Marsh monitoring for dummies.
June 7, 2012 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on setting up an outdoor webcam that can pan, tilt, and zoom with web (and possibly iPad/smartphone) access, and I'm having a heck of a time finding a good solution to do all of the above. Help?

Long story short, I've got a colleague who owns a cabin overlooking a marsh out in the country. He and several other guys pay a share of the costs to keep the place running and head out there on occasion to hunt ducks, pheasants, etc.

He'd like to have a webcam feed that he can access with pan/tilt/zoom controls with a decent resolution and optical zoom capability to be able to scan the marsh to see what sort of animals are around at any given time. I don't think any sort of night vision is really necessary.

He has high speed internet at the cabin, and it wouldn't be too hard to mount the camera at the cabin itself (i.e., we won't be mounting this from a tree or anything). There isn't currently any permanent computer at the place currently, but setting something up to be a server if necessary would be possible. They're on a dynamic IP right now.

This was my first inclination, but I'm not entirely sure what else he'd need to set up to make this accessible from the web.

So, I guess I'm just picking your collective brains, technophiles of MeFi. What would be the best (and preferably simplest) way to do this? Bonus points for iPad/Android access and control.
posted by sciencemandan to Technology (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It only has pan and tilt, and an indoor enclosure, but I bought a Wansview NC540W network camera for my workshop and have been relatively pleased with it. If y'all don't totally swamp my network feed you should be able to view it at (not a link 'cause I want to make you work a little for it...).

It also comes with DNS, so if you can get it configured on a network connection with firewall permissions such that you can get a browser to it, it'll also give you a URL you can give out that'll update with the dynamic IP stuff.

I got it for intranet applications, but I'd spring for the extra few pennies to get the H.264 version next time.
posted by straw at 12:20 PM on June 7, 2012

Argh. Scratch that. It's down right now because of internal network config issues. If you want to see it, memail me, otherwise I'll try to fix it when I've got a chance.
posted by straw at 12:34 PM on June 7, 2012

I've had luck with a Foscam FI8918W camera and a free Android app. I used to have it pointed at the door so the motion sensor would email me anyone coming in or out. Now it's pointed at the sofa and sends me a stream of cat pictures. You don't even *need* a fixed IP address as the camera will email you the current address for you to cluck on.
posted by fingerbang at 1:51 PM on June 7, 2012

I have one of these. It works very well, and it should be good to go without any supporting computer, though there are a few things worth noting.

In addition to supporting a handful of popular dynamic dns services, the camera comes with it's own built-in DDNS through some site that's located in Singapore and it's impossible to disable it. I haven't noticed any network traffic that's cause for alarm, but it is a little disconcerting that the device "phones home" to some unknown server on the internet.

The web-based interface is nice, but it's unencrypted and only secured with plaintext username/password pairs. I'd definitely recommend having something else on the LAN capable of running stunnel.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2012

Best answer: Axis and Panasonic also make IP-connected PTZ cameras that can deal with dynamic dns services and that (can) use HTTPS rather than plain HTTP. Some are even bundled with outdoor enclosures. The quality is definitely better than the typical Chinese special cameras I've used, but the pricing may give you a heart attack.
posted by wierdo at 4:32 PM on June 8, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses! I think after considering the quality I'm going to need as well as the requirement for outdoor mounting, I'm going with the Axis P5512-E. MeMail me if you are curious as to how things work out!
posted by sciencemandan at 7:36 AM on June 11, 2012

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