For a while now I've had my game camera pointed at the birdhouse I set up to attract screech owls. In that time I have observed exactly zero owls.
I have, though, observed squirrels doing their daily rounds.
Whatever kind of bird this is.
Neighbourhood cats prowling around.
Some kind of chupacabra eating my garbage.
Some other neighbourhood cat eating a mouse.
The same cat not giving a fuck that it's broad daylight.
Possums being adorable garbage sharks.
Raccoons making booty calls.
Bobcats... Huh, didn't know they came all the way into the suburbs.
And of course rats lining up to leap onto my chimney and climb up onto my roof.
At least now I know how they were getting up there.
Hmm, yup, that's definitely a bobcat.
Anyway, in order to keep this camera going I need to actually charge the batteries every 6 to 9 months or so, otherwise the night shots start to look a bit underwhelming.
So in order to ease the load on the batteries, I thought to myself "you know, the perfect thing for this would be if I could somehow get a small solar panel, hook it up to a little lithium polymer pouch cell, and then wire that in as a supplemental supply to keep the camera going rather than relying on the NiMH AA cells all the time". As luck would have it, you can buy something exactly like that right off the shelf.
I might later look into putting together some sort of supplementary IR illumination. There's an IR flash on the camera itself, but because a lot of the IR reflects off the chimney and birdhouse, the stuff on the fence kinda gets lost in the darkness. I did a quick search and apparently someone used to manufacture a battery-powered IR illuminator, but it has since been discontinued.
I could probably get a wall-wart powered illuminator and hook it up to a second solar panel like I got, and then build a little IR detector that would only power it on for a brief moment as essentially a slave flash for the main camera.
But that's a project for another day.