Cobble Hill BC Canada
Latitude: 48° 41' 20" N
As part of my Cobble Hill Weather Station Project I wanted to add a web cam to the system. My requirements were as follows:
The Video Equipment
A Cannon ES500 Video Camera was chosen as the video source, mainly because this camera was already available to me.
The Canon ES500 video camera is an 8mm analog video camera with a 12X power zoom. Since this camera was to be on 7/24, I removed the rechargeable battery and inserted an AC adaptor to provide the necessary power for full-time recording.
The camera's power adaptor was plugged into a 3-prong X10 appliance module (AM466) so that the camera hardware could be easily and simply controlled by the Home Automation server.
I mounted the camera onto a small, adjustable, aluminum tripod allowing me to easily position, aim and, focus the Weather Cam.
I wanted the camera side of my Weather Cam system to be easily relocated so I decided to use a wireless video sender to transmit the video stream from the camera to a wireless video receiver connected to the Weather Cam server. Although there are many of comparable products available from a number of manufacturers, I had already purchased a number of X10 XCam2 color wireless cameras, and so I chose to use X10 branded Video Sender/Receiver products.
Although the Canon ES500 has an audio-out jack the camera is located inside in my office meaning that there is no need to record audio. On the camera side, I chose to use a X10 VT32A small "Video-only Transmitter". The video-out jack from the Canon ES500 was connected to the video-in port on the VT32A using a standard RCA phono cable.
I mounted the VT32A high on the wall of my office allowing a cleaner, stronger signal to easily pass throughout the house.
To receive the wireless video signals at the Weather Cam server I chose to use the X10 VR36A, a "Video-Only Wireless Receiver". I connected the video-out from the VR36A to the RCA video-in port on the Weather Cam server's AV module using a standard RCA phono cable.
Computer Hardware and Software
Initially I set up the Weather Cam server on an Apple Macintosh 6100/60 AV with a 240MHz G3 upgrade card. Since I am already running a number of servers within the house (including several web servers, mail, streaming MP3, home automation, etc) I really wanted, if at all possible, to run the Weather Cam on one of my already existing servers.
With a little bit of juggling, a bit more RAM, and a bigger hard drive I was able to connect the X10 wireless video receiver to the computer that I am using as my home automation server.
This computer is a beige Apple Macintosh G3/300 AV MiniTower with 256 MB RAM, two hard drives (1.8GB and 4.0GB), and a Deltec UPS.
Applescript is used extensively on this server to manage home automation functions for the cobblehill.socialize.ca Home Automation Server, for the Cobble Hill Weather Station Project, and now for the Cobble Hill British Columbia Weather Cam.
The Apple Video Player software, designed for use with Macintosh AV hardware, is extensively Apple-scriptable making it a good choice for this particular application. Still cam images and movies can be triggered and saved to disk using simple Applescript commands.
I wrote routines to capture the current cam image, add a date/time label, and then to store the resulting jpeg picture into the correct directory on the cobblehill.socialize.ca web server. I also wrote code to move, rename, archive and delete the individual cam images. The most recent 15 images (75 minutes) are stored on the server for quick and easy viewing. Images older than 75 minutes are moved to a folder and stored until they needed to create the time-lapse movie for the day.
Each night, just after midnight, a time-lapse movie is created using all of the individual cam images from the previous day. These Quicktime time-lapse movies are stored for one week. Movies older than seven days are deleted to conserve free hard drive space.
Feedback, comments and suggestions are welcome. Contact Black Pearl Computing Ltd