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Webcam with a very long cable

Posted on 2004-09-19
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Last Modified: 2013-11-08
Hi friends,
I would connect a webcam to a notebook with a very long cable (up to 150/200 meters). Is it possible ? What are the problems that arise with a so long connection ? Is there an alternative solution (cheap please !!) ?

The aim of this long distance connection is monitoring some colonial nesting birds without disturbing them...

Thanks for any useful suggestion.
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Question by:dmarco
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22 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:deepthiji
ID: 12096362
i assume your webcam is connected to USB port,, if this is the case the maximum length of a USB cable is- 5 Meter max
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:deepthiji
ID: 12096394
Also check this forum  http://www.everythingusb.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=804

 same issue there , please check that...
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:icedrop-dcse
ID: 12097805
why not try something with wireless point to point communication. webcam with only a shot type of cable connected to a transmitter pointing directly to a reciever. i'm not really sure on how you go about this setup but ive seen some people do this but with less nobler reasons in mind. ;)
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Expert Comment

by:icedrop-dcse
ID: 12097814
erratum... short type of cable .. not shot.. typo sorry
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:tosh9iii
ID: 12097878
icedrop-dcse , I'm curious, how far do wireless webcams work.  I tried looking up the specs, faqs, and other things, but none of them stated how far wireless webcams would work.
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Expert Comment

by:nostrox
ID: 12098086
USB Cables have a maximum length of 5 Metres but you could use USB hubs to chain the cable which would give you the length you are looking for.
Alternatively D-link do a range of wireless webcams with additional antennas to give you the range you require specifically for outdoor use.
Checkout http://www.dlink.com/products/category.asp?cid=60 for more details.
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Expert Comment

by:icedrop-dcse
ID: 12098345
i dont have much of an idea but i think fairly enough its above 100feet. because thats what i saw them doing. webcam with about 4 meters of cable running to a device with a directional dish on it. then they have a reciever dish about 100feet away and hooked up to a laptop. they must have line of sight with the transmitter dish. they were babe watching and the clarity was good but not all that clear since the webcam they used had only a limited capability for zoom.

you can also try other things i believe that radioshack has some things regarding video security cameras that have longer wires or wireless communication capability.
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LVL 69

Assisted Solution

by:Callandor
Callandor earned 400 total points
ID: 12098854
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:public
ID: 12106294
You can buy an ethernet webcam for about $100 from Dlink, Linksys. Max etherner run is about 300 ft. 150 m might work, you may need a hub half way.
For a little more, about $150 you can get a wifi version of the same. With the right antennas record link of 55 miles has been demonstrated.
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Author Comment

by:dmarco
ID: 12107060
Thanks for all the suggestions

I'll check the links ...
-----------------------------------------------------
to public,

It is interesting your alternative suggestion of a webcam linked to a wifi Lan. Can you explain better your idea ?
Where could I get it ?
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 12108539
The smarthome link I provided is an 802.11b camera.
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LVL 2

Author Comment

by:dmarco
ID: 12116710
If I have understood correctly, there are two kinds of wireless possible solutions:
- the D-Link (or smarthome) devices which can be connected to a wireless access point and then to a computer
- the X10.com devices which can be linked directly to a PC via Video Receiver and USB Video Capture adapter (with the appropriate software).

The second solution seems to me the most interesting (and at affordable prices). But...there is a problem: the birds I want to monitor nest in a wood (that is flooded for about six months). The idea is to place the cam in the wood before it is flooded and then, after a period of about 3 months (at the beginning of the reproductive season), start recording and monitoring the colony.
Of course the problem is the power supply of  the cam. I believe that no battery can be still alive after three months when left outside; and if ever it would be alive, probably it could work only for a few hours....
Probably it is evident that I can't have an AC power supply in the (flooded) wood: normally the trees don't have any socket outlet..

Any idea to solve this problem ?
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:public
ID: 12117327
A solar cell panel? A long low voltage power cable? At 12V safety is not an issue.
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 12118366
And if you use a whopping big battery like a car battery and shield it from the elements, the small drain of a camera may not totally drain it for a long time.  You will have to test it out to see.  I have not been satisfied with the resolution of the X-10 cameras, so if you need clarity, you will have to consider that.
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LVL 2

Author Comment

by:dmarco
ID: 12127736
To Callandor,

A car battery could retain some power also after a long period (this should be tested first, of course). The major drawback of this idea is that the cam needs a right electrical intensity in mA, not only the right voltage.
Therefore I should have a circuitry to transform the output of the car battery into the correct output needed for the cam. I believe that this isn't an easy task and I have no idea as to do it.
Regarding the X-cam quality, I realized that this is not a Zeiss like optical device...Our goal is to spot eggs into the nests and to detect (count) young birds, which have a black bill while adults have a bright yellow bill.
Maybe X-cam might be enough. If you have already used this product, tell me what do you think about.
D-link products seemed me a little bit better, but they are 4/5 folds more expensive.

To public,

solar cell panel: appealing solution! But there is the same problem as with the car battery. You have to match the electrical output of the cell with the input needed by the cam (supposing that the current produced by the solar panel is always constant... is it ? I don't know). However I don't know how to solve this problem.

A long low voltage power cable: probably this the relatively less difficult solution. There is a last obstacle to overcome: if I apply the right DC power and intensity to the cable (say with 4 AA batteries, as described by the manifacturer), I know that DC power/intensity decrease increasing the lenght of the cable. This decrease is also an inverse function of the cable size: the higher the size, the lower the power loss. One must calculate the optimal (minimum) size of the cable of a certain lenght that allows the cam work... Can you help me ?
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LVL 12

Accepted Solution

by:
public earned 400 total points
ID: 12128131
The Dlink DCS900W has been on sale for as little as $99.

As far as the power cable:
Assume that #20 gauge is used, 500m long, or 1km total wire length.
This gives about 34 Ohms
http://www.cirris.com/testing/resistance/wirecalc.html
Assuming the camera uses 0.25A, there will be 8V drop accross the cable.
You will probably need a regulator at the camera end. A good solution would be to apply 24V to the cable, and on the far end use a DC/DC converter with 12-36V input and output matching the camera. Put this in a water tight box and you are good to go. Surplus converter will be about $5.
If the cable is only 150m the drop will be about a third, and no regulator may be needed.
You can also use a say #16  wire for about 3V drop for 1 km at 0.25A, or 1V drop at 300m.
0
 

Expert Comment

by:nostrox
ID: 12128214
Hi regarding solar panels - they would not provide the current directly but would charge the battery that you use to power the cam.
Here is an interesting link on solar power http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/yago72.html
this company provide lots of solar panels etc as well as solar battery chargers
http://kingsolar.com/catalog/dept/photovoltaic/index-av.html
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

by:Callandor
ID: 12139918
I don't think current is an issue - the voltage is the key.  I have driven many low current 12v devices from a car battery.  The device will only take as much current as it needs.  Basic electrical theory says if a device has a high resistance, the current flow will be small, given a constant voltage.
0
 
LVL 2

Author Comment

by:dmarco
ID: 12147233
I believe that the long wire solution is the best and cheapest one.  
The D-link cameras aren't very expensive, but I must buy also the wireless access point, that has to be connected to the portable computer. This increases the total price.

to public,

I need to clarify two last points: when you write <<#20>> , does this mean wire size ? (diameter? in millimeters or other?).
I have estimated a maximum lenght of this cable = 200 m.
Do you think that might be enough a four battery voltage(6 V. - the normal power supply required by X-10cam)  at one end of the cable to get a sufficient power at the other end ? or should I have to increase the voltage ? how much?

to Callandor,

can you tell me something more about X10Cam ?

0
 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:public
ID: 12147832
#20 means AWG 20, a US industry standard wire gauge.
Use the online calculator to size the cable.
http://www.cirris.com/testing/resistance/wirecalc.html
0
 
LVL 2

Author Comment

by:dmarco
ID: 12165057
I'll split points between public an Callandor, for the best assistance to this question.

However, thanks to all contributors.
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