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2014 Covert Code Black 3G Reviews and User Guide

This is more than a Covert Code Black Special Ops Review. This is a complete users guide that will take most of the pain out of the cellular setup of a really afforadable cellular trail camera. The table of contents below should make it easy to jump to a specific topic or you can read the whole review/guide from top to bottom.

Covert Code Black - sample picture
EXAMPLE – Covert Code Black picture that is sent via text or email and is lower resolution.

Quick Summary

I have recommended this camera to many close friends and family and none have been disappointed. Receiving instant email or text notifications from the trail cam is incredible.

Pros:

  • [custom_list style=”list-1″]
    • Small compact size
    • easy to configure the camera
    • simple operation
    • instant updates
    • saves gas
    • doesn’t spoke deer
    • reduces pressure on deer
    • decent battery life
    • Python lock slot integrated into case
    [/custom_list]

Cons:

[custom_list style=”list-2″]
  • Setting up accounts with AT&T sucks
  • The case seems cheap
  • Paint was spotty
  • some whiteout pictures (mostly resolved with firmware update August 2014)
[/custom_list]

Price: $359 and free shipping size
specs

The Covert Code Black was my first cellular trail camera. Being the first always comes with preconceived notions of fantastic results. To be honest my first experience with the trail camera was terrible. But this is not all the fault of Covert. The pictures are sent over AT&T cellular network and setting up these accounts is where most of the heartache originated.

Why I Bought The Covert Code Black

I decided I had to have a Code Black after my hunting partner told me I had to have one. The recommendation also came with a picture of a 130inch 8 point that Jody killed with the help of a Covert Scouting Camera. He used the text message pictures to remotely pattern the deer. The batchelor group of bucks was feeding in a soy bean field in mid September. Jody found where the bucks were entering the field and set up the camera.

Each evening the group entered the bean field just after dark in the evening. For several days Jody would be alerted just after legal shooting hours ended. Then one evening the group showed up a little early. Then the following eveing a little earlier.

This entire time, Jody remained out of the area to not risk spooking the deer. The most recent information provided by the camera let him know the deer where not visible during legal shooting hours.

After several days of monitoring, the deer finally showed up just at last light. The daily updates allowed Jody to pattern the batchelor group and he decided it was time to make his move. The next evening he was in his stand 3 hours before he expected to see movement. Just as expected, 15 minutes before last light the bucks popped out of the woodline. The big 8 point was the last buck in line and Jody made the shot.

When a trusted friend shares a story like this you just can’t help but follow his lead. I bought my Code Black directly from Covert but you can find them for $359 and free shipping ->HERE. We will talk more about the monthly AT&T cost later.

How Does It Work

camera —att —text —cell phone

Let’s take a quick time out from configurations and talk about delivery opitons. The 2014 Code Black can deliver trail camera pictures in email or text message. Notice I said OR. There is no longer the ability or option to transmit in both formats. The difference is simply in the ability to manage the pictures when they are received.

I spent some time thinking about the options and decided that email was the best option for me. Receiving emails enables you to set up a rule in your email client to filter the emails. This means that all emails from my hunting spot go directly to this folder and bypass my inbox. I won’t be bothered by constant vibrations from text messages and an email inbox with 75 emails everyday at daylight and dusk. I did some research and was unable to find any apps that would allow me to effectively manage this ammount of text messages.

[message type=”warning”]$ = text message delivery
$$ = email delivery[/message]

How Much Is This Going To Cost

You already spent $379 on the scouting camera so let’s talk about the cost of this email option. No reason to go any further in the configuration until we determine the carrier and the plan we are going to be using. If you just want text messages then you have taken the cheaper and easier route. The email option will also allow for both emails and texts and will cost more monthly….Unless you are an existing AT&T or TMobile Customer.

The text message plans are basically no contract and paid on a month to month basis. This makes it really easy to disable service when deer season is not in. AT&T offers a 1000 text plan for $9 a month. You can also upgrade to unlimited text/month for $19.99. If you are like me and prefer email then you are going to select the 300MB Family Share Data option. The basic plan is $20/month and an additional $20 per device.

2014 Covert Code Black Special Ops SetUp Guide

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Now let’s walk through the setup and instructions but don’t worry you won’t need the manual if you follow this guide.

covert code black camera menu

Battery Options

You have the option to use standard AA batteries or high performance rechargable AA batteries. Just be sure to set the selector switch above the battery compartment to the proper setting. It will hold 12 AA’s but you can get away with 8 AA to get the settings right.

SD Card is Mandantory

Be sure to get an SD before powering up the camera. You will not be able to access any options or the config menus unless the SD card is in the camera. I suggest using at least an 8GB card. If the card becomes full it will no longer take pictures and you will no longer receive text or emails. an 8GB card will hold approximately 4900 picture in 5MP mode.

Now that the batteries and SD card are in place you can slide the ON/Off switch to setup position. The lcd screen will be blue and offer only 4 tabs. I really like the simplistic approach. I found the menus to be in a logical order and very user friendly. The limited amount of options was not overwhelming at all. I also don’t feel that much was overlooked and it comes with all the options I use in my trail cams.

The picture of the Covert Code Black menu shows the 4 tabs. I provided a picture of each tab and the options found in each. CAM, NET, SYS…. Like I mentioned above the settings are really straight forward. You can view each setting in detail or skip and continue reading.

covert code black camera menu
covert code black pir menu
covert code black network menu
covert code black system menu

Use the direction keys to move to the right to the NET tab. Then scroll down to the download tool option. Select the OK and this will download the Covert UOV Setup tool to the SD. You can now remove the SD card and place it into a card reader.

Now back to the SD card. When I intially ran through this option it seemed very bothersome but then I realized it only has to be done one time and then you are good to go.

On your computer you will need to open the SD card. GSMSETUP will be the only zip file found on the card. Extract the OUV Setup file to your desktop. Run the UOV Setup program and plug in all your information. Don’t get too stressed out cause the whole process has several steps but each step is easy. Just stick with the guide and you’ll be ok. Just follow the guide in the video below.

The UOV

The UOV Setup is basically the master configuration for the Code Black. Here is a quick run down of what you can configure.

[custom_list]
  • Send Mode
  • Cellular Network
  • Camera Name
  • Sent Picture Size
  • SMS Control
  • Email and Phone Recipients.
    [/custom_list]

The only paramenters we are going to be concerned with are cellular network, SMS control and recipients. Please select the cellular provider you plan on using. There are only two options so I would pick the one with the best coverage in your hunting area. At this time you can only choose AT&T or T-Mobile.

Setting Up for Remote Control

You also need to enable SMS control switch on and set the master phone number. This master number should be your primary cell phone and the cell phone you plan on using to receive the pictures and control the trail cams.

Saving The Bin File

After you have made you setting selections you need to save the profile file. Near the bottome of the UOV please select the button to the right of the file path. This will be the location where the profile is saved. I normally just save to my desktop.(see example below)

The next step is pretty easy. Go back to the file explorer showing the contents of the SD card. Drag(copy and paste) the profile you just created to the root folder of the SD card. That’s it. Now remove the SD card from the computer/card reader.

Be sure the Code Black Special Ops is powered off and reinsert the SD card. Be patient when you turn the camera to the setup position. After a short wait(20 seconds) you should see a blue screen announcment that changes accepted. The master configuration you just created has now be copied and accepted to the trail camera.

The next part is the fun part. Well at least for you it will be fun. For me was several hours of hell.

What Do I Do At The AT&T Store?

Don’t go running off to the store just yet. Print this cheat sheet for the AT&T guys. Believe me, you have a 90% chance of being assisted by a person that has never heard of a trail camera and has no idea how to set up your SIM card. The most important thing to remember is your plan should be based upon a BASIC PHONE. The camera should never be set up as a smartphone.

If they MUST HAVE an IMEI then tell them to use 999999999999999 (15-9’s)

Ask the clerk if they have a gophone in the store
they need a phone to text your SIM card
Ask to be set up on the GoPhone 1000 text
The plan will be set up and a standard sim card should be set up for a BASIC phone
Request the SIM card be placed in the gophone so a test text message can be sent
If the message is successful remove the SIM from the phone
Make sure the Code Black is powered off and insert the SIM
Move the on switch to setup and be patient(30 seconds) while it initializes
You should now see ATT in the upper right hand corner of the lcd screen
Press the camera button and take a picture
Press the play arrow and you should see the picture you just took
Press the menu button and select send test image

Ask the clerk if they have a gophone in the store
they need a phone to text your SIM card
Ask to be set up on Bring your own device data plan
The plan will be set up and a standard sim card should be set up for a BASIC phone
Request the SIM card be placed in the gophone so a test text message can be sent
If the message is successful remove the SIM from the phone
Make sure the Code Black is powered off and insert the SIM
Move the on switch to setup and be patient(30 seconds) while it initializes
You should now see ATT in the upper right hand corner of the lcd screen
Press the camera button and take a picture
Press the play arrow and you should see the picture you just took
Press the menu button and select send test image

SENT SUCCESSFULLY!

Give the clerk a big high five and head for the house. The hard part is all behind you. Now you can tweak the rest of the settings to your liking. Just remember that it takes many seconds to send a picture from the camera. For this reason lowest interval allowed when using cellular mode is 1 minute.

The cellular equipment requires more room so the Code Black is probably considered a medium size trail camera. Measuring is anything but large but it is still larger than the MP6. Weight is no problem and the provided webbing held it easily on a small oak tree overlooking my barrel deer feeder. One feature I really like is the Master Lock Python Cable slot that is built into the case.

The case comes is Mossy Oak and blended nicely on the oaks and Pine trees on my hunting lease. I did notice several areas of the case that had paint spots missing but it was not that big of a deal. The antenna is the only thing that is not camo and stands out.

After you have strapped and locked on the tree you can go over the configs one last time. Be sure to check the time and also make sure the flash is set properly. I also like to send a test message once again just to confirm the signal is strong enough. You can now flip the on switch all the way to the right.

A Trail Camera on Remote Control

SMS control is an awesome feature that is unique to cellalar trail cameras. Sending a coded text to the camera from the master cell phone will actually control the camera remotely. A complete list of codes and the results are found below.

[message type=”info”]Set to Picture Mode: #310#P#
Set to Video Mode: #310#V#
Set Daily Report: #100#dr#hh#mm#
Send to Phone: #102#phone#
Send to Email: #102#email#
PIR ON: #320#on#
PIR OFF: #320#off#
Aquire Picture: #500#
Location: #510#
Turn MMS On: #200#ON#
Turn MMS Off: #200#OFF#
Set Instant Mode: #100#i#0#(0-99)
ADD Phone Number: #140#1#phonenumber# (11 digits)
Delete Phone Number: #140#0#phonenumber# ( 11 digits)
ADD Email Address: #141#1#email address#
Delete Email Address: #141#0#email address#[/message]

Taking another Test Picture
The final test before leaving the area is taking one final test picture. Sending text message #500# to the trail camera will instruct it to take a picture and send it to your email or phone. Make sure the camera height is set properly and the field of view is good.

Trigger speed
Baiting is legal in my state so I have been placing my Code Black over food sources and deer feeders.

How is the Picture Quality

Initially I was very disappointed with the Code Black pictures. The main issue was whiteout at dawn and dusk. The support folks at Covert let me know they were aware of the issue and were working on a firmware upgrade. Lucky for all owners the firmware upgrade was released in late July and it resolved the problem. Dusk and dawn photos can now be seen in much better gray scale quality.

[message type=”simple”]REMEMBER – Pictures that are transmitted from the camera are low resolution. The full resolution image is stored on the SD card.[/message]

Quick tips
in cellular mode shortest interval is 1 minute

all configs are lost when all batteries are removed

try replacing batteries two at a time so configs are not lost

Keep the profile.bin handy because you will need it if batteries die

About Jeff

Deer hunting is a great sport and is one of my passions. Between September and January you will probably find me in a treestand with bow in hand. My hope with this site is to share my experience to help you have a more successful and enjoyable deer hunt.

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6 comments

  1. How long does the camera last in the field before needing a fresh set of batteries? Ball park figure. Thanks!

    • Chris
      The AT&T signal strength is about 2-3 bars in my area so it is kinda weak. We set ours to take pics every 1 minute and transmit immediately. We are typically seeing a little over 3 weeks on a set of batteries. We are only an hour away from the deer lease so we don’t use the external battery pack.

      hope this helps
      Jeff

  2. do they make a solar charger for this camera? Or a heavy duty metal security box?

  3. I bought four of these in the summer thinking they were the best thing since sliced bread. Boy was I wrong. Things started out ok but have gone down rapidly. I have done all the updates and everything they recommended and there are still issues. I had the IT guys at my firm helping out and there are still problems. Just put them back out yesterday after jumping through all the hoops and less than 24 hours later they have totally stopped responding or sending pictures. And I KNOW there should be some.!!! Plenty of bars and power as I have an external battery. Do not buy this product until they can guarantee all the bugs are fixed. I am so frustrated I am to the point of using them to sight in my new muzzleloader. For the money, time, and effort put into these cameras I would expect more.

    • Had some trouble with mine, especially at the beginning, mainly with AT&T go phone account. (Some AT&T people are clueless) Finally got it straightened out. I still have to call them every month, they dont have an auto fill for the 9.99 a month text package. Also I have been testing all year, around my house, and have found, when I use the #200#off# and #200#on# (turning off & on the network) I often have to mess with the camera, so it will start working again. But when I put it out in the field, I wont be using this function hardly at all. It does take very clear pictures, and text me, within a 60 to 90 seconds after taking pic. I really think if you get the camera working right and dont mess with it too much, other than #500# (taking a pic, to make sure it is still working), its a real good camera.

      PS…..I bought the cord to hook up to a 12 volt battery around my house, (2 months ago) and still showing full battery, after taking 20 to 30 pics a day…Got tired of buying double A’s….lol

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