Wow I haven’t updated in a while. I’d be lying if I had a lot of new things to talk about but I suppose there are some things of note.
I have some vacation property in BC that we visit regularly but still the commute is still quite far and so we don’t visit enough to feel secure about the place. That and the fact that it’s vacation property so often when stuck working on a project that’s frustrating it would be nice to see what life is like where I’d rather be. I figured, I have internet at my cottage, I have an old laptop that is collecting dust at home, I have a few old webcams, why not make a poor mans security system or web cam host at my cottage?
The problem is, a lot of the free web cam software is either terrible or not really free at all but subscription based. Being a cheap mofo I’ll always go for free software, especially if it means I can tinker with it a bit too.
I discovered yawcam a LONG time ago and really like it. The things typically that clobber these type of projects is that they either don’t work with the cameras themselves well, are too limited on the type of output (file, streaming, etc) they produce or they’re so poorly designed that they’re a nightmare to use. Yawcam doesn’t have any of these problems (well that’s not entirely true but I’ll get to that later). Yawcam does have some nice features too in that if you want you can have the software detect movement from the camera too so setting up a ‘cheap’ security system as well. I installed Yawcam and configured my main camera that I bought cheap off ebay for $8 from Hong Kong and instantly it worked. The nice thing was this cheap webcam I bought also had LED lights too which meant could use it indoors for 24hour motion detection and security. This is where I started running into troubles though.
1) I did have two cameras, I wanted to have one camera pointing outside so I could see what the weather was like, who was in the neighborhood, etc. The problem is that the camera I wanted to point outside has terrible light compensation. Basically the entire image was SO blown out (due to the outdoor light) that it was impossible to see anything. This meant that I had to use the camera that had LED lights on it to point outside and so no night time type monitoring.
2) yawcam does not ‘play well’ with multiple cameras. The software supports being launched multiple times (for multiple cameras) but under the covers the configuration files would overwrite themselves so you have to have multiple copies of the same app in multiple folders otherwise all the configurations you did for one camera would overwrite the other camera’s configs. Also the output stuff (I picked streaming) will actually cause one of the other streams to crash, even though the application looks like it’s running a user could not stream to one or the other stream, that entire camera was basically disabled.
What I did end up running was yawcam with webcamxp 5. Webcamxp5 is okay, it pales in comparison to yawcam in terms of features but it works well enough in tandem to yawcam that I am happy with it. If I ever find some free time I may look at debugging some of the odd behavior with yawcam in regards to multiple cameras (and their configurations) but for now what I need is working.