Birdhouse! Always fun to have some life in the garden during spring time, so the best thing is to put one up early. And in winter other birds may even use it as a place to sleep.
Choice of bird fell on the Great Tit! I like tits...
(ps. i borrowed the pics from somewhere on the net, credit goes to the photographers offcourse)
Step 1: Drawing It All Up
For the specific birds ("Great Tit", "Koolmees" or Parus Major) i would like to invite to come and stay over, it's a bottom surface of approx 12cmx12cm. Entrance height should be approx 18cm and entrance itself 32mm. If you want to build one for other birds, do some searching and you'll find the preferred dimensions. Now to be honest, these birds will nest pretty much everywhere apparently.
I made some sketches in MS Word. A notepad and a pencil would probably do as well ;-)
As you can see, i made some wild plans, based on rough assumptions, like width and length of the wood i had. The actual birdhouse came out a little different, but it's pretty close.
Step 2: Off to the Shed...
First of all measure, measure again, draw it all up on the wood and get out the saw. I chose the angle of the roof to be 15 degrees. This was easiest for me, since my (powered) saw could also be set to saw at 15 degrees. When it was all sawed out, i sanded everything and did a trail fit with a clamp.
Step 3: Assembly
I then drilled out the entrance (30mm). I used a small drill (same size as the nails i had) and pre-drilled the sides, 8 holes 3 on each long side and 2 in the bottom. Sanded everything down again and when everything was prepped, i applied glue on the sides. I then put everything together, clamped it down and let the glue set for an hour or so. I then hammered the (big-head) nails in. I like the way it looks, no need to hide the nails.
Step 4: The Roof
This is kind of hard to explain, but in the pic's you'll see the choices i made. Plan was to make 2 support brackets to hold the roof, which would slot in the top of the birdhouse. Cut at the X.
Crap... the wood snapped... Oh well, things will never go perfect ;-)
One attempt later i had two brackets.
I took measurements of the inside of the top of the birdhouse and drew it up on the workbench. Add the thickness of the front, back and sides of the birdhouse and add some overlap so it looks esthetically pleasing and keeps the rain out of the entrance a bit as well. I cut the the two roof parts' sides at an angle as well, to make them fit nicely together at the center.
Now i pre-drilled some holes in the two roof parts and stuck the nails in.
Put some woodglue on the 2 support brackets and at the point where the two halves will fit together. Yes, i put on way too much glue. But.. i used all the excess glue and smeared it on the sides and the top, making it more waterproof.
When the pieces where in place, i hammered the nails in the support brackets.
Step 5: Finishing Touch: Spraypaint.
When all was finished, i put a few layers of clearcoat on the entire birdhouse. Now i realised that the woodglue caused some stains. But since that is mostly on the roof, thats ok.
Finished it off with a small steel bracket (happened to have it laying around) on the back to hang it from.
The birds have been making good use of the new house!
This summer they've been flying in and out like crazy. Unfortunately, someone was really eager to know if there where young inside. Long story short, parents didn't come back, young birdies died.
So... to satisfy this need of information, i needed to come up with something this winter for next spring.
I noticed that since i cleaned out the old nest, the house was being used as a motel...
Step 6: Adding a (IR) Webcam
The idea is not new: add a webcam.
Now i suspect the birdhouse is going to be quite dark on the inside, even in the daytime, so we need to tweak the webcam a little bit.
The way i tweaked it is by removing the IR filter. This way the cam shows everything as if it was daytime! Ok, you loose some color, but that's not really important for this purpose.
How to do it
First disassemble the webcam as shown in the first pic. Now the webcam i used, an old Logitech webcam, is very easy to take apart. In fact, so easy i forgot to take pictures and tossed the rest of the cam in the trash...
Secondly, unscrew the focus element, it contains the small lens a pinhole 'filter' and the IR filter.
Third step is that we need to get to the IR Filter. Now to be able to pry the lens out, i made an incision in the side of the lens-element. After some attempts i was able to get the lens out. Underneath the lens was the Pinhole disc. This is to make sure not too much light hits the CCD sensor.
Unfortunately the IR filter was glued onto the pinhole-disc. And i killed it. So.. Oh well. Next!
If you want IR only (for night vision) you need to block all other light. A very simple way to do this is to use a fully developed piece of film-negative. Get the blackest part at the end of the negatives and cut out a little piece and fold it together. Insert this in the lens holder, put the pinhole disc on top, pop the lens back in and your all set!
If you want the full spectrum, just leave it out! (colors can look pretty weird though)
In the end it turned out to be so dark in the birdhouse, i removed the pinhole disc as well.
Step 7: Adding Things Together
You see the result, it sucks...
You're supposed to see an old cellphone on top of something else so simulate to height of a birds nest with birds in. You don't.
Damn it's really really dark in there! I thought it would be ok, due to light entering from the entrance, but apparently not so much.
I did not have any IR led's lying around but i did find some small micro-bulbs. (No, i don't know why i had them in the first place...)
Spec's are 6-12V 20-40mA. So it barely lights up connected to 5V usb power.
It's a whole lot better! Not great, but ok. Hey, it's a crappy old webcam to begin with.
Step 8: Final Assembly
Moisture and PCB's usually do not go together well. So... the easiest way to 'moisture-proof' it, would be drowning it in candlewax (paraffin). I removed the focusable part of the cam and put some black tape on. Lit some candles and waited. And waited.
And waited. Then i gently poored it onto the pcb. Messy! :-) Took a hobby-knife and removed the excess wax.
Took the saw out and made a piece of 3mm triplex fit between the two brackets of the roof.
Drilled 3 holes, one big enough to fit the camera, one for the micro light bulb and one for the microphone.
Tested the cam once more, it still worked ok! Now i fixed the rest in place and it was time to light some more candles and wait.
Dripped the backside of the PCB also completely full with wax and was done.
Built it all together and put it up on the side of the shed! In this location the birdhouse will get the morning sun and cool in the afternoon, which they like :-)
Step 9: Wait...
I'll put up pics when there is news!
By coincedence i was looking out the window this evening and saw this little one sitting on the fence. Stayed sitting in the same place looking around for almost 5 minutes. (kind of unique for this kind of bird) looking around. Then it went for it :-)
I thought i saw it fly out while zooming in (was standing too far away at the time and used superzoom (16+ times zoom))
An hour later i decided to check if there was maybe nesting going on, but it seems it's being used as a hotel for now.
I know the pics are crappy, but hey it's not a high def cam in there :-)
Step 10: 2013 Video Update
This year we've got 6 youngsters opening their beaks :-)