camera on a hummingbird feeder Sunday, June 21 2020
Yesterday I'd prepared another surveillance robot, which I based on the shrunken image of the Disturbatron MicroSD card and a Raspberry Pi Zero (the kind without built-in WiFi, meaning I had to add a USB WiFi dongle). The mission for this bot would be to watch hummingbirds directly from the hummingbird feeder. The entire thing was so small, it could easily be installed on the feeder's sugar water reservoir, with the camera itself tight against one of the flowers. My first attempt was to use a Raspberry Pi camera with a built-in macro fish-eye lens, but I quickly discovered that this camera lacked an infrared filter, which resulting in glowing cream-colored vegetation and other color anomalies. I then tried a standard Raspberry Pi camera, to which I added a macro-lens (attached magnetically), but it was so bulky that it barely left room at the faux flower for the hummingbird's bill. Also, there was no obvious way to change the focus, and objects closer than about a foot from the camera were blurry because it wasn't a particularly severe lens. Still, I managed to get some interesting clips of male hummingbirds.
Later this afternoon, I switched back to the fish-eye camera, despite its weird colors. And as darkness fell, I illuminated the perch on the hummingbird feeder so I cold continue recording video. In bright artificial light with that IR-filter-free camera, the colors on the hummingbirds seemed correct, though their intensity was literally supernatural.
Other chores today included a few boring garden tasks, such as putting in sticks to support the tomatoes, which are getting too tall to stand on their own.
There was some shooting down at the bus turnaround this afternoon, so eventually I went into the forest on the Gulleys Trail just above where the gunfire was coming from and did some heckling (mostly of the form "We live here! You don't live here! Shoot where you live!"). The shooting stopped, but I stayed to drink most of a Modelo beer, meaning I was still there when another shot rang out. I shouted that one down too, and there was no more shooting for the rest of the day. Given that yesterday had been a beautiful day and there had been no shooting at all, it seems our efforts to discourage shooting at the bus turnaround are starting to pay dividends.
This evening, Gretchen made just a light salad containing chickpeas, and, as with nearly all foods, it was delicious when eaten with little torn-off pieces of injera.
Earlier today, I'd noticed that my Raspberry-Pi-based telescope surveillance bot had stopped working. Initially I thought this was because of WiFi interference from the new surveillance bot on the hummingbird feeder. But this evening when I brought that surveillance bot into the laboratory, I realized that the Raspberry Pi it was based on (a Model I B) wasn't working. I tried swapping in two different SD cards, but it refused to boot. Evidently it had died, though I couldn't think of any new thing that could have happened to it that would have caused it to fail. I'd accidentally hit it with gardenhose water the other day, but it had worked for more than a day after I dried it out. Perhaps, though, that water had caused unseen electrical problems that would take a couple days to manifest. It doesn't often happen that I experience the spontaneous death of electronics, but I've had a couple incidents of it lately. The other recent electronic death I recently mourned was that of a Netgear eight-port gigabit switch. Some years ago, one of its ports had died, which meant it had become a seven-port switch. What happened more recently wasn't technically a death, but it might as well have been: suddenly all the ports slowed down from 1 gigabit to 1 megabit for reasons unknown. A switch with such low speeds is functionally useless, particularly given that I have perfectly good 100 megabit switches gathering dust on a shelf.
Viewed from the non-fisheye-lens camera that has an IR filter. The male hummingbird is out of focus but it's still a fun video.
A female hummingbird hovers over the feeder. This is without an IR filter in natural light.
Viewed in-focus from the fisheye-lens camera without an IR filter. This is with artificial illumination.