Casey Smartt's Fly Fishing, Photography, & Outdoor Stuff

Wireless PIR Camera Trigger

The workhorse of the camera trap, this small waterproof box with an articulating mounting arm contains a PIR motion sensor, programmable on-off timer and radio transmitter.

When it senses body heat motion (animal movement) it wirelessly signals the camera to fire. The unit is quite sensitive, and can be positioned near a trail or a spot where animals are likely to pass. The camera & flashes are kept separate, placed nearby to capture the best composition. This sensor unit has no exposed wires because livestock and rodents eat wires. Not an easy thing to build, but worth it when it all comes together.


Opening the NEMA enclosure unit reveals the PIR sensor, battery box, digital timer module, small circuit board and radio transmitter.  The entire unit is handmade by carefully hacking electronics parts and camera accessories.  The enclosure is fitted with a 1″ Ram articulating mount which can be customized to mount to a pipe, stake, tree, board, and nearly anything else.  This unit can be set to operate on any time schedule and will last many months in the field on one set of batteries.


Here is an image captured using the motion sensor.  The motion sensor was mounted to a stake off-camera and aimed to detect animal motion in a precise spot so the subject would be framed correctly and create the desired composition.  If the sensor were placed in the same housing as the camera, it would point the same way the camera pointed and might fire too soon, too late, or too often.


3 Responses to “Wireless PIR Camera Trigger”

  1. Bob Lewis

    Casey , what are the names of your camera and motion sensor etc And where can I get some of that same equipment?
    Are you still fly fishing ? I personally miss your articles in the Texas Saltwater magazine. Thanks Bob Lewis

    • caseysmartt

      Hello Bob.

      The cameras I use are generally Nikon D3200’s or D7000’s. There are basically 3 components- camera, flash, and motion sensor. I buy the camera bodies used from KEH and usually outfit them with the stock 18-55mm kit lens (used also). The flashes (not shown) are old Nikon SB-38’s housed in 4″ PVC tubes with Lexan lens in one end. They have a wireless trigger on the shoe that communicates with the camera. The wireless PIR motion sensor’s I make myself from stuff I buy from Amazon and hack apart/rewire. The PIR motion sensor module is made by Parallax, the timer is a Favolcano, the transmitter is a Pixel, and the enclosure is made by Bud Industries.

      It takes a bit of nerve and a degree of dedication to get into this DSLR “Home-brew” trail camera thing, but I enjoy it.

      I still fly fish, just don’t write much about it. :-). I sure enjoyed my time with TSF mag. It brought me in touch with a lot of good people and good times.

  2. Peter Ensrud

    wow. I am trying to buy or build one of these now. I am really impressed by your images. Great lighting and great compositions!! Totally impressed. Would like to talk with you about the device, and how you programmed it to function.

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