Android PhotoTrap quick starter guide

1. Start the application.

If your smartphone runs on Android 6.0 and newer, at first start of the application you should confirm permissions for:

  • camera
  • microphone
  • SMS
  • writing to memory

If you didn't grant permission for some feature corresponding feature will not work.

There are the following buttons on the main screen:

  Photo Mode button.
  In this mode PhotoTrap
  takes pictures and sends them to Email.

Video Mode button.
In this mode PhotoTrap
records video and sends it to Email.

 Stop Mode button.
 Press it to exit from Photo or Video Mode.

Opens folder with recorded
pictures and videos for viewing.

2. Before starting work configure PhotoTrap. Go to menu from the main screen and select "Settings".

On the Settings screen choose whether you will use Motion VideoDetector. When it's chosen set VideoDetector parameters in the window:

Choose whether alarm sound should be fired or not when motion is detected, select VideoDetector working mode: indoor or outdoor.
The main advantage of outdoor mode is that you can select small areas in field of view of smartphone camera for motion detection only there where it's needed. This greatly reduces false alarm probability.
When outdoor mode is selected you choose size of detection areas (coarse or fine grid).
Here is short video explaining how outdoor mode works:

Pay attention Motion VideoDetector drastically increases battery drain as it keeps camera of the smartphone always open, so that PhotoTrap can run only few hours before battery completely exhausted. So, in this mode smartphone should be permanently connected to a charger.

Next, choose whether you use external sensor or not. External sensor doesn't drain battery like Motion VideoDetector, so smartphone can run on the battery up to several weeks without charging. If you are going to use external sensor, check whether your phone can work with it as it's described at the end of the article.
Phototrap can be used without Motion VideoDetector and/or external sensor due to

  • Time lapse feature (PhotoTrap periodically takes and dispatches pictures or videos)
  • Manual requests of photo / video via SMS command. Use Ltl Hunting Camera Console for that.

Continue configuring Phototrap:

Trigger interval is a period of time when Phototrap doesn't react on following sensor triggering after first triggering.  After expiring of the interval Phototrap is ready for new sensor triggering. It's used not to overload system with the same event. It helps to save battery, memory, mobile traffic. Recommended value of interval is 30-60 seconds. Take in to account that most of external sensors have own trigger interval, so resulting trigger interval is the longest among the sensors and Phototrap trigger interval.

Set time lapse interval. Time Lapse acts independently of sensor triggering.

Set parameters of photographing:

Choose photos resolution

Some phones require time to set exposition. If photos the phone takes are too bright or too dark, set Delay >0, e.g. 8-10 frames. For most phones Delay =0.

Enables auto-flash at pictures taking. May not work at some phones.

Before taking a picture a phone opens Preview. Preview has lower resolution, but appears earlier than main picture. Use Preview do not miss fast moving objects.

Enables sending of main Picture to Email. Take into account that main picture has large size (1-2 Mbytes), so it can not be sent via 2G mobile network. Use this feature only if WiFi is available, or 3G /4G network is enough strong,

Set parameters of video recording:

Choose video resolution

Enables auto-flash during video recording, May not work on some phones.

Choose video recording mode: video of fixed duration or video is being recorded while detector triggers (but not longer 60 seconds)

Set video record duration between 1-60 seconds. Valid when Video Mode parameter is set to "Record video of defined length". Optimal value is 5 seconds. Avoid to set length >10 seconds especially when Video resolution is high. Long video recording greatly drains battery, moreover large video-file can not be sent via 2G and 3G mobile network.

Choose a way of video sending: send either whole video-record or just first frame of the video. Sending of whole video may not work in 2G and 3G mobile network also it greatly drains battery and consumes a lot of mobile traffic. Sending of first frame is a preferred way. If nevertheless sending of whole video is required it's recommended to shorten video length as much as possible.

This feature is for Android 6.0 and newer only. Turns on display of the phone for short time at sensor triggering. It's a workaround allowing the phototrap to work normally in sleep mode of the phone. For saving battery set display brightness to minimum and sleep to shortest in phone's settings. First, try phototrap to work without this feature. 

Enables sending of SMS-alerts at triggering and sets phone number

Enables sending of photos and videos on Email and sets Email parameters:

At first row enter Email address where PhotoTrap should send photos/videos,
at second row enter Email address on behalf of whose PhotoTrap sends Email messages,
at third row enter password of Email at second row
at fourth row enter smtp server name of your email provider
port 465 can not be changed

If Android-PhotoTrap is in WiFi zone it's recommended to set connection to WiFi to "By trigger". This lets the PhotoTrap to send images via WiFi instead of mobile network that is more and saves battery and mobile traffic. Choose "Off" if there is no WiFi coverage.

Choose a way of connection to mobile network:

  • All the time. Like usual phone Android-PhotoTrap is always is in mobile network. It's able to receive SMS commands fast, but battery drains quite quickly. In this mode it's recommended to use phones with high capacity battery (>3000 mAh) or connect an external power supply: charger, solar panel, power bank.
  • By trigger. Optimal mode. In this mode PhotoTrap connects to mobile network only at sensor triggering and disconnects after sending SMS and images. This solution greatly saves battery that allows PhotoTrap to run several weeks without charging (in idle mode). At the moment of connection to mobile network PhotoTrap receives pending SMS commands and executes them. For the moment, this mode is available only for phones with Android of versions 4.x.
  • Off. PhotoTrap is always disconnected from mobile network. Sending of images is possible only via WiFi if it's available. No SMS sending and SMS-commands receiving. Main advantage of this mode is minimized battery drain thus longest run time.

It's the last setting item, press Back to return.

3. Starting PhotoTrap in working mode.

Start PhotoTrap in dezired working mode by pressing appropriate button.
In Photo mode PhotoTrap opens its camera, takes Preview and Picture, saves them on SD card if it present or to internal memory, if SD card is absent, and sends SMS, Preview and Picture according to settings. PhotoTrap continues taking photos during e-mail sending, if Interval parameter allows. 
In Video mode PhotoTrap opens its camera, starts video recording, sends SMS and when recording finishes, sends video or first frame of the video to Email.
PhotoTrap saves start time (with milliseconds accuracy) of each action to log-file called LOG.txt which is located in the same folder as photos and videos. Example of log-file content:
Sensor triggered_data_time:
Video started_data_time:
Start sending Email_data_time:
Email sent_data_time:
This information can be used for PhotoTrap work controlling.

Recommendations for Android-PhotoTrap usage:

  • orient Android-PhotoTrao horizontally. It's normal orientation for video, also it allows to expand horizontal field of view
  • use detachable lenses to expand filed of view
  • use LtlAcorn SUN solar panel for charging the phone is the field
  • use InfraRed Flash Extender for night filming

How to check if your smartphone can work with external sensor

Set PhotoTrap in Stop Mode, plug-in standard headset and you should see the following pop-up Toast message when plugging-in:

Next, shortly press headset button. Shortly means you press and immediately release the button. You should see the same pop-up Toast message when pressing.
If you press the button longer (>2 seconds) Google Voice Search can start on your phone that prevents normal work of PhotoTrap. If you don't have poping-up Google Voice Search you are lucky and you can use any external sensor which closes its output at triggering. If Google Voice Search pops-up, try to get rid of it by disabling it in phone's settings. If you can't disable it you should use a sensor with "short pulse" output like ours PIR Motion Sensor. Or you can try USB-headset which you connect to charging port. If PhotoTrap responds to USB-headset button pressing with mentioned above Toast message then you can connect any external sensor to charging port via our cable.

Next, you can check whether your phone running on battery, without charger connected, awakes when external sensor triggers. For this:

  • start Photo or Video mode by pressing the appropriate button. Motion VideoDetector should be switched off.
  • leave the phone alone for at least 20-30 minutes, do not touch it this time
  • then shortly press headset button, imitating sensor triggering
  • check by pressing yellow folder button whether the phone took images

If you founded new images (1 new file in Video mode or 2 new files in Photo mode) your phone can work with external sensor. Not all phones awake at pressing headset button. Such phones can work with external sensor only with charger connected.

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