Dawn till Dusk LED

HI all. I'm planning a bird nest box for next year that will have a camera in it. In order for there to be enough light for the camera to see properly I want to install a simple little LED light in the roof of the box that will light the inside of the box during the day but go out at night so as not to disturb the sleeping patterns of the birds etc. Or put another way, it should mimic the sun; being on during the day and off at night. It would also be preferable for the LEDs to dim slowly rather than snapping on or off. I understand that I can do this with a with a light dependent resistor but I'm not sure how to go about wiring it up or what other components I will need other than I think I want about four/six white LEDs and a 9v battery to power it all. I have found plenty of tutorials for the reverse of what I want but I'm not sure how to adapt them. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Many thanks.

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Can be used in a lot of applications
I built a bird house last year with solar panels and a wireless inferred camera in it. That way the birds were not disturbed by the light :)
NachoMahma9 years ago
. Could you "direct drive" the LEDs from a battery of solar cells? This would provide you with a natural photoperiod and track ambient brightness.
pheos (author)  NachoMahma9 years ago
Now that sounds like a plan!
I just went looking for solar cells on my usual suppliers website and found this: http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?ModuleNo=2310&doy=11m6#overview which looks like it would do the job very well. Should work out cheaper than a battery powered system as well.

Am I right in thinking that two LEDs that require 3.6v @ 20mA (4v Max) to operate would be fine with that solar panel which can be configured to output 3.2 @100mA? can that be done without additional components or would i need a resistor? Or have I confused myself.
. You will need to match the panel output to the LEDs, but I'm not sure how to do it. Probably a resistor would be all that you would need. Someone that knows should sound off before long.
pheos (author) 9 years ago
oops! remove the comma on the end of that URL for it to work.
pheos (author) 9 years ago
Thanks for the reply’s guys. The camera I’m using already has IR LED’s on it so night vision is not a problem. It’s a colour camera that switches to black and white when the light levels fall. However during the day I want to light the inside of the box with the white LEDs to make sure that the camera is in colour mode and can see clearly. I want to ‘relay’ the sun if that makes sense.
And I thing you may be right. 4 or 6 LEDs would be very bright, so maybe 1 or 2 behind a diffuser.

The Idea for lighting came from the BBC’s Springwatch programme which is currently on in the UK. They put cameras in nest boxes all over the place. Have a look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/springwatch/behindthescenes/story/mini_cam.shtml, Image 3 in particular

They appear to manually operate the dimming of the LEDs but as I don’t have the benefit of a TV production team I need to come up with an automated system. Basically the reverse of the standard dusk till dawn.
Patrik9 years ago
Use an infrared LED instead of white ones - it'll be invisible to the birds, but visible to your camera with some simple modifications. One LED is probably enough, and you could leave it one 24 hours, unless you want to conserve your battery (it'll still burn 2-3 times longer than 4-6 white LEDs on half the time).

Plus, you'll get those cool "nightvision" images, like the professionals... :-)
Kiteman Patrik9 years ago
Kiteman9 years ago
I'm not sure an LED would be a good idea - if the nest-box is too bright, it might put them off using it.

What about a low-light or infra-red camera, the sort of thing they sell as door security?

If you illuminate with (invisible to the birds) IR, then you don't need to bother about fading up or down, just power them from the camera's power supply so they're on when needed and off when not.

Oh, I've found what you need:

Here on instructables