-By Randy Cooper
Man, what a year it’s been. I’ve somehow managed to end up with five Moultrie trail cameras. The battery life on these cameras is great. I have them set up for video mode at 30 seconds a pop and, in some cases, multiple still pictures in enhanced mode. Most nights I’m getting an average of 30 and as many as 100 pictures and videos on a single camera!! I have not seen another trail camera on the market today that conserves batteries and does as much as the Moultrie Game Spy cameras.
Although the average battery life on the cameras is 150 days, I’m like all hunters and want more. So I started looking into rechargeable batteries. However, when I checked the Moultrie website I found one of their newest products. They now offer the PowerPanel that works with all of their 2007 and later trail cameras. When the PowerPanel is plugged into the camera, it is designed to run off of the power source that has the highest charge. Throughout the day, the solar panel on the PowerPanel charges the built-in 12 volt battery. During long periods of overcast or rainy conditions, the camera will automatically revert to running off of the D-cell batteries that are in the camera until the charge on the PowerPanel is built back up. This unit ensures a continued source of power to your camera for who know how long.
The PowerPanel features a menu with a digital readout that displays an array of information such as the state of charge of the internal 12 volt battery (Internal Charge Level) and the Real-Time Solar Value, which tells how much direct sunlight is getting to the panel. The Real-Time Solar Value is helpful in aiming the solar panel to get the best shot of sunlight. The readout also shows the daily and weekly solar averages. Because the whole purpose of the PowerPanel is to use sunlight as a power source, you must put it in the sunniest place you can find around the camera, which is easy to do with the aid of the LCD readouts and the 10-foot cord that connects right to the camera at its base.
The unit comes with a couple of screws to attach the swiveling base to a tree, but I reasoned that the tree trunk itself would eventually cast a shadow and block the sun from the solar panel. I looked around, found some scrap lumber and made a simple mount that would allow me to place the PowerPanel away from anything that would cast a shadow. This also allows me to aim it in any direction I choose. Here are a few pictures of the construction of the mount. It consists of a vertical 4-ft long 2x4 that has a horizontal 2-ft long 2x4- attached at the top at a 90-degree angle. A 1-ft long 2x4 cut at a 45-degree angle on each end makes up the brace between the two. I dug a small hole 1-ft deep in the ground and put the vertical post in. I simply packed the dirt back into the hole around the post and it was done. This was an easy solution to mounting the power panel away from shady areas and it took just about 10 minutes to make it.
Get yourself a couple of these new PowerPanels for your Game Spy cameras (2007 and later models). It’s the latest technology from Moultrie. They are always finding a way to help hunters enjoy their sport even more. You will find yourself going to buy batteries and disturbing your hunting area a lot less because of it. Thanks Moultrie for another great product!