eBirdseed.com Webcam Adjustments and Welcome to Engineering 101
Well, if you've been watching our webcam below, you've certainly seen a rather unusual show.
Around sunrise, there were no doubt a bunch of hummingbirds. But then, the display went mysteriously white. After that, you got to see a microwave oven and can of "Pam" cooking spray. Next came the riveting excitement of a digital watch ticking off EST. And finally the webcam was back on line. (Whoa! Time out... Just saw a hummer!) Onward... So what in the name of Phineas J. Whoopee* is going on?!?
Here's the deal... Prior to posting the webcam, I tested the camera extensively. I tested it with different USB cable lengths. I tested it with different focal lengths. (There's another hummer! Dag Nabit they're busy today!) I tested it under various lighting conditions. I even measured the propagation delay of the video signal... All were within the "Cool Envelope". So we rolled the cam out for all to see, and it worked quite well yesterday. Unfortunately, yesterday was overcast and rainy, and that hid a crucial flaw that my testing also failed to uncover - that of the camera's inability to handle brilliant sunshine. Welcome to engineering 101...
Not to worry, we engineers thrive on this sort of "oops". So long as no one gets hurt, and the financial damage is negligible, we tend to think of these little events not as failures, but rather as learning experiences. And what was the solution? Well... I messed with the camera's exposure, contrast, white filter... No luck. So, a quick foray on the Web revealed that the Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks Deluxe really isn't very happy with direct sunlight. Period. That kind of makes sense when you consider that the device probably was designed for gloomy boardrooms, etc. "What's left?" you ask... Umm... Err... Let me just loosen up my collar a bit... You see, we had to reduce the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the camera lens via a system of... Deep sigh... Alright, I put sunglasses on the stupid camera as shown below. There, now you know the truth!
Seriously, over time, we'll experiment with different filters, fix the cabling, find a better way to mount the camera, sharpen the focus, etc., etc., etc. Also, be aware that webcams aren't perfect - there will be the occasional frame drop out, and there might even be a need for a screen refresh now and then. 'Tis the way of the Web. Still, webcams are very neat.
One other thing to consider... CamStreams does provide a chatting feature that would let you guys talk amongst yourselves. Let me know if you want me to enable this.
Gotta run... See you by the feeders... (And remember, we'll be watched over by a camera wearing "Joe Cool" sunglasses...)
* Betcha' didn't know that the man behind the voice of Phineas J. Whoopee was Larry Storch of "F Troop" fame!
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