Awesome Cat Cam

Posted on June 3, 2007  Comments (23)

CatCam - photo of the famous cat photographer CatCam - cat photographer on the run CatCam - cat photographer get picture of another cat

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CatCam by Juergen Perthold – this great project involved taking a digital camera and some additional equipment to create a camera that his cat wore around his neck which took pictures every 3 minutes. The pictures are great. The cat got photos of several other cats and seemed to like cars.

See more cool gadgets, See our other popular posts and our cat related posts.

Sometimes I have some challenging ideas, or crazy like some other people would say. This time I thought about our cat who is the whole day out, returning sometimes hungry sometimes not, sometimes with traces of fights, sometimes he stay also the night out. When he finally returns, I wonder where he was and what he did during his day. This brought me to the idea to equip the cat with a camera. The plan was to put a little camera around his neck which takes every few minutes a picture. After he is returning, the camera would show his day.

The VistaQuest made it very easy for me, because it is able to supply my circuit also if switched off. This is because of an internal DC/DC converter which boosts the voltage from the 1.5V battery to 3.3V. The DC/DC converter is always working because of the internal SRAM which holds the pictures. I just had to hook the microcontroller to the internal camera supply.

Well, I thought the hardest part is done by developing the software and soldering the controller board. But it is more the housing to protect the camera. You can not imagine what kind of requirements have to be fulfilled if you want to equip your cat with a camera. I built a small housing out of plastic plates and put it on the collar of the cat for evaluation purpose. This housing was last seen as the cat walked out of the door… Probably the wires I used for attaching were not strong enough. Or someone released the cat from the interesting looking piece.

For the second try I used the plastic package of a child toy (Kinderueberraschung), put a stone in it for loading it with some weight and attached it again to the cat collar. This time the part returned – dirty and scratched outside, water inside. What the hell is the cat doing !? This raised the requirements for the camera protective housing a lot

Big moment no. 1: attach the collar with the camera to the cat. The reaction was not very happy but finally accepted. Reality check passed :-)

This is my favorite home engineering project. The concept is great. The explanation of the technology is great. The adjustment to real life situations is great. The end result (the photos) is great. This wins the non-existent Curious Cat Cool Contraption award. If someone doesn’t start selling prefabricated cat cameras I will be very surprised (if I was more enterprising I would do it myself). Maybe J. Perthold will, in any event he should inspire many to try making their own.

Related: The Cat and a Black BearAutomatic Cat FeederThe sub-$1,000 UAV Project

Update: site moved to a new host (after exceeding bandwidth limitation) and “CatCam fan pages and CatCam orders soon. I will also move the remaining parts of my WebWorld here.”
Update 2: order yours now.
Update 3: The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer based on an interview of Juergen Perthold by John Hunter:

CatCam - cat photographer snaps a photo of a snake CatCam - cat photographer takes an artistic shot CatCam - cat photographer photo of another cat

23 Responses to “Awesome Cat Cam”

  1. Markk
    June 4th, 2007 @ 6:27 am

    Those are some very interesting pics. Cool project. I wonder if anyone has done the same thing with a dog?

  2. coturnix
    June 5th, 2007 @ 12:37 am

    Very cool!!!

  3. Jo
    June 5th, 2007 @ 11:10 am

    I wish my cat had one!

    My third attempt now! I am no good at maths!

  4. Juergen
    June 5th, 2007 @ 7:29 pm

    Thank you! The new site is: Mr. Lee CatCam

  5. eContent
    June 5th, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

    CatCam – Innovation from outside the box!…

    This is cool! Ever wonder what would happen if you put a small camera on a cat and followed him through a day in the woods? Take a trip to the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog to read and view more about this project!…

  6. My Opinions Are Important: Cat Cam: Spy on people using your cat
    June 6th, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

    Among the things we learn from this is that cats like to meet underneath cars…
    hat tip: Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog, which is not normally about cats.

  7. CuriousCat: Order Your CatCam
    June 10th, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

    [...] You can now order your CatCam (or components to help put together your own) from Juergen Perthold the creator of the wonderful CatCam [...]

  8. CuriousCat: Building an Electricity Producing Wind Turbine
    June 20th, 2007 @ 8:46 am

    “My ultimate goal is to have enough power from wind and solar sources to power a small cabin and observatory on my remote property that will only be occupied occasionally and won’t have much need for electricity…”

  9. Mr. Lee's CatCam » Pretty Paws
    June 22nd, 2007 @ 1:23 am

    [...] Lee’s CatCam I just discovered CatCam, by reading about it over on Curious Cat, a Science and Engineering Blog, and it has made me very happy. If you are a cat nut, you need to check this out for yourself, over [...]

  10. Mary
    August 28th, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

    My cat keeps disappearing for 3 – 4 weeks at a time. I wish she had a catcam on her.

  11. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer
    September 14th, 2007 @ 1:27 pm

    [...] engineering story. See our past post for some background on how an engineer allowed you to help your cat become a photographer. On the development of the CatCam Jürgen Perthold says, “More or less it was just a joke, [...]

  12. My reader’s best posts | Infektia.net
    September 19th, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

    [...] Make Your Cat into a Photographer by John Hunter This is quite a fun post! And it’s a very interesting project! Have you ever wondered what your cat does when you’re not around? Here is how you find out! [...]

  13. lonnie
    February 13th, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

    This is so cool!!! I think this was an awesome idea!

  14. Curious Cat » Photos by Fritz the Cat
    March 18th, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

    “I went for a long walk with the camera. Perhaps a bit too long, because she was looking for me everywhere. Anyway, she was very pleased when I came home with the camera and a mouse.”

  15. Akhmad Guntar
    March 20th, 2008 @ 2:38 am

    That’s a creative way of having fun with cats! :-)

  16. CatCam: follow your kitty everywhere | Trendoriginal
    April 13th, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

    A cat owner wanted to find out what his cat was doing all day. Why it was coming home hungry or full, or with traces of fights…

  17. choudhary
    April 20th, 2008 @ 7:15 am

    a very nice way to know where our cat is leading its way!! amazing and great technology!! Really liked it!

  18. Anonymous
    September 16th, 2008 @ 10:11 am

    I think the picture was really cute and then I suddenly realized that this is not one of those cat pics. Well the cat’s cute but there was a technical twist and that was there was a camera to it!

    I am not sure how the cat takes it, cant it just paw it and remove it?

  19. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Very Cool Wearable Computing Gadget from MIT
    March 11th, 2009 @ 8:27 am

    The prototype of the system cost only $350. The software, created by them, obviously is the key, but how amazing is that, $350 for the hardware used in the prototype!…

  20. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Sumatran Tiger and Cubs Filmed by Remote Wildlife Monitoring Cameras
    January 8th, 2010 @ 8:13 am

    [...] Wouldn’t it be nice to see the photos those tigers could take with the awesome cat cam? [...]

  21. Mark Bridgeman
    November 15th, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

    This is a superb article, I would love to know what my cats get up to, perhaps with time a gps tracker can be fitted so that owners can see (on an electronic map) exactly where their cat goes. Good work. Well done!

  22. Amazing New Light Field Camera: Adjust Focus After You Take the Picture » Curious Cat Engineering Blog
    October 21st, 2011 @ 1:44 am

    The cool Lytro light field camera lets you adjust the focus after the picture is taken…

  23. Domestic Cats Remain Successful Predators » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    August 7th, 2012 @ 11:09 am

    [...] data. As I wrote about before you can get your very own cat cam and see what your cat is up to. I posted an interview I did with the engineer that designs and [...]

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