Is there a mobile webcam that can stream video w/o WiFi?
November 15, 2013 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I would like to put a streaming webcam on the front of a large piece of machinery as it goes about its daily business. The problem is that this piece of machinery will most likely be outside of WiFi range for the majority of its day. However, it will be within good cellphone/4G range. Are there webcams built to handle this kind of use? Any recommendations if so? (Or, potentially, could I just use a smartphone or something similar?)
posted by Peemster to Technology (7 answers total)
Could you use something like a Mifi to create a wifi network within range of the camera?
posted by primethyme at 8:18 AM on November 15, 2013

You'll probably test the "unlimited" terms of use of your mobile provider, but it's worth a shot. Get a camera mount and a power cord and try the Bambuser app on a smartphone.

This is an application frequently used by civil rights enthusiasts when they encounter law enforcement. It might be ideal, especially on a phone that will switch to WiFi data when it gets into range.
posted by Kakkerlak at 8:42 AM on November 15, 2013

I work in the mobile data space. Streaming video over a 4G cell phone connection to the internet is probably going to cost you an astonishing amount of money.

Lets say you stream 1 hour of video that has a resolution of 640x480 (so essentially DVD resolution, not even HD). For video encoded at 640x480, you're looking at a bitrate of about 800 kbit/sec. So to determine the amount of data that your 4G modem will be transferring, we can use the following formula:

Number of MBs transferred = bit rate/sec * number of seconds / (8*1024*1024)

(800 * 1024) * 3600 / (8 *1024*1024) = 351 Mb.

So you'll be transferring about 350 megs an hour. I would think that with even 'unlimited' plans (which are usually capped at around 3-5 gig), you'll run through your monthly data allotment in about 10-15 hours.

You'd be better off buying some wifi range extenders, or running a line of CAT5 ethernet cable...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 8:53 AM on November 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hrm. So this would be in an farmer's field, which is why I don't think WiFi range extenders or Ethernet cables would work. But you make a good point that data charges would probably kill me on any MiFi solution out there -- especially if I wanted to run this for a week.
posted by Peemster at 9:06 AM on November 15, 2013

What's the maximum range from the edge of the field to the farmhouse (I'm assuming there's a base there w/net capability)?

You might want to look at the equipment the radio-conrtolled aircraft hobbyists use. They have video transmitter/receivers that work at longer distances and in motion. Like this.

You'll still need a setup at the receiving end to turn this into web video, of course.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:58 AM on November 15, 2013

I would rethink the need for it to stream, or else look at point to point wireless.
posted by rhizome at 10:16 AM on November 15, 2013

Do you have electricity near the machinery? If yes, you might be able to use ethernet over powerline. Otherwise use some wifi kit with a good antenna. Something from Ubiquiti should do the job.
posted by devnull at 10:57 AM on November 15, 2013

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