Troglodyte Soil-Cam

I just ordered 3 of those cameras! our friend Michael Candy loves to put them on his robotic / kinetic / bee-based installations.

they send the images over wifi and the camera module can be stuck into the ground. we just need to put it into some kinda transparent tube/container, and add extra LEDs to monitor all kinda critters that might be crawling around underneath our feet.

so we can chill in front of the fireplace inside the house and check out the activities in the soil without getting wet and drity :slight_smile:

not my favorite soundrack… but watch this:

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Nice cameras !!! Put inside mouth or inside ass jejjeje

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Hi friends~
It might be a good idea to put the camera inside a large test tube or something clear and water tight before embedding in the soil, or your ass.

best luck!

hi all,

link to ass cameras for specs/ purchase please?



There are commercial solutions for this, but I believe they cost thousands or tens of thousands of euro. As far as I know, soil imaging is mostly done to measure root growth. I could ask my colleague about the recent technological advances in the field.

I have heard that people use (A4?) scanners for this purpose as well. Obviously they require more power and need some environmental sealing as well.

In the link there are some instructions for state-of-the-art root growth measurements using minirhizotrons:

The idea is that you bury the transparent tubes into the soil, let them be there several years, drop the camera into the tube every month or so, and measure the root growth/senescence from a digital image on a computer. By the way, analyzing the data on a computer requires quite heavy subjective interpretation…

The more advanced systems allow the user to place the camera always to the same depth(s), rotate the camera 360 degrees, and so on. But I think it should be possible to do all this manually as well by installing the camera on a rod that fits tightly inside the tube. Getting the images from exactly the same places can be done using height and rotation location (e.g. 0°, 30°, 60°…) markings on the tube.

Note that as far as I know, the state-of-the-art systems are not measuring/photographing the soil constantly. Instead, the user must drop the camera there every now and then. However, with cheaper components, a relatively large soil area could be photographed automatically, without the need of manual work! This could be a huge advantage, making a cheaper and more simple system in fact better than the 100-times more expensive one.

The least, a simpler but more “automatic” (constant measurement) system could work very nicely in laboratory environment. That being said, the same observetaions at least in principle be observed by using a transparent flower pot… So instead of observing the soil from INSIDE the tube, the soil can be observed from OUTSIDE the tube as well (although it is not exactly the same).

They are easy to find on ebay or ali-express. Search for “WiFi IP Camera DIY Module”. Prize is around 16-20 US$.

About the specs, these cheap cams are usually super bad quality, even if it says full HD whatever crap on the shop page. in fact i wouldnt mind spending 40-50 us$ for something slightly better, but havent found yet.

thx @Pannu for all your background info about soil-cams!
burrying a scanner seems also a great idea! i have an old one, to offer to our compost!

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Yeah fascinating topic!

Close focus ability is important when photographing things underground. I wonder how close these cameras can focus? Tiny sensors basically mean plenty of depth-of-field, but I guess these cheap camera modules have fixed focus. Probably some kind of hacking is required to focus very close (there are many options, do an internet search). My bad-old Huawei Y360 (emergency)smartphone has a fixed focus camera that seems to be in focus range (depth-of-field) from about 10cm to infinity. It’s a very bad camera. With half-decent sensor it would probably be from 50cm to infinity.

Another question is that how small the objects to be photographed are (or how far they are from the camera)? The fine roots are about 1mm, but I guess larger objects (worms etc.) would be interesting as well, especially in a compost or similar environment.

These cameras seem to stream video, and unfortunately it typically takes days, weeks months or years to be able to observe visual changes in soil (but leaves etc. can decompose pretty fast*). I actually think this is exciting, because we can simultaneously see from other instruments, such as chambers, that the soil is very active.

Noisy 30 fps video could in principle be averaged into less noisy 1 fps or 1/3600 fps video.

*Decomposing material is not typically considered soil, but the interesting thing is when dead material becomes soil! Living leaf -> dead leaf -> decomposing leaf -> microbes/residue -> nutrients in plants -> living leaf -> …

i have done hundreds of hacks of these cams. see DIY microscoe.
i guess extra lighting will be crucial, but easy to do.

and yes… we have time. to leave them in the ground for years.

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YAY!! I love where this discussion is going!! what about a microscopical livestream? what about motion-detection?


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DUUUUUUUUDDDDEEE That guy who has the soil cam is my friend Josh! I can put you in contact with him, you should talk to him he’s awesome.


yea, please put us in contact!! my email:

ahja… here is the full instructions:



Wow, fantastic !!!
I see i have to work on Timelapse and Soilcam -thanks for this inspiring clips and infos :slight_smile: