New cameras - a view from the ground
Sunday, October 15 2006 @ 03:35 PM EDT
Contributed by: richardpitt
David and I have been busy - he in finding trees and the means to get up them, and me with getting the D-link cameras ready and dealing with all the other myriad of technical details. Of course Bob Chappel has been busy with the other cameras ("Matco" - fixed focus ones like are in the Hornby tree)
To top it all off, I lost my wonderful Nikon D70 camera and case - well, lost may not be the word - somehow I put it down while we were looking at a nest site in a public area and I was taking notes. When I got back to the Honda I realized I didn't have it with me and no matter where I looked along the trail I could not find it. This lead to me getting a new Nikon D80 - I'm hooked on digital now and simply could not live without it, and this camera is just that much better. I'll just have to work harder to make up for the cost :(
For this tree in Delta, we used a crane with a work platform on it. David and Rick went up with the two cameras while I monitored the video and audio feeds on the computer in the back of my van below. The nest is about 100' up, hidden from view except when you are directly under it. It has been used by both eagles and red-tailed hawks in the recent past, so we don't know which we'll get this year.
The two cameras are quite different. The Matco is a fixed-focus with a very wide-angle view. In this tree it is actually a bit far from the nest for it to be really effective. The D-link has a full pan/tilt/zoom - with a 10 times optical zoom. It's widest field of view is about 20% less than the Matco, so we put it anything from 3' to 15' from a nest for best results. Hopefully we got it in a position where we can follow the fledglings in their "branching" later in the season. Of course we have little ability to see "up", only down.
At times I had views from both cameras up on the little laptop's screen - and with the D-link I could actually pan around and watch as they installed the Matco camera. The setup I use shows the D-link in their software, with all the controls (sorry, the video stream won't allow you all to use the controls but we'll set something up I'm sure). It comes in with a network feed as well as a composite video feed. The network feed is MPEG4 at any of a selection of bandrates, and the composite video is essentially the same as what we get from the Matco camera - pure TV. The Matco and/or the composite video from the D-link come in via a USB video capture unit from Pinnacle. This first time I put everything together on site, but I've just finished putting a whole test facility with a Panasonic DVD-burner as a base so I can set things up in seconds instead of the nearly an hour it took the first two times.