How much would a wildlife webcam be to set up? Ballpark?

I would like to set up a streaming webcam for an outside area near my office, it is right on the ocean, and has a wonderful view of a bay near my work where a lot of rare and annual waterfowl come to roost.

How much would the hardware and streaming video cost? Initial cost only, monthly cost is not an issue.

Mangetout should be able to help with this. He set one up in a bird house. It was really fun to watch the progress of the nesting process. I think it was still photos. I have emailed him about this thread.

What kind of quality are you looking for with the setup?

Assuming you already have a computer, you can do it for $29.95, or whatever the going rate is for those cheapo webcams.

However, if you are thinking of a quality web camera, complete with a built-in server, you can do it for less than $1,000.

A webcam with a built in server??? huh???

I was looking for quality, but decently economical. We have a server here at work…can’t we run it off that? I was thinking cost for the hardware then extra bandwidth on the website…

If the webcam is connected directly to your computer, then cost is the webcam itself. Spending more like $80 will get you much better quality than spending $30. Tom’s Hardware did a webcam comparison not too long ago that you can find by searching the site. The cam will come with the software you need.

If the webcam needs to be out in the weather and wireless, it gets a lot more expensive and tricky.

One of my hard-core computer magazines did some thorough testing of outdoor web cams a couple of months ago. Unfortunatley I don’t have it here but I do remember the range for quality outdoor cameras including some with a built-in server were about $100 - $300. Those were security grade ones and designed to be a permanent solution. I remember that they didn’t like the Linksys model but D-Link had their best pick.

I’ll be watching the response to this, because I’ve wanted to set up one for half a year now, on the grape arbor next to the feeder for winter, and maybe at other stuff when the garden is going. It has to withstand the weather, so I know I can’t just get a cheap one for by the computer. I won’t be stream it out to the world just the home.

Mangetout’s little project sounds interesting.

Does your computer mag have a link? I bet I could find it on Consumer Reports…maybe.

Wildlife webcam? $1000. Ballpark? Several million bucks, at least.

I will look too see which one it is in when I get home and I can tell you the models of the highly rated ones.

Thanks a lot shag

Phlosphr, check your private messages. :smiley:

Reading lame but mildly humorous jokes on the SDMB all day? Priceless.

I set up a very low-budget nest box webcam in my garden (link in sig) - it’s active at the moment and there is a pair of birds going in and out during the day, but not properly nesting yet.

There are lots of different ways you can do this, I chose to use a cheap USB webcam, which I removed from its casing and fixed inside a waterproof with a clear plastic window. USB only has a max cable length of something like 5 metres, so I added a pair of transcievers which extend the connection over standard ethernet cabling for up to 50 metres. Illumination inside the nest box at night is provided by two infrared LEDs that I pulled out of scrap TV remote controls and connected (with appropriate resistors) to the USB power.
The box itself is just made from scrap softwood, untreated on the inside.
The cable runs from the nestbox (which is located high in an oak tree), along a fence and into the house and there’s an old laptop that captures the pictures and uploads them to the web once a minute.

My solution is probably about as cheap as you can go, and it sort of shows in the quality of the pictures, but still, it was absolutely fascinating to watch the whole process of nest building, then watch the eggs appearing and hatching and the chicks developing and, one by one, leaving the nest. I regret not opening the box over the winter to clean the lens - it’s still working, but the picture quality is degraded this year.

There are other ways to do this though - you can get web-ready all-in-one streaming webcams that you just point your browser at, or you can use proper video cameras and a TV capture card (this tends to be best in terms of image quality). I’m told that the waterproof housing I made for my camera is completely over the top - many people just mount the camera inside the roof of the box with little more protection than the roof and a false ceiling.

It sounds like you’re wanting to stream the video at some kind of decent frame rate, rather than the measly one-per-minute that I’ve settled for - and this is possible… I’m trying to find the site of a guy who has multiple cameras - some of them inside next boxes and others outside pointing at feeding areas and the outside of nest box entrances - he was streaming multiple cameras all at quite a watchable framerate, but I can’t find his site anymore.

Ah, this might have been it:

There are some pages there on the technology he uses.

Thank you very much Mangetout! I am particularly interested in putting the cam near a known roost of a breeding pair of Saw Whet owls. I see them almost daily, they are very rare, but the 500 acre preserve where I work has a few poking around. However, when the resident barred owl is about the little saw whets go into their hollowed out logs and trees.
Also we have a healthy breeding population of Mergansers in the area this time of year, and in the summer we have the Piping Plovers…

I cannot wait to get this thing going!

It sounds like you want the world to see the images so whatever you do, don’t skimp on the quality. Otherwise, it will come back to bite you in the butt. Unless, of course, you plan to make “poor little me” aspect of the camera, hoping to increase donations.

Mangetout did you purchase those USB extender modules or make them?

Check your private messages :slight_smile: