Solar powered, wireless webcam

Everybody loves their webcams (though the surveillance aspects of some are to be worried about.)

What about a way to make them cheap and easy to put in cool places. Combine a webcam with a solar panel, 802.11 link and small bettery. The webcam charges the battery off the panel, and when there is enough charge to take a picture, it takes one and spits it out the wireless link. You don't need much of a battery or much of a solar panel, because the amount of power simply controls how often it can take a picture.

When the sunlight is bright, it's taking pictures frequently. When it's cloudy, they are less frequent. When it's dark, it's not taking them at all. (Though a unit with larger battery could do even this.)

These devices could easily be stuck on mountaintops, antenna towers, roofs etc. The only issue -- keeping the lens clean. Possibly a wiper (fired when blur is detected or manually) or occasional service. A little protection from the rain and wind for the lens of course.

And now that megapixel sensors are so cheap, why not produce a 1280x720 HDTV image, which people can stick on their new plasma screens on the walls, sampling images of the world?

Brad,

I want to install a wireless solar web cam to monitor a wildlife area in Griffith Park (Los Angeles), and stream the data to the internet. Can you help me with the configuration?
How does the system you describe attach to the internet??

Thanks for you help.

bird feeder cam

i have a iBook G4 and want to view my feeder on the internet. what do i need?

willldlife observation

brad, I'm looking for a system, wireless, solar powered,range camera to computer +/- 400 feet, camera and solar panel mounted on a pole over the watera

wht would you recomend

thank you

solar powered wireless networking/camera solution

A company called Lumin can solve this problem for you. www.LuminIP.com
They have a solar power management product with SNMP and built in UPS that you can set up as a permanent, mobile or temporarily deployed networking solution anywhere you have a power constraint or just like the economic benefit of a solar energy source.
The info on their website is outdated but fill out the contact page and get in touch with them if you have not found a solution.

Hello Brad Templeton,
The solar web cam sounds wild yet doable. But is it really (doable) I do some programming and 360 photography myself. I tried the monster on your home page because it was so freaking big and a challenge. It aint no virtual tour... only 586 kb...it's tight.... If you want me to lose it just say the word but I think it's cool. What do you think?
http://pacificsun1.bravepages.com/Templeton.html
Robert@iprimus.com

check out this solar powered wireless web cam:
http://www.whistlerlivewebcams.com/Sproatt/

Good idea

I'm about to put up a purple martin condo - there's a huge central air vent. If I had thought about it hard enough, it would have been cool to put a wireless/solar security cam into the airvent and made clear walls to all of the compartments. I've just been looking around for something small that I could stick into each compartment instead. Cost and power options make this prohibitive. Ah, well next time.

So to the list of features, need the ability to swivel and focus - as well as wireless and solar. Size is an issue. (My "huge" air vent is 8"x8"x16"ish.)

Wireless wildlife camera out of the box

Brad,

They have a commercial version of a wireless wildlife cam you described above. I think they call it a wireless digital deer camera. Even though it was designed for hunting I beleive it would work great for your application. Basically you can set up a fully enclosed wireless camera complete with infared flash and solar trickle charger and it transmits the images taken via high gain antennas up to 10 miles back to your pc or base unit. I think they even have the software to upload the images to a web page. The site I found the info on is http://www.hunting-cams.com.

If nothing else it is worth a look maybe you will get some ideas for your own design.

Good luck. I enjoyed reading your site.

Regards,

Jon Ballard

Solar webcam

I looked into building a solar network camera sometime ago, and came up with a simple solution. I have several Heath-Zenith SL-7001 solar-powered outdoor security lights, which have a rechargeable 6VDC battery inside. The Linksys WVC54GC wireless-g network video camera I purchased requires 5VDC to operate. Wire the camera into the security light battery, and viola - you've got a solar-powered wireless network security camera with a motion activated light for night time surveillance. I haven't tried it just yet, but it should work. Unless the camera drains the battery too fast. The battery is rated at 6Ah, the bulb is 20watts, and the camera is 10watts. I'm not sure how long the battery would last at night with the camera connected.

Even more compelling argument

What no one is saying (and everybody knows) is, if I can get 120VAC to the “Wireless” web-cam then I can get a 100bT connection to it as well. So, how can they say it is wireless? It is not, until the power line is cut.

WebCamInTheWoods

Solar powered web cam

Can a wireless edmini webcam be powered by a small solar panel and be access via WiFi?

jim

wireless webcam

I am looking for a wireless webcam so I can watch my purple martins. I would like to have one that I can mount on the lid of a supergourd. I would like live high resolution color and sound video. Do you have any suggestions? If so, I would appreciate any help you could give. Thanks, Lillian

Here is a solution

Check this out http://digitalxtractions.net/faces/Page1.jsp It is a little pricey and there is a monthly fee but it would work anywhere there is cell coverage.

I made one of these!

Good article - I've actually built something similar as a hobby project, but using 3G wireless as its in a remote(-ish) location - it does what you decribe - plenty of photos on sunny days, not so many in the cloud and rain, which gives the whole system a nice organic feel. I've written about it here http://geekinafield.blogspot.com/2009/01/fieldcam.html - but am happy to answer any questions...

Cheers,
Iain

Instead of a battery

I had always imagined using capacitors. You can pick up a 2 farad, 20 volt capacitor for about $30, they sell them for car audio power boosts.

The question is how many watts your system needs, and how long it takes to power on and get a photo sent. A lot of cell phones only pull about 2 watts, which that capacitor can deliver for 20 seconds to full drain. Of course the voltage drops as it goes down so you have to send it through a buck/boost converter to deliver the voltage the cell phone needs internally.

But instead of a webcam and a 3g modem and router, why not just get any old cell phone with a decent camera in it? It would take a very small solar panel to keep a cell phone permanently powered, using the battery in the cell phone — no need for the extra lead-acid.

Then write software for the cell phone to snap a photo and send it and then shut down the network connection to conserve power.

As I said, since cell phones need such little power, a decent panel would just keep it always on. However, I bet that you can access the cell phone’s battery voltage from software in a lot of phones (after all they have a battery status app so there is an API for it) and you could use that to decide how often to take photos, and of course inherently know to take fewer at night.

If the voltage gets too low, the phone will turn itself off, though, and that’s where you would need something to “push” the on button once it gets better.

I don’t know if any cell phones have a way to go into super-sleep with a clock based wakeup, but if they did, you could use that.

The great thing about cell phones is that 2 year old cell phones are close to free, people are throwing them away for a new one.

m-shell can do it

Brad,

I am close to being able to do what you describe in this last post. I know how to send an sms to a (symbian-based) cell that will take a picture and send it back (as mms). The needed software is based on m-shell, see http://www.m-shell.net, and the code is similar to that found here: http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/forum/showthread.php?t=66659

Since m-shell allows to activate a script through sms, I have all that is needed.

However, the problem (that you mention) af having the cell always on still remains.
That's where I am stuck. Using solar power is OK, but I would like to put the cell taking pictures in an area where it might be raining for several days. Is there any way to automatically switch on a cell phone when a battery (maybe an external battery) is sufficiently charged?

Thanks.

iPhone Webcam - Winterized

I think stupid stuff all of the time... thats why having a workshop is so important.

As a web developer and bash script experience, I'm thinking about doing this with an old 2G iphone using a bash script to execute the command to take a camera snapshot every 10 minutes ---> scp to my production servers over Edge/3G... then write a quick web app using my framework and set up users to view latest and archived snapshots..

As far as power goes, it pulls very little.. and the screen will be off, so I expect any solar solution to keep it charged.
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-solar-iPodiPhone-charger-a...

I would probably build some type of grey or camo wood or metal box with some flame retardant insulation it it for winter and a 1x1 plexiglass window for the camera to peek out of. Mount it to a tree facing at the river.. maybe high up so you need a ladder.. once I know it works... Hah...

Snow? If I can position it right so the wind works to my advantage to keep snow off of the lens I'll be golden. The solor panel should keep snow off with heat.. or so I hear.

The reason I say iphone is simply because its the only real device with a camera that I can SSH into, setup Bash and have it SCP to a webserver over wireless network.

Even better, I can SSH into the iPhone from the truck nearby (or home) with my macbook/iphone using a DynDNS client.. unless it died or locked up.

Now only if there way a way to justify the monthly wireless fees? Possibly add it as a device to use my lot of allowance thru the phone I keep in my pocket?

Maybe I'll have a few fisherman chip and I'll built it. I could probably do it in a weekend.

I just hope no one steals it! I'll still force myself to get out and check out nature and the river.. but I have to say, it seems more "GREEN" than burning fuel for a drive.

If anyone wants links or more info, i'll dig them out.

Solar powered, wireless webcam

Try CHDK - Canon Hackers Development Kit. This is the method used to snap pictures every n minutes from balloons and model planets, even rockets. I haven't researched the power requirements for a cheap camera though...

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