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Setting up a live web cam for a building site

Posted on 2011-03-21
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I need to setting up a live web cam for a construction site.  The web cam will serve two purposes:

1)      provide a live feed that will plug into a website for the general public;
2)      allow me to, on a daily basis, capture a short video that ultimately will be used to create a HD-quality time-lapse video of the whole construction

The hardware needs to be weather proof for exterior mounting.  It can be placed on the roof of an existing building overlooking the immediately adjacent construction site.   Range from mounting location to the far side of the construction site would be approx. 150 feet.  Remote pan/tilt/zoom is preferred.

Video quality is very important.  Here is an example of an existing such web cam we want to implement:  http://ascendio.com/fbd/Webcam.aspx (First Baptist Church of Dallas) without hiring an outside consultant.  

I understand there are two schools of thought.  One would be a basic IP camera with capture software on a PC.   Perhaps this camera would work in this situation (Sony Vivotek PZ7111):  http://www.amazon.com/Vivotek-PZ7111-Network-camera-optical/dp/tech-data/B003JET2PI
The other thought would be a security-style camera hooked into a DVR:  Perhaps something like this:  http://www.altex.com/6-High-Resolution-Color-Speed-Dome-PTZ-Camera-CD55NV-36S-P148395.aspx .

I’d like to link the live video feed to our website with our using a third-party provider.  We can give it a dedicated external IP address if necessary.

Please let you know your thoughts/suggestions on hardware and implementation strategy.
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Question by:dparkerdfw
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4 Comments
 
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

by:DrDamnit
DrDamnit earned 300 total points
ID: 35188410
For what you want to do, I think that a camera system from these guys is probably the way to go:

http://cgi.ebay.com/4-CH-CCTV-Security-DVR-Outdoor-Camera-System-/180625282394?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a0e1b155a#ht_5242wt_1139

It appears to fulfill all your requirements:

1. It records high quality video to a DVR, whcih you can later edit to do your time lapse.
2. It is an outdoor system, so .... weatherproof
3. The ones in the link don't have PTZ (Pan tilt zoom), but I am sure they will sell you one or substitute. Just contact the seller.
4. It does live streaming. They show that you can even get it on the phone if you want. So, if you can see it on the phone, I guarantee you can get it integrated into the website.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
ID: 35188710
dparkerdfw,

What you haven't told us is anything about the power and internet access you have at your camera mounting location. These will make a difference.

Overall, my experience has been that you need a heavy-duty high quality camera for applications like this. Nothing else will last for long enough in changing weather conditions on or adjacent to a construction site. I'd take a look at some of the cameras here: http://www.networkwebcams.com/index.php?cPath=31 

If you like the example that you've given, you might want to talk directly to the company that supports it: Earthcam, Inc (http://www.earthcam.net/).

Cheers,
LHerrou
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Author Comment

by:dparkerdfw
ID: 35188754
DrDamnIt & LHerrou,
Thank you for your input.  Power and internet are not an issue. We can run whatever may be necessary.  Internet access is 25/25 via Verizon FIOS in the building where the cam is to be mounted.

Some changes to the specs:
1) I'm considering a non-PTZ camera.  After more research, some colleagues caution me that PTZ cameras don't always return to their exact preset positions, creating a jumping effect with time-lapse sequences;

2) Rather than capturing a short video clip, a simple static snap-shot twice a day will suffice.  This may alleviate the need for a DVR.

dparkerdfw
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LVL 38

Accepted Solution

by:
lherrou earned 700 total points
ID: 35188895
I'd still go with a heavy-duty outdoor camera, though. The cheaper cameras typically use plastic lenses and you can get temperature-related distortion and even discoloration over the time scale of a construction job. Personally, I'd lean towards a IP camera, preferably one that comes with software designed for the task - something like this one by Sony: http://www.networkwebcams.com/product_info.php?cPath=30&products_id=490

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