Jul 10, 2018

Trail Camera Anticipation

Excitement every day with new cellular trail cameras technology

By Nic Beining

The allure of a trail camera is clear. They provide added insight about a property, the wildlife within it and their habits for scouting, nutrition management, herd observation and more.

Where the love can get lost is in the process – a drive to the property, a hike through a mosquito or tick-infested woods, and swapping out memory cards all take time. Time that’s worth the anticipation when you see quality wildlife images, but it can feel like a waste if there are a few hundred squirrel pictures on the memory card.

The good news is there’s technology available to deliver the thrills of checking a trail camera every day along with the frills of remotely adjusting settings without needing the time to physically go to the camera. 

Cellular trail cameras have been around for almost a decade, but earlier models relied on more simple 2G or 3G networks. These networks are used for talking on your cell phone and light data services, such as sending a picture text or light web browsing.

Cellular trail cams have become more effective with 4G long-term evolution, or LTE. One manufacturer, Spartan, is the pioneer for 4G LTE cameras with its GoCam LTE product, which launched in late 2017. The device has revolutionized the connected trail camera experience. When considering making a cellular camera purchase, it’s smart to invest in a 4G version. The other network types will be obsolete in the not-so-distant future, but 4G LTE networks are still growing and will be around for some time to come.


Frills and perks

The Spartan GoCam is a motion-activated trail camera. With GoCam Premium service, the camera wirelessly uploads pictures to the Spartan Camera website and can forward pictures via email or to an app on a smartphone. Users can instantly receive photos and even high-definition videos of what activated the motion, saving time, gas money and providing that feeling of excitement as often as a camera detects motion. An added benefit it that the GoCam allows you to leave the property undisturbed and free from scent while still gathering the data desired about the wildlife you’re pursuing.

The GoCam features an infrared blackout flash to prevent spooking animals in the dark with a glowing light. It operates on AA batteries and can send approximately 1,500 to 2,000 thumbnail images. If the camera is used where AC power is accessible, an adapter accessory is available so the camera can run all year long.

The camera sensitivity can be adjusted remotely to prevent unwanted images from small or distant animals. When it detects motion, Spartan GoCam will transmit a low-resolution image to your device, and then allow you to request the HD version or a 5- or 10-second video if the photo warrants a better look. Transmitting low-resolution images initially conserves the camera’s battery life as well as minimizes plan data use.

Spartan GoCam LTE users only consumer about 50 megabytes of data per month per camera on average, so there is very little impact on a family’s shared data plan. Photos are easily shared via the app or messaging, and guest access can be granted to others in your hunting party so everyone can view images taken by the camera.


Justifiable investment?

The device has also found a niche as a security camera at cabins. Since it doesn’t require any wires, it can be moved from season to season where it’s needed. The camera can be programmed to take a photo at a certain time every day to check whether contracted work like snow removal or grass trimming has been completed while monitoring for motion from trespassers.

The Spartan GoCam retails for about $450, while quality non-cellular game cameras typically retail between $100 to $175. A fair amount of the cost difference is due to the 4G LTE cellular modem integrated into the device. A vast amount of research, development and testing is required to optimize the operation of the camera and cellular device to use the smallest amount of wireless data and power to take and transmit images, as well as to develop the mobile applications. Evaluating the time hunters spending checking their trail cameras out in the field – along with potential travel costs – could help justify the additional investment.

The GoCam LTE can be added to any of Cellcom’s share plans for as little as $9 per month, which includes Spartan Premium subscription. The premium subscription is what grants access to manage the camera wirelessly and use the Spartan Camera management app.

The device can be purchased with a variety of options, including a flex agreement to pay for the camera in installments. Security enclosures and locks are available to protect the camera.

With any carrier or trail camera, check the cellular coverage where you plan to install the camera. Spartan GoCam is 4G LTE only and needs that connection to upload photos. For remote areas or very dense forest, a high-gain antenna accessory kit is available. If a trail camera is used on public lands, be sure to check out the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ regulations which require cameras to be labeled with the owner’s information. It is possible to activate a camera-only plan on the Cellcom network.

Spartan cameras original and most widely-used purpose is for monitoring hunting ground. Having the ability to view animal activity on your mobile app without having to intrude on hunting grounds is a great investment.


Nic Beining is the director of product management for Green Bay-based Cellcom. He’s been with the company for more than 20 years, but he’s been hunting even longer. Nic started heading out to the woods along with his dad when he was 3-years-old, and now hunts his property in the Algoma area.