The Goldstream Cameras are up (Updated Jan 7)

Goldstream Park CamerasI've just been watching the first live stream of the season - from the two channels at Goldstream Park near Victoria.

I was over at the park with Bill Gosse (retired Telus microwave person) and working on the link (again) Thursday and Friday (Jan 4/5). The microwave link radios that had been in for a month of storms and such did not fair well. They all had external antenna links and it appears that water was getting into the cables causing them to lose signal. They were showing link levels at the 15-20% level where they should have been up well over 60% or better. We replaced 3 of the 4 radios on Thursday with new ones with internal antennas. The receive levels went up to where they should have been all along, but the link still had throughput problems. By the time we were finished, it was almost dark and down close to freezing out on the marina location where we were doing our link testing. I dropped Bill off at the ferry and stayed overnight at my brother's in Victoria.

Friday it was raining hard (snowing in Vancouver which I'm glad I missed). The new radios were all talking to each other but I had to get the throughput problem fixed. A call to Engenius' support line brought a suggestion that they not all be configured the same. Each pair should have been a Bridge-Access Point pair where I had them all set up as Bridge. These systems are new to us so it has been a learning experience. Getting the pairs set up correctly meant a trip to each of the locations - in the rain. Shades of when we first set them up.

All the reconfiguration took the rest of the day, but the link finally firmed up with 0% packet loss just after 4PM. It has been rock solid ever since.

Read on for more pictures and the link info:
The Goldstream Ecology Center centers around the estuary at the mouth of Goldstream River. Each year hundreds of eagles and other predetors and scavangers come to the area around Christmas time to feast on the returning salmon.

Two years ago, Bob Chappell, the same person who supplied the camera for the Hornby Island nest cam we enjoyed last season, installed two cameras at the center: one on the far side of the estuary (The Estuary View) and another that is under water at high tide (The Salmon-Cam).

This year Bob added a second remote zoom/pan/tilt in the same area as the Salmon Cam - the Intertidal View. It and the Salmon Cam come to the same monitor in the Ecology Center, and share a feed to you on the Internet - one or the other, depending upon which is most interesting.

There is actually a third camera that can be switched into this feed, the Bat Cam - which is in the attic of the Ecology Center. There are no bats there at the moment due to the cold, but they will return in the Spring.

As you can see from the pictures here, there is lots of information and interactive displays on eagles at the center. Every time I've been there, there have been families and school groups throughout the center, viewing and interacting, or getting excellent talks from the naturalists there.

This year we have partnered with a local Vancouver company that has been in the streaming media business for over ten years. Insinc is headed up by Hugh Dobbie, and I've been on his live streaming site with my friend David Ingram (the Taxman) several times in the past. Their MediaOnTap.com facilities are currently hosting the World Junior Hockey and they also host many different traditional media's online content. They are providing us with encoders and expertise, and we'll be using their video-on-demand services as well as other of their facilities to bring you all the various sites we have planned.

The problems we are having with the streams from Goldstream are not problems at Insinc's end. They are problems with the fact that we are not directly connected to the Internet, but instead have to do a multi-hop microwave link and are using equipment that is new to us. Please understand this when you follow the link to their site and experience the cameras. They will freeze up and re-queue - but the fact that this is all done automatically by their servers retrying each time the link fails is a tribute to their expertise - last year we had to manually restart the feed if it died.

You will find the links to the cameras at the top of the Goldstream topic section. This link is the first of what should prove to be a banner year for wildlife viewing.

Enjoy!

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Screen pictures and video grabs are here just in case the net is not willing to let you see for yourself ;)

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