Looking for a custom solution for a Birdhouse camera

I’m looking for a custom solution for a birdhouse camera.
Most cameras I can find are either waaay expensive, or don’t fit a short focusdistance that a birdhouse has.

I’ve been looking into a whole lot of cameras, so i cannot list them all, but this one comes quite close, for a hefty €145

That camera looks a lot like Revotech camera’s.
However, the wifi version is nowhere to be found anymore ( H.265 WIFI 3MP / 1080P Fisheye Mini IP Camera Panoramic Metal Security P2P CCTV Camera System Video with SD Card Slot (Seetong)|Surveillance Cameras| - AliExpress )
And besides that, online, you find a lot of people having issues with these cams calling home.

So I was wondering if this couldnt be built on an esp or the like.

Wished specs:

  • Lens able to focus on a subject between 30 and 40mm distance (i cant seem to find any specs on minimum focus distance, most cheap cams i tried have issues with this)
  • Wide angle, maybe even fisheye
  • switchable Infrared for night / bad light moments
  • Wifi
  • 5v (usb)
  • just a simple standalone RSTP or ONVIF stream output once hooked up to the wifi, with (auto) IR switching
  • Reasonably weatherproof, but will be ‘inside’ the birdhouse, so not in full weatherconditions
  • Able to fit in a small (3dprinted) casing
  • initial configuration options via configfile on sdcard / usbconnection
  • Able to be plug&play after initial configuration

Any help or suggestion on getting the right parts are very welcome

Perhaps an esp32 cam. They are dirt cheap and come with a variety of lenses. Not sure about IR though.

Here is an example of different lens modules https://m.aliexpress.com/item/1005003279204315.html?pid=808_0000_0101

I have been on this frustrating search for quite a long time. And in the end the solution was so simple.
I am now using cheap Wyze Cams v2 in both of my nest boxes and the results are really quite surprising.

The trick is that you can adjust the focal length of many cams of this class. All you have to do is to take the cam apart until you can reach the camera module inside. In most cases the lens of this module is placed within a cap that is screwed onto the module and fixed with a drop of glue or paint. It basically looks very similar to the cam modules in the link of @nickrout above.
If you carefully grab that cap with a pair of pliers and twist it open, the glue will break and you can screw it in and out. Screw it out to reduce the focal length.

With the Wyze Cam this method allows you to get a sharp image down to a few centimeters.
This camera also fulfills all the other requirements in your list. All but one: No fish eye.

Here are some impressions. This is taken at daytime. The only available light is through the entrance hole with less than 3 cm diameter. This rather low light condition definitely reduces the image quality. The infrared images at night are really crisp. Distance to the birds is about 8 cm.


This is how one of my Wyzes looked before I mounted it into the box. As you can see I use the original case but cut it open and add another USB connection to reduce size. I also added an external antenna to improve WIFI connectivity.

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Congrats on finding a good solution.

I know what it’s like when you feel like you’ve Googled and tried everything and then you find the “relatively simple solution” which seems obvious in hindsight…

I found out a lot of cheap IP cameras will fit lenses like this. I was doing time lapses of far away objects…

AU $18.37 | 2.0 Mega Pixel 2.8-12mm Varifocal Lens for IP Camera Free Shipping


Incredible. I was not aware that the lens mounts in these IP cams have a common standard. (At least many of them as it seems.)
I did a quick search and the common ground seems to be a metric 12mm thread (M12).
With keywords like “M12 lens” or “board lens” you will find hundreds of them in all variations, including fisheye.


You could have a crack at bird/egg detection?

This is a cool project:

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So which wyze cam is that?

Is it one of the dafang clones?

Yes, exactly. It is a Wyzecam v2 (AKA Xiaomi Xiaofang, AKA Neos SmartCam).

An interesting project indeed! Processing motion and images in HA is the next logical step.

I do not have a bird detection in place (they don’t move in and out of the box this often :joy:), but I have replaced the original firmware of the Wyze with the Dafang Hacks firmware of Elias Kotlyar. This provides many additional features, including an MQTT client with built-in HA auto discovery. So with this firmware you get a motion sensor in HA the very moment you activate motion detection in the cam. You also get many other HA entities to sense and control all aspects of the cam.

The drawback is that this firmware really pushes the built in RAM to the limits and renders it somewhat instable. I compensate by automatically rebooting the cam once every night. This works well and results in months of continuous up-time.

Wow thank you for your extensive answer; i think this will suit exactly what i need.
Its not that i NEED a fisheye, but the lenses i currently tried were a bit too small angle for the distance i was able to be from the birdhouse.

I was able to overcome a bit of this when turning the cam view to the side instead of topdown; This is my ‘newest’ design where the cam is at about 45degrees angle

I’ll grab a wyzecam and see where that will get me. Mind if i contact you directly when i have further questions?

No, not at all. But if the discussion could help others you might want to continue here.

Ah ok. I assumed the ‘solution’ checkbox would close this thread.

PS; is there a reasoning for getting the V2 instead of the V3? (as in newer firmware harder to tinker with)?

When I built the cams into my boxes the v3 was not yet on the horizon.

From what I read the v3 is not supported by Dafang Hacks (see here).
There is another alternative firmware, but it seems to be way beyond Dafang Hacks and does not offer RTSP support nor MQTT.

I did not dive deep into this, but from a quick review I would say that I would probably still try to find a v2 or one of the identical models (Xiaomi Xiaofang, Neos SmartCam). They seem to be on the retreat though. You might also take a look into the Dafang Hacks repo to see all other models supported by that great firmware.

On the other hand the color night view of the v3 sounds really tempting.
But I guess, this is your R&D job now. Keep us posted if you find new solutions. :wink:


Will do

Ooooh, and have a look at this OpenFang!
This is new to me too. Sounds like kind of a clone of Dafang Hacks.
It has RTSP and MQTT. Not sure though if it has MQTT auto discovery.

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Ordered 3 Xiaomi Xiaofang 1S … seems they are hard to find; probably because of these firmware hacks.
Waiting for them to arrive

In the meantime i discovered that the cheap test V380 cameras indeed have an adjustable focus once you break the glue: Mini Wifi IP Camera HD 1080P Wireless Indoor Camera Nightvision Two Way Audio Motion Detection Baby Monitor V380|Surveillance Cameras| - AliExpress

using an cesh.ini file on the SDcard enables RTSP


This enables the RTSP stream at rtsp://x.x.x.x/live/ch00_1

Unfortunately you have to configure the cam first through the V380 app on your phone using the cam as a local wifi hotspot before you can add it to your own wifi.
Would have been great if that would work through the ini file as well

I was using similar cheap ones to that off Ali Express.

They made me realize the lenses can be swapped.

In the end I found them to be a bit too unreliable. They would drop out and I had some fail.

I moved over to these cabled ones which have been solid. I was keen enough to go with LAN cameras because I could with my layout and cameras seemed to be killing my WiFi.

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I just ordered 2 of the V3s to try. I’ve been pondering this idea for months and this is still the best idea out there for this application. I got two POE livestreams going on feeders and a birdbath but no nest cams.

I’ve got amazing footage with the poe cams in a short period of time where I’m incentived to jump ahead with retrofitting a few of the NINE birdhouses I built last spring (I bought a new chop saw and birdhouses were the only thing I could build).

I’ve had major interest in 3 of the houses in the last few weeks and I know its only a matter of time before there’s nests and I’m going to try to get 2 nest cams installed ASAP to hopefully catch some amazing footage.