discussion / Camera Traps  / 1 July 2021

App Development Environment for Commercial Trail Cameras

I have recently prototyped a programming environment that allows me to customize the firmware of a commercial trail camera (Browning BTC7A) by adding new functions/features written in C.

For example, in this proof of concept, I developed code that:

  • allows the camera (normally IR illuminated) to use a white LED array, and thus take color night time photos/videos
  • displays the time and date stamp of photos/videos in larger (readable) font on the review screen
  • implements a "stateful" battery monitor that keeps track of energy usage by the camera as a means of estimating the state of charge of newly installed alkaline or lithium batteries
  • bypasses limitations on video length of LED-illuminated videos in the BTC-7A

With some more work, I could see developing this prototype into a fairly general "App" development environment for the BTC-7A -- allowing customization of Trail Camera features without requiring the (much harder) development from scratch of the whole trail camera hardare/firmware/RTOS stack. 

Before I do this work, though, I thought I'd gauge this group for interest, and possible collaborators/co-developers.  

Please let me know what you think about the potential usefulness of trail camera customization.  Also, whether you, or your group would be interested in a Trail Camera App environment, and whether you'd be interested in working on it.


Alasdair Davies
Arribada Initiative
Director at Arribada, a UK-based conservation technology research & development organisation
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Hi @rcz133 

Very interesting work. Yes, there is interest. There is another project I am supporting that uses Browning cameras with the intention of embedded machine learning (external device pulling data from the main camera), but that is more focused on SD multiplexing vs actual code level changes.

The ultimate goal would be code level support with hardware modification as a repo of possible mods.

Could you drop me a DM. May have a little funding down the line to support your efforts too.

Hi Bob,

I am also interested. What is the chip/processor in the BTC7A?


Rob Appleby
@Rob_Appleby  | He/him
Wild Spy
Whilst I love everything about WILDLABS and the conservation tech community I am mostly here for the badges!!
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Great stuff Bob. Tom Southworth comes to mind re: app development. @StephODonnell I couldn't see Tom's user name come up. Could you possibly alert him to this?



Excellent plan. Adding the ability to program when cameras are active, and to adjust detector sensitivity to the models that lack those features (Pro XDs) would be useful in some of my applications.

The only drawback I can see is that apping the firmware would immediatley void any warranty I suspect.