How I Went About Setting Up A Webcam

In every house I've ever lived the one thing that we've always had is a bird table, well that was until I got married and moved in with my wife! Having been here a good year or two I thought it was about time to set one up. My main problem was that as I spend most days at work and that i'd have no way of actually watching it, that was until I came up with the idea of a webcam.

First things first, the actual camera. I looked through all the usual suspects (Amazon, Ebay etc) I finally settled on using an old digital camera I had. Its a StyleCam extreme 2 mega pixel and the picture quality by webcam standards is excellent. If you are interested you can find one here.

The next step is to find some software to grab the images and FTP to the website you want to use to host your webcam. I tried several free trials of full commercial programs but finally settled on something that was very easy to use, very small and best of all, free (Yes I did think of writing my own, watch this space)! Anyway its called the Booru Webcam and you can find it here. Simply copy the program into a directory of your choice edit the few available settings and away you go.

Of course to get your webcam on the web you will either need a host or if you have the right equipment (a web server and fast internet connection) a way of exposing your PC to the rest of the world. Having experienced the bandwidth limits of free hosts I would seriously recommend the later option if you are wanting to update you image more than once a day. Check out the www.no-ip.com web site which will help you in getting your local web server exposed to the world community.

OK, so you've got your images being captured, you've got your hosting set up, now you need a way of refreshing the image on your webpage. You have 3 choices here, a simple meta refresh (easy but will refresh the whole page), javascript (needs javascript enabled and a little knowledge) or finally a java applet (You'll have to find a good FREE one and the client needs java enabled). I tried several java applets but was unhappy with the configuration needed for each so settled for javascript in the end. You can find a copy of the script I use on my UK Garden Webcam.

I hope this page has given you an idea of what is involved and highlighted that its not complicated in anyway. Having seen the reactions from people at work, if there is one thing sure to impress though its a webcam (WOW, IS THAT HAPPENING NOW?!)


Useful Links

Booru Webcam
Free webcam software for grabbing and uploading images.

Dynamic DNS Site
If you are going to host your own Webcam this software will allow a domain name to be used instead of an ever changing IP address.

The UK Garden Webcam
My webcam including the javascript needed to refresh an image.