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Cuddeback Link Trail Camera System

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    Posted: December/16/2018 at 12:38
Is anyone using the Cuddeback Link with Black Flash?  I want it for two purposes... long range scouting AND property security.  This system seems like a good way to go.  I tracked Cuddeback stuff for a while a few years back, but kind of lost track.  It seemed good back then and claims some pretty significant improvements.  
First hand experience information would be appreciated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 10:10
I don't know about the Link series cameras, but I've now had 4 Cuddeback trail cams, and I won't be buying another. All of my Cuddebacks have failed in short time in one way or another. 

My first Cuddeback, the "No Flash," allowed water to leak inside and stopped working. I sent it back to Cuddeback and they blamed battery corrosion, even though that wasn't the cause of failure. They refused to repair it under warranty and I had to pay for repairs. After repair, it worked for a couple months then died. I bought another Cuddeback (the "Capture IR") a couple years later because I liked the changes in the case design and the setup ease, thinking the new case would be better in keeping out water. I didn't get to really test how well it kept water out because it just quit working on me after about 4 months of use. I didn't send this one back to Cuddeback; instead I returned it to the "Big C" where I bought it and they gave me a new one. This new one seemed to work well for about 6 months, at which point it developed 2 problems: it started just randomly taking photos every couple minutes without being triggered by an animal, and then the IR night photos all appeared solid black. I swore at that point that I was done with Cuddeback. But, for whatever reason, I decided to give them one more chance, mainly because I was having a high failure rate with several other brands of trail cams. So, I bought an "IR Attack." This one stopped working after about 6 months as well when water entered inside and killed the electronics. I returned this one to the store and exchanged for another brand. Which brings up the importance of keeping your receipt and buying trail cams from a retailer with a generous return policy. I had heard from other people that Cuddeback's customer service wasn't the best and they would blame the customer for issues that were a result of poor design, which mirrored my lone experience with their CS dept. At this point, I was finally done with Cuddeback. Even if my later Cuddeback purchases had worked out well, and even if they had made significant strides in their reliability, other game cameras on the market offered better performance specs for the same or less money, so I haven't looked at any of their products since 2011 or so.

When game cams were first introduced to the market, Cuddeback was king due to its prolific marketing and its speed claims. You couldn't open any hunting related magazine without seeing their slick full page ads claiming their performance was better than their competitors. I feel like Cuddeback kinda became the Leupold of trail cams, resting on their laurels a little too much, making outlandish marketing claims, and becoming complacent while other brands exceeded their performance for less money.

In fairness, I haven't had good luck with most other brands and models of trail cams either, and I've tried a dump truck load of them. Basically all but a few are cheaply made Chinese crap. The only one that has exceeded my expectations and has continued working for several years is a Reconyx Hyperfire HC500, but it is very expensive, so it should be a better product. Of the "value" trail cams, I've had the best luck with the Bushnell Trophy Cam series. Basically, they just suck less than the other "under $150" cams I've used. I've had several of them fail in one way or another as well, but at least they tend to give me around 2 years of service between failures, and they aren't too expensive, so the failures don't hurt as much. The Bushnell Trophy Cams take good quality photos, don't fire a bunch of blank photos with no critters in the frame, and provide long battery life. But, the Trophy Cams don't have the nifty wireless link feature, so they aren't really relevant to the topic at hand. I have started looking at trail cams as disposable items and just buy 4 or 5 new ones every 2 years when the previous ones quit on me. 

Also, in fairness I haven't tried any recent Cuddebacks, nor have I tried any of the wireless networking cameras like their CuddeLink series or one from a competing brand. A buddy of mine has a wireless cam, and it is very cool to be able to access your photos remotely from your cell phone. However, his camera (I don't recall brand) started giving him problems as well after 3 months. Given my lousy luck with trail cams in general, I'm just not willing to take a chance and spend the kind of money these wireless link cams go for, despite how cool and convenient their technology promises. I'm at my hunting areas often enough that it's no big deal to me to just wait until the next time I'm there and swap out cards.

I wish I could provide more helpful info, but really I guess my point is, I really don't trust Cuddeback, and they have certainly earned my distrust.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote supertool73 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 10:18
At this point I don't remember the model, but both my dad and my inlaws bought the same Bushnell camera and they are at least 7 years old and still ticking.  They spend all year out on the properties of both my dads and my inlaws properties and are still working.  We are talking deep snow etc.  They have worked well. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sgt. D Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 10:46

 I've used the old Bushnell trophy cam for years. Got one that is at least 14yrs old. But you may have to be willing to do your own repairs. These were built to fail eventually. The wires from battery pack to circuit board are designed to short out after a few yrs. But replacing the wires is not "TOO" difficult. A hot stick solider tool and a jewelers head set and I was able to keep em working. On some the IR emitters go out and they are just day cameras after that.

 I have never liked Cuddeback because the people I know who have them are constantly cussin em. The Bushnell's can be aggravating at times but for the money they are what I will stay with. 

 As for link cameras these have the best reviews.

Spypoint Link-EVO 12MP Cellular Trail Camera

Regular Price:  $249.99

Verizon or AT&T

• Sends you images directly at 4G speeds

• No trips to the field required to check images

• Free monthly plan with 100 included photos

• Free unlimited photos for 30 days

• Includes a pre-activated SIM card

Stealth Cam GXW 22MP Wireless Trail Camera

Regular Price:  $249.99

AT&T only

• Professional-level 22MP images capture action mid stride

• Wirelessly transmits images and video clips

• Matrix advanced blur reduction enhancement

• 16:9 wide-image ratio frames large areas

• 720P HD video with audio in 5-180-second segments

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote supertool73 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 11:23
Dan, have you also considered IP surveillance camera's?

Ubiquiti sells camera's and point to point access points that would allow you to created networks around your property to do this.

I don't know what kind of money you are willing to spend on this as you will likely need to put in some small solar arrays and some batteries to keep the access point and cameras powered, but the systems work pretty sweet. 

Each access point has two ports on them, one goes to the power and the other to the camera and the camera draws power from the access point.  And if you would want more than one camera per access point you should be able to hook up a couple with a small network switch. 

This way you could have live video pointing back to your house and be stored on a hard drive and be access by your phone from anywhere any time.  I have 6 of these cameras around my house and yard and they pretty neat.  They see into the night with infrared 30 feet of so and the new ones have 1080 video.  Mine are the older model 720p video and they are pretty nice.

I have had camera's up for 5 years or so and have not had one fail yet.  I have went through 4 of the point to point devices but they have been running for 10 years. 

Also with this you could put your home WiFi all around your property if you wanted.  




Edited by supertool73 - December/17/2018 at 11:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 16:02
Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:

I don't know about the Link series cameras, but I've now had 4 Cuddeback trail cams, and I won't be buying another. All of my Cuddebacks have failed in short time in one way or another. 

My first Cuddeback, the "No Flash," allowed water to leak inside and stopped working. I sent it back to Cuddeback and they blamed battery corrosion, even though that wasn't the cause of failure. They refused to repair it under warranty and I had to pay for repairs. After repair, it worked for a couple months then died. I bought another Cuddeback (the "Capture IR") a couple years later because I liked the changes in the case design and the setup ease, thinking the new case would be better in keeping out water. I didn't get to really test how well it kept water out because it just quit working on me after about 4 months of use. I didn't send this one back to Cuddeback; instead I returned it to the "Big C" where I bought it and they gave me a new one. This new one seemed to work well for about 6 months, at which point it developed 2 problems: it started just randomly taking photos every couple minutes without being triggered by an animal, and then the IR night photos all appeared solid black. I swore at that point that I was done with Cuddeback. But, for whatever reason, I decided to give them one more chance, mainly because I was having a high failure rate with several other brands of trail cams. So, I bought an "IR Attack." This one stopped working after about 6 months as well when water entered inside and killed the electronics. I returned this one to the store and exchanged for another brand. Which brings up the importance of keeping your receipt and buying trail cams from a retailer with a generous return policy. I had heard from other people that Cuddeback's customer service wasn't the best and they would blame the customer for issues that were a result of poor design, which mirrored my lone experience with their CS dept. At this point, I was finally done with Cuddeback. Even if my later Cuddeback purchases had worked out well, and even if they had made significant strides in their reliability, other game cameras on the market offered better performance specs for the same or less money, so I haven't looked at any of their products since 2011 or so.

When game cams were first introduced to the market, Cuddeback was king due to its prolific marketing and its speed claims. You couldn't open any hunting related magazine without seeing their slick full page ads claiming their performance was better than their competitors. I feel like Cuddeback kinda became the Leupold of trail cams, resting on their laurels a little too much, making outlandish marketing claims, and becoming complacent while other brands exceeded their performance for less money.

In fairness, I haven't had good luck with most other brands and models of trail cams either, and I've tried a dump truck load of them. Basically all but a few are cheaply made Chinese crap. The only one that has exceeded my expectations and has continued working for several years is a Reconyx Hyperfire HC500, but it is very expensive, so it should be a better product. Of the "value" trail cams, I've had the best luck with the Bushnell Trophy Cam series. Basically, they just suck less than the other "under $150" cams I've used. I've had several of them fail in one way or another as well, but at least they tend to give me around 2 years of service between failures, and they aren't too expensive, so the failures don't hurt as much. The Bushnell Trophy Cams take good quality photos, don't fire a bunch of blank photos with no critters in the frame, and provide long battery life. But, the Trophy Cams don't have the nifty wireless link feature, so they aren't really relevant to the topic at hand. I have started looking at trail cams as disposable items and just buy 4 or 5 new ones every 2 years when the previous ones quit on me. 

Also, in fairness I haven't tried any recent Cuddebacks, nor have I tried any of the wireless networking cameras like their CuddeLink series or one from a competing brand. A buddy of mine has a wireless cam, and it is very cool to be able to access your photos remotely from your cell phone. However, his camera (I don't recall brand) started giving him problems as well after 3 months. Given my lousy luck with trail cams in general, I'm just not willing to take a chance and spend the kind of money these wireless link cams go for, despite how cool and convenient their technology promises. I'm at my hunting areas often enough that it's no big deal to me to just wait until the next time I'm there and swap out cards.

I wish I could provide more helpful info, but really I guess my point is, I really don't trust Cuddeback, and they have certainly earned my distrust.



Thank you.  Not what I had hoped to hear, but just the kind of information I need.  Much appreciated.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 16:06
Originally posted by Sgt. D Sgt. D wrote:

 I've used the old Bushnell trophy cam for years. Got one that is at least 14yrs old. But you may have to be willing to do your own repairs. These were built to fail eventually. The wires from battery pack to circuit board are designed to short out after a few yrs. But replacing the wires is not "TOO" difficult. A hot stick solider tool and a jewelers head set and I was able to keep em working. On some the IR emitters go out and they are just day cameras after that.

 I have never liked Cuddeback because the people I know who have them are constantly cussin em. The Bushnell's can be aggravating at times but for the money they are what I will stay with. 

 As for link cameras these have the best reviews.

Spypoint Link-EVO 12MP Cellular Trail Camera

Regular Price:  $249.99

Verizon or AT&T

• Sends you images directly at 4G speeds

• No trips to the field required to check images

• Free monthly plan with 100 included photos

• Free unlimited photos for 30 days

• Includes a pre-activated SIM card

Stealth Cam GXW 22MP Wireless Trail Camera

Regular Price:  $249.99

AT&T only

• Professional-level 22MP images capture action mid stride

• Wirelessly transmits images and video clips

• Matrix advanced blur reduction enhancement

• 16:9 wide-image ratio frames large areas

• 720P HD video with audio in 5-180-second segments

Well, more negatives for Cuddeback.  Thank you, I will check the Skypoints.  I don't use AT&T, so the SteathCam is probably not an option for me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/17/2018 at 16:41
Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

Dan, have you also considered IP surveillance camera's?

Ubiquiti sells camera's and point to point access points that would allow you to created networks around your property to do this.

I don't know what kind of money you are willing to spend on this as you will likely need to put in some small solar arrays and some batteries to keep the access point and cameras powered, but the systems work pretty sweet. 

Each access point has two ports on them, one goes to the power and the other to the camera and the camera draws power from the access point.  And if you would want more than one camera per access point you should be able to hook up a couple with a small network switch. 

This way you could have live video pointing back to your house and be stored on a hard drive and be access by your phone from anywhere any time.  I have 6 of these cameras around my house and yard and they pretty neat.  They see into the night with infrared 30 feet of so and the new ones have 1080 video.  Mine are the older model 720p video and they are pretty nice.

I have had camera's up for 5 years or so and have not had one fail yet.  I have went through 4 of the point to point devices but they have been running for 10 years. 

Also with this you could put your home WiFi all around your property if you wanted.  


I have, in the past, considered the IP surveillance method.  Back when I took a serious look, the terrain/environment was not well suited for what I needed/need.  I will reassess. Thank you.
I had hoped that Cuddeback lived up to its advertised hype, though not surprised.  
I would definitely like to set up a system with solar recharging, a network I don't have to pay additionally for, notification when camera is activated, downloading to a single point without having to visit each site, large storage, long term reliability.  WIth today's technology, does not seem like too much to ask.  
Once again, thank you all.  Much appreciated... though you have dashed my hopes and sent me into a deep, possibly inconsolable depression...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/18/2018 at 10:31

Buddy, I sure wish I could give you a more optimistic outlook, but I've just had the most rotten luck with trail cameras in general that I'm too gun shy to buy a super expensive one with high tech features. It seems to me that those things rely too much on cheap "lowest bidder" electronic components to keep the price at a point that the average hunter will buy it, and they have too many avenues for failure. Expecting a delicate electronic device with IR sensors to perform autonomously long term, under constant power, out in the weather, with wide temp swings and constant UV exposure, and expecting a flimsy plastic outer case relying on a seal around a hinged opening, with clear plastic windows sealed with glue to completely protect the electronics within from moisture is a pretty tall order. Murphy's Law tells me that the more complex and high tech they get, the greater the chance that something will fail, and in my experience, Murphy was an optimist. Even if the camera is well-designed and fundamentally sound, I've had a few occasions where woodpeckers decided to poke a hole in the lens window, critters brush up against it and knock it on the ground, ants find a way into the case, etc. I would be worried about squirrels chewing on the antenna of the wireless link versions.

 

I'm of the opinion that most trail cameras suck, but since they are so useful when they actually work, I just try to minimize the suckitude by not investing a lot into them and managing my expectations. If any camera gives me 2 years of service, and does so with an investment of around $150-$200 max, I consider that a win any more. I don't even have high standards for function during its short lifespan. If the thing just takes good enough photos that I can evaluate the critters in the frame, that's all I expect. Just work. Unfortunately, too many of the ones I've owned failed to do the most basic functions they were designed to do for even 1 year.

 

I relegate trail cams in the same category as light bulbs and oil filters - disposable items that perform a valuable service during a relatively short lifespan, then are thrown away.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kickboxer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/18/2018 at 12:17
Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:

Buddy, I sure wish I could give you a more optimistic outlook, but I've just had the most rotten luck with trail cameras in general that I'm too gun shy to buy a super expensive one with high tech features. It seems to me that those things rely too much on cheap "lowest bidder" electronic components to keep the price at a point that the average hunter will buy it, and they have too many avenues for failure. Expecting a delicate electronic device with IR sensors to perform autonomously long term, under constant power, out in the weather, with wide temp swings and constant UV exposure, and expecting a flimsy plastic outer case relying on a seal around a hinged opening, with clear plastic windows sealed with glue to completely protect the electronics within from moisture is a pretty tall order. Murphy's Law tells me that the more complex and high tech they get, the greater the chance that something will fail, and in my experience, Murphy was an optimist. Even if the camera is well-designed and fundamentally sound, I've had a few occasions where woodpeckers decided to poke a hole in the lens window, critters brush up against it and knock it on the ground, ants find a way into the case, etc. I would be worried about squirrels chewing on the antenna of the wireless link versions.

 

I'm of the opinion that most trail cameras suck, but since they are so useful when they actually work, I just try to minimize the suckitude by not investing a lot into them and managing my expectations. If any camera gives me 2 years of service, and does so with an investment of around $150-$200 max, I consider that a win any more. I don't even have high standards for function during its short lifespan. If the thing just takes good enough photos that I can evaluate the critters in the frame, that's all I expect. Just work. Unfortunately, too many of the ones I've owned failed to do the most basic functions they were designed to do for even 1 year.

 

I relegate trail cams in the same category as light bulbs and oil filters - disposable items that perform a valuable service during a relatively short lifespan, then are thrown away.

Yeah, our IR security cameras at YPG are on the order of $10k each... a bit outside my budget.  I have never used expensive (I consider the Cuddebacks pretty expensive) trail cams... about $70.00 is the most I've ever spent on one.  I've used some more expensive ones, but... 
Back to the drawing board...
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