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Trail Camera PIR motion sensor curtain modification.

Feb 3, 2015
Trail cameras have become very popular and I just wanted to share this information with other trail camera users out there.

Manufacturers offer many models of cameras at various price points. The difference between a low cost model and a higher cost model may only be in the software used by each model.

Most brands of cameras use many of the same common components.
A camera that costs $50.00 may use the same PIR motion sensor as a $500.00 camera.
Some camera manufacturers will intentionally make PIR motion sensor hardware modifications to some of their lowest price point products.

Low price point trail cameras tend to be manufactured with very narrow PIR motion sensor detection angels of 10 degrees or even less side to side.
An animal must wander into the center of the picture frame before the camera triggers. A 10 degree detection angel is only covering 25 percent of the area covered by the camera lens's 40 degree coverage angle.
Many animals may wander into the camera's 40 degree of view coverage angle but the camera will not be triggered because of it's very narrow PIR detection angel.

Trail Cameras with a wide PIR sensor detection zone will capture more images than those with a narrow detection zone. A wider PIR sensor detection zone can also help compensate for a camera with a slow trigger speed.

I opened cameras from 3 different manufacturers and found that the PIR sensors in 2 of these cameras had "curtains" that block the sides of their sensors, thereby narrowing their detection angles. The lowest priced model had a PIR detection angle of just 5 degrees.

These cameras were all beyond their warranty of 2 years and I have no intention of returning them for repairs so I decided to remove these curtains.

This plastic part is held in place by 4 screws that also hold the Fresnel lens in place. A sharp knife or a rotatory cutting tool can be used to remove the side curtains and increase the PIR motion sensor's angle.

I have done this modification to 6 of my cameras and they are now capturing about twice as many images after having completed this very simple and easy modification.

These sensor "curtains" may also be in the higher priced cellular / wireless trail cameras so that they send fewer images over data networks thereby lowering data plan costs were the camera manufacturer is supplying the data plan.

The more pictures a camera captures the shorter it's battery life will be and the larger it's memory card will have to be. It's a trade off !

This same image is used by several trail camera manufacturers to illustrate camera view / PIR sensor detection zone for cameras with "curtains" and without them.

I hope this information maybe helpful.