GSM Android Phone As HD Outdoor Webcam




About: I am a researcher working on development of optical atomic clocks. Electronics is my hobby since childhood when my uncle was bringing me old phones to play and take apart.

This instrucable is about building a webcam that could be placed outdoors anywhere in the World where is accessible mobile phone network. It could be used to observe birds, animals, woods, mountains, rivers or lakes. Or it can be placed in the city to monitor traffic jams, construction sites, or weather, or in the country house to keep an eye on it in the absence.

Instructable is in the file below.

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    12 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Great Job. Well Done!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    OpenSmartcam based on MobileWebcamApp.
    Includes PIR motion detector waking up phone by charging pulse


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Like IRONSMITTER says..Awsome to read of like interests. Great job!

    I set up an timed snapshot ftp upload using a palm treo about 7 years ago, with 20w solar panel, 12v 5amp 60w auto solar power controller (Pure-SolarStar), 12v gel battery and car lighter charger.
    I had purchased the components originally to run a garden fountain, and tried it with my mobile phone.
    It worked fine, but I did not do extended test as the phone camera resolution was not great.
    I am now trying to do it again with an android phone, but as you stated by not entering the sleep mode power consumption is too high.
    My problem is, the android battery connector has 3 tabs, and being most inexpert I don't know how to wire it up. Can you help me please.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Guys,
    It's really nice to see that other people have the same idea to turn a cheap Andriod phone in a outdoor webcam :-)
    I'm interessed in a solar charging of the phones akku. But all the solar charger which you can buy @ebay have normally a big drawback: First the "external" battery which comes with the solar panel must be charged (100%) before you can charge your phones battery. Sometimes you need to unplug the solar panel and plug in the phones connector. In the end this means, those system could not run autonomously.
    When I would do it the other way around and directly connect a solar panel to the USB port of the phone (using Z-diodes to protect the phone (Leerlaufspannungsspitzen) it may charge the phone battery directly but a higer power drain must be accepted because of the phone may forget the power saving mode when it thinks it is USB-powered.
    So what about charging the battery not via USB port about directly on the batterys connector? Do I then have to care about "battery loading controlling"? Or is the battery itself smart enough to stop charging?
    You wrote you have ordered some solar modules from ebay, what is your experience?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Yeppers. background data is one of the FIRST things I toggle off. good catch!

    WiFi is a mixed bag though.

    The data my phone DOES use... Well, my reception SUCKS!
    So, by using wifi, my phone spends much less time in high-power cell broadcasting mode. The trade off for me is worth it. YOUR mileage may vary.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Good job.

    If you can treat the html for the images look good, put this tag below the head (html). add style, view:

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, your code worked perfectly. I am beginnser in CSS.
    The imgage properties are redifined and every linked image is rotated.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    sorry to hear about that phones tenancy to turn it's screen on when plugged in.
    there may be a software switch for that, under the power managment.
    I know I have my android phone set to stay on permanently as long as it's plugged in. That let's me use it as a clock too, when i set it up by the bed(just using a VERY dark brackground and brightness turned way down)

    I think a 10W panel will be SUPER overkill.
    Even presuming that it is a 12 volt panel... that's almost a whole amp of charging current! Most phones, even under constant heavy use, can still get some charge out of half that! :-) Even on a cloudy day, with 1/10th power... My phone usually charges at a 150mA rate.

    That second solar charger... they are neat, and should work well for your intended use. Be aware however, that the claimes of battery capacity inside are greatly exaggerated. It says 1500 mAh, but expect closer to 1000, or even 800 of real world output. The other part of that is, since your phone IS sleeping most of the time, there should be plenty of power available in that to keep you going for a long time.

    Ich sehe die Links für E-Bay sind in Deutsch.
    Es ist so lassen Sie mich beugen meiner winzigen kenntnisse der sprache, und sagen: Machen Sie weiter so gute arbeit, und danke für die Buchung der instructable auf Englisch :-) (sorry, I KNOW i must have butchered that. it's been a couple years since I've spoken german outside of a few well choses curses)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Before I get into my usual "this is how you make it better" rant,

    Did you measure the 10mA power draw?
    If so, then you're problem could be mostly solved by feeding a 5V regulated power supply to the normal phone charger plug, supplied by a small solar cell!

    Now, most of the cheap yard lights use ni-cd batteries, and too little voltage for this, but some of the larger, fancier yard lights(still under $5 where i got mine) use LiFePO4 cells, and the solar panels in them can output well over 5V when in full sun.

    And if you don't have FULL sun, to get up to the phones input voltage(my htc phone will actually charge off of anything over 4 volt via micro-usb) , then you could add a buck-boost IC.

    Now, instead of 50 hours or even 250(4 cells in parallel, plus the original phone battery), you could run it indefinitely. Or at least a VERY very long time.
    Since you were making a case for the battery pack and phone anyway, should not be much problem mounting the solar cell, facing into the sun.

    I'm thinking that would be an awesome thing to have mounted in a car.
    Since we could tap into the car battery for electricity,we could take pictures more frequently. or even provide a video feed, when the car is driving(your own little traffic camera, like police cars run all the time. no doubt who hit who then, now is there!)

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    And I forgot...

    You can also GREATLY increase battery runtime through "normal" cell phone power management techniques.

    Turn the brightness of your screen as low as it will go, turn off keyboard backlighting, turn off gps(unless it's a car-cam :-). off with bluetooth, uninstall any apps you don't absolutely need. make sure only the cell radio you need is running(4G? off!!!). speaker volume off. All these things could potentially double your runtime, just on the stock battery.