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davej

Webcam?

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I am interested in getting a webcam working on my home computer and then writing some code to upload periodic images to my webpage. Has anyone here done that? I wish I could just get a camera and USB driver and write the rest of the code, but I'm afraid I will get stuck using some absurd "do-everything" software-bundle that comes with the camera. Ideally the camera would be located outdoors, however that creates several issues since USB is limited to a few meters of length and CCTV type cameras have lower resolution. I don't trust wireless. Opinions? Thanks.

Edited by davej

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Most cameras simply don't offer the software, as manufacturers want to price you differently based on your needs.The best you can do is get a USB camera (or any "webcam" compatible camera), and use a custom desktop application that does whatever you want it to do by hooking into Windows APIs. An easier solution is to use Flash/ActionScript with that same hardware. The app will have to be kept open in a window to work though.

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There are a variety of low-cost webcams but they are all intended for indoor desktop use. I'm sure the included software bundle is probably aimed at voip video-phone and YouTube. The CCTV video cameras can feed 100ft+ cables but need a video grabber/converter and are limited to 420 line television resolution. Maybe I should experiment with one of each? I'm not familiar with Flash/Actionscript. Another thought: inexpensive USB extenders claim to be able to support 100ft+ using Cat5 cable.

Edited by davej

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USB is totally inappropriate above 5m, even with the most solid of extenders.CCTV cameras are typically closed source and there's no standardized API you can access one from.If you are to do anything custom with a camera, you'll have to get acquainted with ActionScript or some appropriate Windows APIs. There's no way around that.There are "IP camera"s that can send period images to an FTP location though... maybe that would be the best solution. Not all software bundles support this though. Online stores typically don't tell if such a feature is supported or not. You might want to get into a physical store, and ask about each IP camera model.

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Have a look for a network ip camera, these can operate through your network to gain access through internet, but you really require a fixed ip address, or you would have to register and setup a account with a company such as www.dyndns.com, where basically they set you up with a domain name address to your camera, which will be checked periodically to see if the dynamic ip address has changed from your ISP, and then update it to your camera domain, I think there was a free version, where you just have to login every 30days or so. There also are wireless ip network cameras, where you only require access to power supply where you place the camera, this obviously requires wireless router.

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Have a look for a network ip camera, these can operate through your network to gain access through internet, but you really require a fixed ip address, or you would have to register and setup a account with a company such as www.dyndns.com...
The ip camera is probably the ideal solution -- but they are all much more expensive and add network issues which can really be a problem on a home network.

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Network issues are part of the game. If your home network is down, you wouldn't be able to send anything to the website, even if the camera was connected directly at your home computer.As for them being expensive... most are not more expensive than a CCTV camera + controller combo. Plus, if you want decent quality, you'll have to pay for it. You can't have both quality and cheapness. Something has to give. You're starting to remind me of some customers at the computer shop I work at:

I want a PC that is decent, but cheap enough.... $100 or less... nothing special... I just want to watch

HD

movies, chat at Skype and store all of my

Hi-res and GBs in

pictures... oh, and if we can fit a

17" wide

monitor in that budget, it would be nice

Can you see the problem here?

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Well, I can see that, but for a proof-of-concept programming exercise I wanted to write code that would provide automatic file transfers between a webpage and a home pc. The ip cameras seem appealing but are totally independent of the home pc and some of them seem to include complete software solutions (with bugs included). I want to also get other info from the pc -- such as discrete data (i.e. is the garage door open or closed, etc...).

Edited by davej

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Generating a file and uploading it are two different tasks... uploading is easy.If the camera is going to be on a computer, it must be near the computer. That's non negotiable... there simply isn't a stable way to have a "web camera" far far away. And if the camera is an IP camera, it will by virtue of being an independent device, have its own software included. Theoretically, if you were hacker enough, you could replace its firmware with your own (I've seen this done with home routers), but if you're that much of a hardcore hacker, you might as well go work at the camera manufacturer's HQ and pitch your idea to them, so that mere mortals don't have to over this heroic deed.For gathering other arbitrary data, whether it's discrete or analog, Arduino is a nice platform to create and program a controller in. How exactly are you going to connect the sensors to the board, I'm not sure... that's a hardware issue.For minimum hassle, I'd invest in a cheap PC to attach a web camera to, and place any software on that computer, along with sensors and everything.

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Generating a file and uploading it are two different tasks... uploading is easy.[...]For gathering other arbitrary data, whether it's discrete or analog, Arduino is a nice platform to create and program a controller in. How exactly are you going to connect the sensors to the board, I'm not sure... that's a hardware issue.
Well, I want to learn about the communication options that are available between a program running on a home pc and a webpage. I would like to have them pinging each other periodically with data requests and transfers possible in both directions. (my webpage does not have a fixed IP and of course neither does my cable modem) For the data interface I hope to use something that I happened to purchase recently: http://www.mccdaq.co...208-Series.aspx Edited by davej

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