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Secret Surveillance Garden Birdhouse – Notes and Plans from my Build

This Friday I’m doing a workshop for Craftsman in Chicago, for their first annual blogger summit. The different presenters each introduced themselves by building a birdhouse project that represents them.

I started the project by drawing a set of blueprints, knowing that I wanted something with multiple compartments and a remote-access rear hatch. I adjusted things on paper a few times, and then built a small model of the birdhouse to make sure the pieces would work together, and the hinge apparatus would function correctly. Glad I did this first because there were a couple key modifications from it.

Once the model was built, the actual birdhouse came together fairly easily, with just a few small changes. I really like the way the tiny bird apartment conceals the high-tech inner workings.

I painted the exterior green and stained the roof red. I’ve been wanting to use the dead, dried tree from my yard for a project (or as fuel in my pizza oven) so did some resawing, cutting it into rough 1/2″ planks. The addition added a fantastic rustic charm that would make this birdhouse look great in any garden.

On the inside, I used an RC servo to control the rear door, with a second servo that pans the webcam side-to-side. A high-gain wifi antenna allows the setup to be placed a distance away from the house but still have access to internet signals, in case you want to stream the video feed, or just check up on facebook while gardening.

There are a number of tweaks I’d still like to do, including transitioning the entire thing to Arduino, but for now, I’m very happy with how the birdhouse came out.

Check it and the others out on Craftsman’s Facebook page.

The funny part is that the birdhouse is really just a tiny “apartment” in the front corner of this piece, kept separate and secure from the electronics inside.

I was originally going to put a helicopter on the inside, but soon ran out of space.
The cardboard model – even mitred the roof top.

Pieces of the dead tree from my yard. They were sawn into 1/2″ planks.