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Solar Powered Security Systems to Monitor Wildlife
Research Experiences for Teachers
on Sensor Networks
1IORTHTS EXAS Raechelle Jones, Duncanville ISD* Chelsea Meyer Lewisville ISD* and Lori Wolf Denton ISD
NORTH EXAS Faculty Advisor: Dr. Miguel Acevedo research Assistant: Jennifer Williams
Electrical Engineering Abstract
The University of North Texas Research Experiences for Teachers (RET)
on sensor networks is working closely with the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department to design a wildlife monitoring system. The monitoring
system will be deployed at sample artificial burrow sites at Franklin
Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas. The monitoring cameras will
help to understand the burrowing owls behavior during breeding
season, what prey is being caught, which adult owl is doing the hunting
and to observe the chick behavior from hatchling to fledgling.
Athene Cunicalaria Burrowing owl
Off Grid System
The video monitoring system is for the collection of visual data of
burrowing owl roosting behavior in the West Texas region. The need
for this project stemmed from the declining population of burrowing
owls in the region and a similar project filming little owls in the
The system is taken off grid using solar energy to be able to deploy
the monitoring system in the remote location in the
Franklin Mountain State Park. Taking it off-grid will also reduce the
system's power consumption footprint. The wakeup system will allow
less interaction with the system in the wild. Taking the system off-
grid is the biggest challenge of the project due to the fact that the
system pulls large amounts of power and it will require large solar
panels and a large battery bank which would affect cost and space
issues. The system is similar to the motion triggered light switches
installed in buildings to help conserve energy.
We introduce the concept of wildlife video monitoring in remote areas using a security system, Arduino, PIR motion
sensor and solar panels with a battery bank. The system will help increase the understanding of wildlife behavioral
patterns as well as facilitate conservation efforts, especially for endangered species .
* Phase one of the project places the system outdoors, running on power from the grid to
test the equipment's survival in the elements.
* In phase two we move the system off the power grid, to ensure the equipment can be
sustained by solar panels and again test the equipment's durability outdoors.
* Phase three involves power conservation by adding a relay on an Arduino UNO
microcontroller to turn on the camera's power when motion is sensed and off when
motion stops. The relay board has a power hub for the charge controller, DVR, and
Arduino UNO that are constantly consuming power. The camera power hub is switched
on to supply power whenever the PIR sensor sends a signal to the Arduino, that then
sends an excitation signal to the relay that turns on the cameras.
As previously calculated before the max power consumption was estimated at
1152Whrs per day with the system pulling four amperes, but it was determined in the
lab that the system only uses 1.36 amperes. Therefore the power usage will be
391.68Whrs per day. When adding the relay and motion sensing to the system, the
power usage is theoretically decreased to 263.o4Whrs per day, because the cameras
will be turn on an estimated eight hours a day due to motion instead of being on 24
hours a dayfeeding the DVR.
To run a 12 volt system at 4A for 24 hours, it would take l92Ahrs battery capacity.
After finding out that system does not pull the full 4A the amount of Ahrs needed
drops to 43.84Ahrs. The solar panel output originally needed based on the two
previous results at 4A was 144Ahrs per day, now it has dropped down to 32.88Ahrs
per day at 1.36A.
Screen shot of mouse 2
Check us out!
Since the power consumption has been calculated much lower than originally
thought, it is possible to decrease the number of solar panels used to one instead of
three, and one battery instead of two or the system that is deployed can run three
home security systems therefore monitoring more burrows.
*o" - P RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) Site on Sensor Networks, Electrical Engineering Department, and
: ' Institute of Applied Sciences, UNT Denton, Texas. This material is based upon work supported by the National
z m Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 1132585 and the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Outreach
Fund. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the
author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or the IEEE.
Wildlife monitoring allows for observations of the burrowing
owls pattern of survival and activity in the artificial burrow. This
will help the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department keep them
off the endangered species list and hopefully increase their
population. The implementation of a monitoring system into
their habitat will give a way to collect long term data, provide
new insight into factors limiting species distribution and then
more solutions can be created to help in their studies and in
Some challenges are
* Keeping the sand and bugs out ofthe box 4 .
* Vandalism and/ortheft of the system
* Shade to keep instrument box cool
" Batterylife in heat
* DVR in heat: will the heat activate the auto shut off?
* Heat emitted from the batteries, DVR, and the desert. How to
Video monitoring is an important means of studying wildlife. By
taking the system off grid and reducing power consumption, it
can be placed in remote locations where wildlife is more active
and in their native habitat. The monitoring system can observe
the pattern of survival and activity in the artificial burrows, which
will increase the species population and long term survival of the
species. Collecting long term data helps to provide new insight
into factors limiting species distribution and helps create
solutions to help in species conservation. This project brings new
insights to power consumption by electrical equipment and helps
reduce the overall cost of a video monitoring system used by
persons attempting to monitor species in the future.
- ' '
-~1~~ 5 3, ~
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Jones, Raechelle; Meyer, Chelsea; Wolf, Lori; Acevedo, Miguel F. & Williams, Jennifer. Solar Powered Security Systems to Monitor Wildlife, poster, 2013; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc181672/m1/1/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Engineering.