The DIY Hunter

Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD Trail Camera Mounting plate

The Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD trail camera has a solid metal mounting plate on the back. Good luck ripping this camera off the tree Mr. Black Bear.


Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD Trail Camera Door Latch

The door and latch system to access the control panel and SDHC memory card on the BTC-7FHD trail camera.


Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD Trail Camera with 12V NiMh battery pack

A DIY 12V NiMh Rechargeable Trail Camera Battery Pack attached to the external 12v power port on the Browning Recon Force trail camera.

In February of 2015 I was able to get my first Recon Force (BTC-7FHD) trail camera, the newest trail camera from Browning. After a couple weeks of testing the camera I am just amazed with the video quality this camera produces.

The camera takes full HD 1920x1080 video. The quality of the audio is also top notch. The video is saved in H264 MP4 format on a SDHC card.

I have just really been blown away by the videos this camera produces. I thought the HD videos the older Browning Trail cameras produce where awesome, now they just don't quite compare.

The camera uses the single buckle latch on the lower half of the camera. Browning used this latch on the sub micro Strike Force trail camera last year. I like this system over the double snapping buckles from the older Recon Force cameras.

I have noticed that the camera does an awesome job with getting triggered by even small critters like robins and cats and raccoons that are 20 yards away from the camera.

Another feature I really like is that the plastic mounting brackets have been replaced with a solid steel plate that covers much of the back of the camera. This will greatly help the camera from being broken off a tree by a bear or an operator trying to wedge a shim in between the camera and the tree while the camera is cinched on tight. Not that that hasn't ever happened to me. ;)

One thing that I have found with this camera is that it does chew through batteries a little faster than the past models. Taking video uses a lot more battery than just taking images. More battery consumption was expected given that it writes more to the SDHC card and captures so much more detail.  To help with making sure the camera has plenty of juice between checking it I have made a DIY 12V NiMh Rechargeable Trail Camera Battery Pack.

I also found that set to capture 30 second video clips the camera took 386 videos before the 32 GB SDHC SD card filled up. Many of the videos it captured were 10 second LED infrared lighted ten second videos at night of raccoons. The ten second black and white videos don't take as much space on the SD card. A little math on the file size on the 100,000 KB file size of a 30 second clip gives me 320 videos to fill a 32 GB card.

I picked up some 64 GB cards to try but the camera shows an error. Darn it! There have been many times that my favorite springs to watch for elk have filled up my 32 GB SD cards with the smaller HD videos from my old cameras in less that two weeks. It sure would be nice to be able to use 64 or 128 GB cards. Looks like I'll have to check this camera a little more frequently. I guess the camera isn't quite perfect but it's getting close.

Included on this post are some sample videos from the first few weeks of using the camera. Wow! Just awesome quality for a trail camera.

Thanks to this camera I will now be trying to upgrade my cameras to the new Recon Force Full HD cameras. I may also try the new Strike Force BTC- 5HD camera as it also has better video... although probably now quite as good as this Recon Force.

For the past couple years I have been keeping six or more trail cameras out year round. I love watching the critters the cameras are able to catch in images and video.

Recently I picked up a new Browning Recon Force (BTC-7FHD) that takes full HD video and a 2015 version of the Strike Force camera I really like. In the first couple of days of testing the cameras I realized that the batteries were getting drained a little faster than my older Browning trail cameras. It's makes sense that recording larger files of higher quality video would drain the batteries a little quicker.

Combine the fact that I have been feeding multiple cameras hundreds of batteries through the years and the higher battery consuming newer models, I setout to find a solution that would not only provide rechargeable batteries but also provide greater longevity of the batteries before they stopped operating the camera in the field.

I have found that when you have cattle coming into the same spring that the elk and deer love, several hundred videos can easily be recorded in a week. With 32 GB SDHD cards I can get hundreds of videos but sometimes the alkaline AA batteries in the camera get drained out before the SD card is full.

The Browning trail cameras themselves are designed to run with 1.5 Volt AA batteries. The problem with just putting rechargeable NiMh batteries into the camera is that NiMh batteries are only 1.2 Volts. With an eight battery trail camera and this would create only 9.6 Volts instead of 12 Volts. I have heard of people running their cameras with only 9.6 volts put this makes me a little weary that it wouldn't have the juice to operate the LED flash at night and just not perform very well.

A nice feature to all Browning trail cameras is the ability to plug in an external 12V power source. I have used the Browning external battery packs that run on eight 1.5V AA batteries to make 12 Volts of juice. With this in mind the gears have been a churning in my head. What if I had a external battery pack that had ten 1.2V NIMH batteries for a 12V total pack? Hmm...

Here's what I came up with: Because each battery pack will have ten batteries I found a charger that holds ten batteries so I can recharge the AA batteries in groups of ten to match the battery packs. I purchased some "2.1 x 5.5mm DC Power Pigtail Male" plugs, and tracked down some hard to find battery cases that hold ten AA batteries.

For protective case to place the battery packs inside I am trying out reusing empty Berger bullet cases. I just drilled a hole for the power cord to go through and two holes in the back/bottom of the case to thread parachute cord through to use to attach the pack to a tree.

I used some sand paper to roughen the outside surface of the plastic bullet box and then spray painted the box earthy green. Because the box isn't water tight I am placing the battery pack inside of a zip lock bag then placing this inside of the bullet box. I also use the cut foam that comes in the bullet box to cushion the bullets to fill in and cushion the battery pack.

I have been testing this DIY 12V rechargeable battery pack and to looks like it is going to work great. I'm thinking this will eventually really save me in the battery expenses and I believe these packs should really out perform using alkaline batteries as there will be two additional batteries with the NiMh AAs and NIMH batteries maintain a very strong voltage over the life of the charge. On the other hand alkaline batteries start loosing voltage the minute you start using them. I am also thinking this battery pack will work really well in cold temperatures.

One downside to NiMh batteries is that I have heard somewhere that they loose their charge in hot temperatures, I think above 90 degrees or so. I will have to see if I can find more info on this.

I think I am really going to like this NiMh battery system! Now I just need some more Berger Bullet cases to make several more battery packs... I might have to find some other cases to use until I burn through some more Berger bullets.

Since I first tried the Berger Bullet cases I have found a better case to use for the battery packs. The cases are Black & Decker ForTools cases that are designed to clip to your belt and hold screws and other small parts and tools. I found some of these cases at Ace Hardware. With a little paint and a hole drilled through the edge of where the door closes these cases work great.

Here's some of the first video I have got from the new full HD Browning Recon Force BTC-7FHD trail camera. This camera takes a little more juice to operate and my DIY battery packs should work great at making sure the camera has plenty of power before I return to check it again.

12v AA battery setup for trail cameras

Some of the supplies to start using NiMh AA rechargeable batteries with my Browning trail cameras.


Berger bullet case for 12v battery pack

A Berger VLD bullet box works great for making a case to enclose the ten NiMh AA 12V battery pack.


Berger bullet case painted for 12v aa battery pack

MY DIY rechargeable 12 Volt external battery pack ready for use. I placed the batteries inside of a plastic baggie and then use the foam that comes with the bullets to pad the extra space inside of the box.


Black Decker For Tool Box

The Berger bullet boxes work good but I have since found that Black & Decker ForTools boxes work even better. These boxes have a metal clip on the back that makes it a breeze to just clip the battery pack to the strap that is holding the trail camera.


Trail Camera Battery boxes for 12v NiMh batteries

A few Black & Decker ForTools cases painted up green. The cases are ready to put in my Alps Crossfire X Pack to take to the woods to put on my trail cameras.


Browning trail camera with DIY 12v AA battery pack

I just drill a hole on the rim of the door closure for the cord to thread out, a little spray paint and the Black & Decker ForTools boxes work great for holding the 12v NiMh battery pack.

With the mule deer rut is in full swing I've got my FujiFilm HS50exr camera out trying to get a few photos of the mule deer in the area. Unfortunately, my camera is developing a small white spot on two of the lenses that contact each other internally. This lens issue happened to my HS20exr and now my HS50exr. I love the cameras but I guess I'll just have to think of them like disposable cameras that will last me about a year and a half.

I will continue to add photos to this post as I take them this fall and winter.

HS50exr Photo of 4 point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of 4 point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer with broken antler in grass

HS50exr Photo of 3x4 and doe on skyline

HS50exr Photo of 3x4 and doe on skyline

HS50exr Photo of 3x4 and doe on skyline

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer bedded on ridge

HS50exr Photo of 3x4 and doe bedded on skyline

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer bedded on skyline

HS50exr Photo of Four Point Mule Deer bedded on skyline

HS50exr Photo of Mule Deer buck and doe

HS50exr Photo of Mule Deer buck and doe