Trail Camera Lock

Introduction: Trail Camera Lock

We recently moved to a heavily wooded area and I wanted to get some pictures of our new woodland neighbors. On somewhat of a whim I purchased a trail camera. I'm pretty happy with what I got, but I didn't do all the research I should have.

After some conversations with other people I found out that security is a big issue with trail cameras. Apparently it's a common occurrence for thieves to walk away them. So I started doing research into locking mechanisms. The basic production version I found is similar to a bike lock and it cost about $35. I also found, which for another $35, offers a metal box that can also be secured to a tree, and prevents tampering with the camera. Honestly, I probably would have gone that route, but they did not have a box for the model of camera I bought.

So here's what I came up with.

Step 1: Gathering the Pieces

I somewhat formulated this on the fly at the hardware store.

1 - 36" Punched Zinc Plated Steel Bar

1 - 4' of 1/4" chain

1 - package of #10-32 x 1/2" screws (probably should have gotten 3/8")

1 - 1/4" Repair Link

4 - Washers (I had these in the shop)

1 - Padlock

Tools used:

4-1/5" Angle Grinder

Grinding Wheel



NOTE: Power tools like angle grinders and grinding wheels can be dangerous if not used properly. The author of this instructable takes no responsibility for anyone who gets hurt trying to do this.

Step 2: Setting the Bar

The camera I purchased had two screw mounts on the back. I took the camera with me to the hardware store to make sure the holes on the steel bar fit. If they hadn't I would have purchased a bar that didn't have any holes and drilled them myself.

First I cut the steel bar to the appropriate length using the angle grinder. I then rounded the corners using the grinding wheel.

The back of my camera has a little curve to it, assuming it will fit the contour of the tree so I bent the metal bar to fit the curve.

Finally, I bent a right angle at one end so it will be easier attach the lock.

The bar I purchased was fairly malleable, but significantly stronger than metal strapping used in plumbing.

Step 3: Time for the Chain

Now I took the repair link and attached it to the chain and the end of the bar without the right angle. Then I put the link in the vise and tightened as much as I could. There is a picture of the the repair link, it's not quite tight, but it'll be secure enough.

Step 4: Screw It

And now it's time to put it all together. The screws I bought where a little long, but the heads were a little small for the holes. That's where the washers come in. I had to use two on each as a spacer, but it worked well.

Step 5: Setup

Now all you have to do is take your padlock put it through the metal band, and wrap the chain around the tree and it's ready to go. The camera I bought is still vulnerable to people tampering with it and removing the memory card, but replacing a $5 SD card is a lot better than replacing a $100+ camera. The location of the padlock somewhat interferes, but if someone really wanted the SD card they could get it.

One possible improvement is painting the chain and metal bar so it won't be so noticeable against the tree. I'm sure I'll end up doing that sooner rather than later.

Please let me know if you have questions or comments. Thanks for viewing my instructable.

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    5 years ago

    Nice idea but chances are if someone is going to take the $5 SD card they are also going to take something else if they can - especially if you are using your trail camera for security purposes anyway. I've dealt with the commercial metal boxes that don't fit a particular camera by modifying them. I had one that was too small and simply cut a couple sections off the open faced area and grinded the cut areas smooth with a Dremel. On another metal lock box that was too big I used some hard rubber and cut rectangles out and lined the inside of the box with them (using glue) until the camera would be held snug. I also used Sugru along the edge where the on/off button was to make sure nobody can just reach in their with something and power off the camera.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is great. I have done the same but with a piece of wire rope. I have also made a hollowed log to put the camera in as it disguises it very well. Thanks for the info.