I have been playing with Moondyne Ghost Eye series 3GExtreme MMS and the Tracker models, supplied Moondyne. When I unpacked the cameras the necessary 16GB SD cards plus packs of brand new batteries were also included, a nice touch from Moondyne.
I had a close look at them and ran through the instructions for use; all pretty straightforward. For the initial testwork, I did not bother with the MMS and email capability of the 3GExtreme model. I just set them both up for digital photography, leaving the video for later as well.
Both models have 12 Mp imaging and 1080p HD video. The (Black Flash) infrared LEDs give 20 metres of night vision flash. The 52o field of view has variable sensitivity and can detect up to 25 metres. The units are waterproof to IP 54 standard which is good because they will be exposed to the rain of the wet northern tropics.
Using Moondyne Ghost Eye trail cameras at home
We live in a rural area and, being surrounded by farms, heavy forest, grasslands and wetlands, we see plenty of wildlife. Deer, pigs and wild dogs are spotted fairly regularly and there is a wealth of native wildlife and birds to be appreciated too. I do not have to go any further than my garden to test the trail cameras on a passing parade of wildlife. I always test new trail cameras for a week or so in the garden before taking them further afield, once I am happy with them.
My wife had noted that something was eating the sprouting vegetables she had planted. On closer investigation, the fallow end of the veggie garden had some diggings that looked to be the work of a rabbit. We are not short of bandicoots but they have a different style of earthworks. I placed the cameras at either end bean trellis and left them to do their thing for the best part of a week.
It is always a buzz loading trail camera images onto the computer. You just never know what you are going to get. I was not disappointed either. There were hundreds of images. About half of those showed my wife and I working the garden, but the other half featured a good selection of the local wildlife. It should be noted that I could have avoided the photos of us working in the garden as the cameras can be programmed to only detect in set time periods. In a security situation that might be from 6PM until 7AM, for example.
The majority of the photos showed a rabbit alright, in the wee hours after midnight mostly. There were also bandicoots, curlews, plovers and quite a variety of other birds that visit the garden during the day. The most exciting image, just on the edge of the frame at 4AM in the morning, was a big black wild dog that is typical of this area. I have seen this fellow at our place a couple of times in the last twelve months and the trail camera indicated he is probably a much more regular visitor than I appreciated.
Using Moondyne Ghost Eye trail cameras in the bush
The next assignment for the Moondyne trail cameras was on a close-by farm where wild dogs had been killing calves and pet dogs. I spent a couple of hours having a good look at the farm and its neighbouring environs. There was a creek running through the place which was most likely a conduit for the wild dogs. There was plenty of dog sign too. That was no surprise as the owner had told me that the dog packs he had been sighting varied from seven to more than twenty!
The neighbouring farms were under cane and that added to the shelter that the dogs could take advantage of. Sugar cane is a fairly new crop in this area and previously the lower growth of crops like potatoes and beans had not given the dogs any shelter. So, with high hopes, I placed the cameras over some likely looking spots and got some fuzzy images at the limit of the camera’s range during the night. Better pictures would have been nice, but the camera showed me, in all the details I needed, what sort of dogs, how many and when they had passed through.
I know a number of young fellows who hunt boars with dogs in and around the cane and other crops. In the last couple of years, they have really increased their success rate on big, wily old boars by using trail cameras with MMS capability. Typically, they have their utes loaded with the dogs on going to bed. In the early hours, the bedside mobile phone chirps as a photo is sent through from one of the field cameras. The boys scramble and often with fifteen minutes they have bagged a 100+ kilo boar that has eluded them for years. Obviously, other than hunting, this is a great feature for a security situation as well.
Moondyne Ghost Eye trail cameras Technical Details and Pricing
It is that sort of capability that will create great appeal for the Moondyne Ghost Eye 3GExtreme MMS trail camera. Moondyne recommend using the Telstra NextG 3G network which has the best coverage in country areas (something I can vouch for) and it will work anywhere where a Telstra mobile gets coverage. A Telstra SIM card is required and the best approach to that is a $30 Prepaid Plus Package, the same as you would use in a mobile phone. With that card, the MMS messages come through at no charge. You may well need to stress this to the Telstra shop you deal with as the staff typically have no experience with trail cameras and may well recommend a card that will not work as well.
Moondyne also say that they have found that the SIM cards from Aldi Mobile are a cheaper alternative (they have a $15 a month one) and run on the same frequency as the NextG Telstra network. So far in Moondyne’s experience, the Aldi cards have worked on Ghost Eye trail cameras everywhere that the Telstra ones did, but there may be exceptions to that.
There is a free APP available for download that allows for remote setting changes. When searching for it, it is one-word “trailcamera” and can be had for both IOS and Android smartphones. That way you can, if need be, do some remote reprogramming of the camera in situ, without having to approach it in person. That could be very useful in most monitoring situations.
The instruction booklet is simple and well laid out. Likewise the camera controls, which are just a few buttons. The menu system is basic and uncomplicated. For those with a dose of technophobia, or just in a hurry, the cameras can be set up and activated without having to be an IT whizz. Most of the necessary settings are by default ready to use. However, I would recommend giving it a run at home so you can be sure of the settings, and results before you head off into the remote wilderness to deploy it in the field. If that thylacine, sambar, or whatever, comes mooching past right in front of the camera you want to be sure of capturing the moment. The retail price of the Tracker model, as of Q3 2017, was $299 and the more advanced 3GExtreme is $499. More information can be had by contacting or visiting the website of Moondyne.
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