being used solely for infared video, the daylight focus won’t be any use now anyway.
With the lens screwed back into the camera body you will have to re-focus it. For this, put the camera into ‘webcam mode’, which simply means switch it on without a micro SD card in the slot and connect it to your computer. Then, with your choice of webcam software (I use either the Android utility or AMCAP) adjust the focus by rotating the lens until you get the sharpest image, bearing in mind how far you expect your subject(s) to be from the lens. I downloaded and printed out this target image I found on the web and placed it a suitable distance from the camera under IR lighting, but I’m just fussy.
Once you’re happy with the focus, it’s a good idea to mark the lens and body with a stripe for reference. I use white nail varnish, but any quick-drying paint should do. I also paint the large power button to make it stand out in the dark. As a rule of thumb, if your stripe marks the lens for best far focus then, as you face the lens, turning the stripe anti-clockwise a couple of millimetres should be good for close focus.
Before using the camera you’ll need to adjust a couple of settings to get the best results. Using the Nr16Setup utility, here’s how my settings look.
Any questions, just ask!