Springwatch in School

Since Thursday, Jason and I have been working on a project to bring a little nature over to the St. Peter’s website.

I got the call on Thursday asking me if I could source a camera to take in to the school. Apparently a nest had been found outside one of the classrooms, and the school wanted a live feed.

Time was of the essence!

After having a scour around the internet, I found a cool budget camera that would fit the the bill.

The bonus of this camera is that it has infra-red for night vision, as well as sound if required.

I went along on Friday, and we hooked up the camera near the nest and armed with a sledgehammer, drill and an uneasy desire to cause carnage connected the camera to the school network and the mains.

Configuration was interesting. The IP camera allows a live feed that you can configure it with – but requires the installation of an unsigned ActiveX control (which is a pain to install because it is unsigned). Also, the FTP settings will allow you to connect to an FTP site, but not set a filename or folder. ARGH!

So some jiggery pokery came into play. I set up an FTP service in IIS 6.0 on the main server, and created a new folder for the uploaded images. After a little bit of waving in front of the camera, I found that the images were being uploaded in a sequence from when the camera is turned on. eg. cam0001.jpg, cam0002.jpg and so on.

I created a page on my own website, as the school doesn’t have direct FTP access:

<h1>St. Peter's Nestcam</h1>
<img id="camImg" src="./cam.jpg" alt="" />

The picture you are seeing is a motion-sensitive feed,
which is updated every 10 seconds. If there is little or no movement,
the picture stays the same.

Don't worry, it does change! Just take a look at another time.&lt;/p&gt;

Thanks to the bods at <a href="http://www.centaur.it/">Centaur Systems</a>
for setting this up so quickly

Back to the
<a href="http://www.st-peters-canterbury.kent.sch.uk/">school website</a>

Finally, two scripts were created to upload to FTP. I don’t have them to hand, but I’ll upload them later. I promise!

Webcam fun once again

Well, it’s been a little while – so I thought that with this Job’s Bus thing I’m doing at Claire’s school today I had better get ready.

One of the things that seemed to impress the kids last year was using a webcam to post them onto the internet. This was done on Claire’s laptop with CoffeeCup Webcam or something like that.

Needless to say – my trial has expired since then, so I thought I’d try the XP Powertoy Timershot. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perception), it will not install on Vista – even in compatibility mode. I remember it didn’t work properly when I tried it before so I thought that I’d get hold of an alternative.

After a very brief search, I found at32 Comedy Webcam a free webcam publisher that will even upload a (naff) html page.

I had to put a little bit of javascript into the page to make it autoupdate – but it works nicely. It connects to ftp – lets you set the time you wish to update the image, and will preview it if you like. It can supposedly web publish itself as well, but I’ll leave that alone for the time being.

Now all I have to do is dig out that old motherboard again…