Bird box web cam project

This project was started in 2015 and added a Raspberry Pi in an outdoor enclosure along with an infra-red (IR) camera to the roof/side of an existing bird box that had been in place and had been used for several years.


bird box webcam


The image on the left shows the bird box on an outside wall of the house with the completed web cam enclosure and its associated ethernet/power feed cable in place.

The hardware build consists of:

  • an eBay sourced (i.e. non-official) Raspberry Pi IR camera which has an adjustable focus,
  • an array of IR LEDs used to surround the camera lens,
  • an ebay sourced DC-DC stepper board,
  • a longer than usual Raspberry Pi camera ribbon cable and a power cable for the IR LEDs used to connect back to the Pi,
  • a Raspberry Pi 2 model B 1GB,
  • a pair of TP-link power over ethernet (POE) boxes with their 48V power supply,
  • a plastic enclosure 'bolted on' to the side of the bird box to house some of the kit.



Power is supplied to the enclosure, along with the ethernet connection, with an outdoor quality ethernet cable connected to the pair of TP-link POE boxes that have the output set to 5V DC, i.e stepped down from the 48V supply to power the Raspberry Pi.

The DC-DC stepper board is then used inside the enclosure to take the 5V DC feed and step it back up to 12v DC to power the IR LEDs.


Build details:

The images below show some of the different steps in the 'hardware' build of the web cam:


Bird Box Build 01 Bird Box Build 07 Bird Box Build 02 Bird Box Build 03 Bird Box Build 04
enclosure used to house the
Raspberry Pi and other electronics
- templates used to position
self-adhesive stand-offs 
for mounting the Pi and
DC-DC stepper board
front and back views of
the infra-red LED array 
Raspberry Pi IR camera with an
adjustable lens attached to the
IR LED array
DC-DC stepper board used
to step up the 5v supply
to 12v for the IR LEDs
Raspberry Pi and DC-DC stepper
installed in enclosure with
camera/LED assembly
connected to Pi


Bird Box Build 05 Bird Box Build 11 Bird Box Build 13 Bird Box Build 12 Bird Box Build 14
TP-link POE box installed in the
enclosure so that power and
ethernet could be supplied
to the system
IR LED array and
camera with
a long camera connector cable
installed on an
MDF board 
camera's long connector
cable taken into the
enclosure through a cut slot
and the 12v LED power feed
goes through a separate
grommeted hole
The MDF board with the camera
and the LEDs is fitted at
an angle into the top of
the bird box with the camera
focus adjusted and board
positioned to provide the
best internal view
The enclosure is screwed
to the side of the bird box


System software:

A slightly modified opensource package (RPi-Cam-Web-Interface) was used as the core system and this package allows a wide range of functions to be easily achieved including:

  • View, stop and restart a live-preview with low latency and high framerate.
  • Control camera settings like brightness, contrast, etc.
  • Record full-hd videos and save them while the live-preview continues
  • Take single or multiple (timelapse) full-res pictures and save them
  • Preview, download and delete the saved videos and pictures, zip-download for multiple files
  • Trigger captures by motion detection
  • Trigger captures by many different scheduling options
  • Shutdown/reboot the Pi from the web interface
  • Show annotations (eg timestamp) on live-preview and taken images/videos

The opensource package uses an apache web server and is coded in PHP and can be easily customised - more details about the package can be obtained here.


During the 2016 'season' videos were recorded, triggered by motion detection, and for each video the system also records a small thumbnail image.

The set of images below show selected 'thumbnails' that summarise the sequence of events in 2016:

Vi 0740 20160323 073620.mp4.v0740.th Vi 0948 20160402 072128.mp4.v0948.th Vi 4992 20160522 052228.mp4.v4992.th Vi 5432 20160527 184350.mp4.v5432.th Vi 7278 20160608 085925.mp4.v7278.th Vi 7433 20160610 100739.mp4.v7433.th Vi 7530 20160611 053538.mp4.v7530.th
Early March: clearing out
the old nest
from last year
2nd April: starting to
build this year's nest
22nd May: at least 6 eggs laid 27th May: chicks
hatched and the
'feedathon' begins
8th June: number
of chicks now down to 2 :-(
10th June: two very
large chicks now
11th June: chicks
about to leave the
nest - they were gone
by 06:11 that day





Individual photography projects:


Different types of 'making' projects: