Long Term Time Lapse Enclosure

Introduction: Long Term Time Lapse Enclosure

I have an opportunity to capture a construction project over about 8 months using time lapse photography. I have an old Canon G11 camera that I can use to capture the time lapse sequence. This prototype enclosure will be securely mounted on a pole at the job site and take pictures every 30 minutes or so over the course of 8-10 months. I also have a couple of options on how to get the camera to trigger, but we'll cover that later. Here is the initial design.

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Step 1: Building the Enclosure

Using a 1150 Pelican case to keep the camera dry and secure, there is plenty of space inside for the AC adapter and intervelometer. I cut a hole in the front of the case and used a step up adapter ring to mount to the front of the case to hold a UV filter and protect the camera and inside of the case. The camera is mounted on an arca swiss plate that is attached to an "L" bracket from Actobotics. This internal mount allows the camera to be positioned such that the lens extracts almost flush to the UV filter glass. The lens hood simply gives the UV glass a little protection from the elements. I will bring a lens cloth with me each time I go to get pictures off the camera, and wipe down anything on the glass. The plan is to physically mount the case to the job site telephone pole using a vertical pole mount, which is secured to the pelican case with lag bolts. The bracket is secured tot he pole using either zip ties, or aluminum racket straps with a screw driver. This will make it semi-permanent, and locks will be added to the box along with security cable to deter theft. I've seen other projects that use car batteries or a power inverter, but I will have power on the pole so I don't have to worry about it.

Parts Used:

Camera Gear:


I already have an AC adapter for the Canon G11, and they are going to install a power outlet onto the pole this case will be mounted to. I drilled a 1/2" hole in the bottom to feed the power cable through to the AC adapter, and used a grommet to finish it off. The Vertical Pole mount will allow me to secure the enclosure to a telephone pole at the job site, and the locks and cable will make it difficult for someone to simply walk off with the case. It will at least deter anyone without a lock cutter.

I'll update this post as I move forward on the build and mounting it to the job site.

Step 2: Triggering the Shutter Options

SDM, CHDK, Eye-Fi, or Physical remote???

I have to decide how I'll trigger the camera using either SDM/CHDK and a time lapse script, or a physical intervelometer. Here are the pros and cons of each:

Using a custom script with CHDK or SDM will allow me to set the timeing for triggering the shutter to anything I want, and get it to only take pictures during daylight hours. There are some limitations with CHDK and the size of the Memory cards and having to create partitions on the card. Using this method means that I cannot use the 16GB Eyefi mobi card that I have for wireless access to the pictures. This means that I will need to remove the memory card from the camera to retrieve the images.

Using a physical shutter release means that I'll have to purchase one off Amazon, and that the images will be taken 24 hours a day. After pulling the pictures off the memory card, I'll need to delete the night shots manually. However, I can then use an EyeFi wireless SD card and be able to get the images off the camera without having to open the box and take the memory card out. I'm leaning towards this option.

This will be an ongoing blog post as the construction project gets moving forward! I will update this project as I go, and publish the final results at the end of the project.

Step 3: Construction Site Testing

The construction company mounted a PVC pipe to the side of their work trailer to mount the camera at the construction site today. It has power, and everything started properly. It was super muddy, and the ladder they had was sketchy, so I'll go back next week after it dries out and verify that everything is working properly. I used RainX on the UV glass to help keep the lens clear, and SIlicon gell packets on the inside of the case to help keep it dry. I started the intevelometer and was able to get one image off the camera through the wireless connection.

Step 4: Initial Time Lapse After 1 Week

The camera was able to make it an entire week of capturing photos every 20 minutes. I removed the night shots, and used Adobe After Effects to create a 8 second time lapse. This should give everyone an idea of what to expect over the next few months.

Step 5: Final Timelapse

Here is the final result after taking out all the night shots. There are a couple of spots where the camera lost power, so some frames are lost. Happy with the results

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    7 Discussions


    8 months ago

    Hmm. There are no holes at the bottom of the andoer bracket to screw into.


    Reply 8 months ago

    Sorry for the delay. I would use a 1/4"-20 Screw plate into the bracket, which allows the arca swiss plate to be mounted to that. I need to go look in the enclosure to be sure. I think in the first version of this, it was a simple flanged bearing to go from the .5" hole down to 1/4" to put the screw through. So you have a couple of options.



    Question 8 months ago

    How did you mount the Swiss plate to the 90 degree bracket?


    Good stuff. On your parts list you have a bearing. What did you use that for?


    Reply 9 months ago

    I think that the "L" bracket has a .5" hole, and using that bearing was a simple solution to get the hold down to 1/4" with the parts I had. Definitely could have used a 1/4"-20 Screw plate instead. It's not used as a bearing, just opening reduction.


    2 years ago

    We are looking to do this for a customer now as well on a 6 month project. How did this turn out for you in the end?


    Reply 2 years ago

    It actually turned out very well. I chose to check on the camera more than I probably needed to. As long as it didn't lose power, it was solid through the months of time lapse. Good Luck!