How does it work?

An infrared beam in front of the seed compartment serves as an optical tripwire, setting off the camera when it is tripped. Both the tripwire and the camera are controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer, which is connected to the Internet via WiFi.

Robust detection: working straight through a blizzard!
Robust detection: working straight through a blizzard!

Broadly similar ideas underlie a range of other devices, from traditional camera traps to the Feeder Tweeter. Our major improvement on earlier efforts is the detection scheme: an IR tripwire is both cheaper and more reliable than the commonly used passive IR or ultrasonic detectors. As shown on the right, it worked even during the historic 2015 Boston winter storms!

Our guiding principle was to minimize the cost and complexity of the device to keep it within reach of beginning makers (such as ourselves!). If you have suggestions for further improvements along these lines, or plan to build a Paparazzi Bird Feeder of your own, get in touch!

How to build one?

The instructions below describe how we built our own paparazzi bird feeder from scratch.

  1. Parts and tools we used.
  2. Building a weatherproof enclosure.
  3. Software setup.
  4. Assembling the electronics.
  5. Operating the bird feeder.

Lets birds leave you postcards.