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Birding with CHDK

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(Page under construction) This page describes how you can use CHDK to capture fotos and videos of birds.

Pose Your Birds

Bird feeders are a great way to attract birds to your camera.

  1. Build a feeder that forces the bird to perch at a set distance from the camera.
  2. Site the feeder in sunlight but watch for the camera casting a shadow.
  3. Leave the feeder out for a while without the camera so they get used to it.
  4. Use a bird cutout on a clothes peg to frame your shot.

Here is a very simple feeder made from coat hanger wire and an old bottle top.

Feeder

Coat hanger feeder

Lazy CHDK Birding

This is a very easy way to get great bird fotos from your CHDK camera.

  1. Set up your feeder as above with your camera near it on a tripod.
  2. Turn on Mute in your Canon menu to prevent scaring the birds.
  3. Lock the subject distance using CHDK menu>Enhanced Photo Operations>Override Subject Distance.
  4. Load script "interval.lua" and set interval to 1 second.
  5. Start script running.

CHDK will start taking fotos which you can sort thru to find any goodies like these.


DaveCam Script

DaveCam continuously records video clips of bird visits to your feeder station. It deletes any clips without visits as it goes along. It also produces an AviSynth file which trims the remaining videos and combines them into a single clip. This clip can be played in media players or edited in VirtualDub.

The script parameters are

Subject distance (cm) - the camera focus is locked at this distance.
Video FPS - the frame rate of your video.
Trigger threshold - change in scene brightnessthat will trigger the start of an event.
Release threshold - the event will be judged to have ended when the scene brightness returns to within this value.
Grid options - standard motion detection grid options.
Detection lag 1/10s - time taken for camera to recognise an event (my A810 value is 14).
Interval between events (s) - time to wait for a subsequent event before closing the clip. Allows for several closely spaced events on each clip.
Longest event (s) - maximum event duration. Used to prevent false events keeping clip open.
Frames before event - adds frames to AviSynth file before event occurs. This lets you see the bird landing.
Frames after event - similar to above.
Clip length (s) - clip will be deleted if no events occur during this time.

You will need to install AviSynth on your PC to view the combined clip. You will also need to install the QTSource plugin.

DaveCam was written for an A810 which records Quicktime (.mov) videos and has a dedicated video button.

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