Friday, October 6, 2017
2011 WGI IR108X Camera Review - August 29, 2011
2011 WGI IR10X (pulse 10x) 10 MP 91 count IR red flash digital (WiFi capable) camera review
We went through a big hassle trying to obtain this camera and module. After the third attempt I finally found it at Cheaper than Dirt and the cost with module was about $200. The camera finally arrived and my first thought was damn this is a monster. A big square box that measures about 6 inches by 8 inches and sticks out off the tree about 4 inches. There is a three inch square array with a lens in the center. Hanging on the tree the array is very visible in the day light at a good distance. Should you choose to use this camera with the module then the height would grow by another 3 inches.
The camera is powered by a supplied 6 volt SLA battery and when installed you have a degree of weight to hang on the tree. This becomes a problem for the little bungee cords that came with it. There are no strap slots so you have to maybe upgrade to a little heavier bungee to safely hang this camera.
The camera has a kind of a wedge shape to it and the lens/array is top center and the three sensors for PIR function are below that. The two function indicators are across the bottom front. The external 12 volt and tri-pod insert are on the bottom. The right side of the camera has a large paddle latch assembly that is hard to access once hung on the tree because it reaches all the way to the back edge of the side. At the top of the camera are the standoffs to support the module along with a plug to be removed when the module is installed. There is a pocket inside to lock this plug into so it does not get lost. Inside the camera is the SD card slot and viewer on the left and the control buttons and battery compartment on the right.
Hinge and latch assemblies seem to be fairly heavy and the door has a complete seal. The leak test went well but there is a design problem with the case. When wet the top slope of the camera makes water hang at the junction of the door and unless you dry everything off real good the moisture will go strait down onto the switches when the door is opened. I decided that it probably would not be a good idea to do a drop test with this camera due to the weight of the SLA battery and the thin plastic.
This is another camera that cannot just be set up for testing, it must be hung because of there is no flat surface on the bottom and it will not free stand without being supported. This makes a lot of my normally fast and easy tests harder to do.
I unpacked the WiFi module and wanted to just see how it connected but that was a big letdown. There is a big Fieldnet on the front of the module but as near as I can tell that is actually the back of the module. This leaves the serial number sticker out facing the front. This just does not make sense. The tiny plug is such that you cannot determine the correct polarity, except it does not want to seem to plug in with the name facing the front. Next comes another bit of a surprise. There is a remote handset for this setup and it requires a battery that is not supplied. I figure there is a good reason for it not being supplied, because it is not readily available through normal sources. Two hours of burning gas and I determined that it is not available unless I order on line somewhere. So as of now I will say that the module and the WiFi setup will not get tested. I also found that there is no supplied software with the module and requires a on line visit to down load from somewhere prior to being able to test to see if what we just purchased works. All the software in the world will not help the lack of battery to make it all function so that will not be tested. I did find a note where it says to install the module backwards on certain cameras???? There seems to be no mention about the remote in the supplied documentation.
What we now have is a 10 MP camera to test and put through its paces once I get the required charge on the battery.
The selectable resolutions are 10, 8, and 5 MP and the video is the standard 640X480 and 320X240. Down range lighting is supplied by a massive 91 count array that is rated out to 90 feet. The PIR uses the side sensors (three setup) like the little Acorn camera and they call it Quickdraw. It is suppose to sense out to 60 feet which is still 30 feet inside the flash range. The card size is limited to 16 gig and says SDHC so there should not be any class limitations. This is a very basic camera with not a lot of frills except for having a top resolution of 10 MP. I would think we will do most of our testing on the 5 MP setting. The sample pictures will be done in all three resolutions. Here is the really good news, provided it tests out as advertized. This is the delay down to 15 seconds which is good but not great. These delay settings are also available 30s, 1m, 2m, 5m, and 10m.
Without the module mess to deal with this review just became a lot easier. The power of advertizing sure makes people do some strange things and I certainly fell for it on this one. Off to some camera testing.
Programming and setup was easy and strait forward. Initial trigger tests were not determined because I could not repeat a trigger over and over for some reason. There may be some tactic I have to figure out about this version of tri sensor technology. Dark room pictures were OK but not great. Outside pictures were pretty fuzzy. I was using the middle setting which is 8 MP for those tests. Color was good but without the definition it was still somewhat lacking. I came back into the lab thinking I may have a shipping smudge on the lens but it was clear and shiny. The informal delay tests showed it from 15 to 25 seconds but that could be because of the flakey triggering. I reset the sensing to high and am going to see if that makes any difference. I have had a lot of trouble with the SD card slot being very tight and not wanting to allow the card to slip in the slot. After the sensitivity adjustment the trigger testing seemed to have a more repeatable aspect. As near as I can tell the trigger time is near a second and that is if you cross the front. Coming strait in, it appears to be longer but more testing is needed to affirm that fact. The delay is over 15 seconds by as much as 10 seconds and that also seemed to be random because I did have several 18 second intervals. Anyway these are just the initial tests and a more formal test will be done later as we get deeper into this camera.
I went ahead and spent about another hour trying to figure out if I could adapt the remote to maybe another battery but this ill designed piece of stuff does not even have the polarity posted for battery installation, should you be fortunate enough to be able to locate one. Well anyway we will be able to test the camera itself. This is pretty disappointing to find this out this far into the process. It should have been shipped with a compatible battery or they should have chosen a more standard cell for power.
Another hour trying to digest everything about this setup on their web site and the picture of the 10X camera with the module installed shows it installed with the writing to the front and the booklet says to reverse and put the writing to the back. There is just no mention of the remote other than saying it is used to turn the module on and off.
09-01-11 update: It looks like that many who want to use this device should be aware that when ever they place the order for the camera and module that they also place an order for the special battery. Two days and even a request on our forum and we still cannot locate a battery without maybe making some bid on ebay for such. This definitely does not speak well for the design and should prompt the manufacturer to include a battery or change to a more standard means of power. The catalog companies should put the requires special battery in their product description also.
09-02-2011 update: The big wheels on the inter net started to turn and we heard from a number of folks in reference to the battery situation. Some have had good luck going to Radio Shack for this battery. My calls there did not find any locally but I have yet to travel across town to the Battery Plus store to check. Anyway we now think that we will be able to acquire a battery by the time we get to that portion of the review. We also heard that our suggestion as to having a battery shipped in the package will be adapted in the near future. This will solve a good many issues. The day range picture was taken using the HIGH setting and it also came out like my initial tests as being somewhat fuzzy and lacked definition. The trigger time tests came out without conclusion and will have to be analyzed a little further. Our system for some reason came out very slow in both day and with flash. My initial testing had some triggers maybe in the 1 second range but I was not able to determine just which kind of action was best required to trigger during my short in house testing. I sent it out to Anthony and when I saw the results I knew there may be something wrong. We will spend a little more time and figure it out completely as time allows. In the mean time we will start to gather some sample pictures in each resolution and then move on to both video resolutions.
09-02-2011 update #2: With my business mail I am forever receiving all these little envelopes that contain sample pens and other promotional items from vendors that are in the printing business. Today I received such an envelope that was just to Bill and my address and had no return address. Inside was a wad of toilet tissue and a single small battery in the center. Some person felt sorry for my dilemma and sent me a battery for the remote. I will say thank you to who ever you are. This battery is a whole lot smaller than I had predicted judging from the hole that it is suppose to fit in. It is about as big as a pencil and only 1 and 1/16 inches long. Well that problem is solved and as time allows we will now be able to get to the WiFi test. Our Radio Shack said they no longer carry that battery.
09-03-2011 update: Another day and this time we had our herd take what may be a holiday weekend off, because they did not show up. The only visitor was a skinny little fox. The night pictures are also fuzzy and we have a tremendous amount of splash from the array, even though the aim is what we feel is proper. These flash range pictures are on the top 10 MP setting. The balance of the lab tests showed that the delay averaged out at 28 seconds for the 15 second setting. The sensing was at 47 feet for this hot 85 degree evening. We are going to ask for some other users to post a couple pictures so we can maybe judge if the fuzzy pictures are related to just this camera (like MOULTRIE M-40I GAME CAMERA ) or maybe those also. The very cheap N2 camera from this company has some really great pictures so it does not make sense that the top of the line would have this issue.
There is also another negative that seems to be happening with this camera. We have asked for feedback from others but no one has answered as of this report. The negative we have found is that the filter clunk is pretty loud and it happens every time the camera flashes. We just cannot get any field data on this camera either. We dont know if no one has purchased them or if they did they are not talking about it.
09-04-2011 update: We installed the Wifi module on the camera today and began our testing. The first thing we noticed is that neither the wifi or the remote signal would operate through the walls of the house but outside it appeared to have the full range of 300+ feet (line of sight). The first test was to see if I actually needed the download from WGI. I clicked the remote button and waited a few seconds. I then clicked "View Wireless Networks" on my Windows 7 laptop. I selected the WGI unit from the list and clicked "Connect". I was told "Unable to connect".
I then went to the WGI main website and the download for the Windows app was in the middle of the page. I downloaded the app which was zipped and unzipped it. There was a Setup.exe which I ran and it installed FieldNet software App on my laptop. I then reconnected to the WGI under wireless networks and it allowed the connection which was listed as a Wireless N connection.
I launched the fieldnet application and after clicking reconnect it found the wifi unit and connected itself. It provided a list of 196 photos in 10MP without thumbnails. I clicked the "download all" button and timed the download. I then computed the average download speed and it came out at 1.3kb/s which is fairly good. The total download was 396MB and took 5 minutes. Painless. I disconnected my wifi.
The photos that are downloaded are renamed and YYYY-MM-DD-HH-NN is prepended to the original file name. You must download a photo or photos then view them locally. There is no option to view remotely. Also, there is no "delete all" button. It appears that you must select each photo or group of them one at a time and click the delete button.
09-04-2011 update #2: I waited for Anthony to get done playing the WiFi game and recorded the results. This camera probably needs to be situated some where a little further away from the target area than what the normal user would think. It has a very strong flash and it is very much over powering on anything as far out as 30 feet. Please view the sample pictures and see the results of our first samples in the 10 MP setting. Next evaluation is the day color pictures. They are OK but definitely not nearly as good as the pictures off its little brother the N2. During this first run of about a hundred and fifty pictures we did not experience any whiteout pictures but the transition pictures were a bit grainy and dark. The downloaded pictures were the same quality as the pictures coming straight off the card, so there is no degrading of quality during that process.
I logged a couple more hours going over the practicality of this system. First let me say that it does work but it will only serve to allow access to the pictures on your card that is in the camera. Lets say that the camera is in a high volume traffic area and you are getting maybe 50+ pictures a day. The card size to hold and store 10 MP file sized pictures for maybe a week (350+ pictures) would have to be 4 gig or above. You then haul into your area but stay the 300 feet away with your download device and copy off the weeks pictures. You cannot clear the card, the pictures will still remain on the card and the following weeks pictures will also be put on that same card. Depending on your choice of card size will determine just when you must actually visit the camera and swap out the card. So what I am saying is the card size and your choice of resolution setting will determine just how often you have to actually visit the camera and not just download from a distance. Battery data is also not transmitted so you must also know the approximate length of time the camera can be deployed on a single charge. The field reports so far have been an average of two weeks. We have not yet determined what our battery life will be. There will be more to follow as we did a little deeper.
09-05-2011 update: Being that this is their flag ship we felt that maybe the results as far as picture quality was maybe just our own unit. We requested that other users send us some pictures so we could make a comparison. The results were basically the same. The pictures are good but not sharp and clear as we have seen on most of the other WGI cameras that are currently being reviewed. We had seen this before with the Reconyx cameras early shipments. Their shop told me that the focus had slipped a little bit due to a formula that was applied to prevent the focus from being turned or rattled around during handling. That formula had actually shrunk and pulled the focus out of adjustment. This was a very quick fix for their customer service people because they had ours back in a couple days. We do not know if this is the case here but it does seem strange that the top of the line cam would not perform as well as their bottom cam in the picture quality area.
09-07-2011 update: The medium setting (8MP) also came out about the same with no change in quality except for a smaller file size. We have determined that this is about as good as it is going to get with this camera. We have another rez setting then its on to the video setting before we wrap this review up.
09-08-2011 update: The next setting was low rez and the picture quality still remains the same but it is my favorite setting for this camera. This is the 5 MP setting which is the base rez for the sensor and is more than enough picture size for scouting. The file size is smaller and easier to handle. Next will be the video settings and we will be done with this unit.
09-11-11 update: Our first outing in video let us know that the video has sound and that seemed to work very well. The sensing during this test has one capture out past 80 feet which was pretty amazing but out night temperatures have now dropped into the 60s. The video quality in the high setting works but is still like the pictures where there is a degree of fuzziness even with the day color captures.
09-21-2011 update: The old 8X camera we tested sure made us think we would have about the same results from this camera as far as picture quality. Most every thing went well in the review but we did have the fuzzy picture issue which still has us puzzled because of what we saw during the N2 review. We are now running out the battery life and will report on that as that happens. This review is closed.
10-16-2011 update: We have continued to follow the field reports on this camera and some have had better pictures than our camera but all have pretty well had issues with the module. A good portion of the problems is with the remote and the battery. The battery life of the camera was 30 days with 938 pictures and 233 fifteen second videos. The remote battery lasted only about a week and then became weak and required that the remote be within a few feet to make the module function. The camera its self has been received well because of its very strong flash. This concludes all evaluations of this camera.
10-21-2011 update: Very strange, after we completed the battery life test after the initial charge. We tried to charge the supplied SLA 6 volt cell and found that the battery is no longer any good and will not take a charge. The process of waiting for the camera to completely stop and gathering that data evidently caused the SLA battery to fail. So those who have this camera probably should not wait until the battery is all the way drained before bringing it back in to be recharged. This would indicate that maybe the recharging process should be done at about a two week interval when the picture count reaches about a thousand pictures. Then the battery should be able to be recharged.
10-29-2011 update: I went to work and finally found a new battery for this camera at Battery Plus and got it charged. It required that I bend the terminals in order for this new battery to make contact with the spring terminals inside the camera. I also found that if the camera receives a good bump from the side, the battery terminals will again bend down and again fail to meet the spring contacts in the camera. I found this to be true with the original battery also. This was an $18 recovery cost to get this camera back working. The camera failed to maintain the time date data internally during the time to acquire the new battery.
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