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EBF GHO Owl Cam Questions and Answers
1) What are the active EBF Owl Cam Ustream Channels? Top View: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ellis-bird-farm-owl-cam
Side View: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ebf2
2) How are the cameras situated? The original camera (EBF2 Side View) is on a pole approximately 2 meters to the side of the nest. It looks down to the nest at about a 45 degree angle. It is South of the nest facing North.
The new top view camera is attached to a branch above the nest. It looks almost directly down on the nest and is one meter from the inside bottom of the nest bowl. The top of the image faces East and the bottom faces West.
You can visualize the side view image as being at the 6:00 position and the top view camera being at the 9:00 position.
3) Why is the image quality of the two channels so different? There are a couple reasons for this. First, the new top view camera is a digital, true HD camera running at 1280x720 pixels. The original side view camera is analog with standard TV resolution (420x320 pixels). Second, when we installed the new top view camera we splurged on a new video server for it. This is the computer that presents the video from the camera to Ustream. Its powerful video card allows us to stream video from the top view camera without as much compression. The server for the original camera is a somewhat dated computer and its video card does not support the software required to stream the higher quality video.
4) Why is the video image sometimes grey scale instead of color? The cameras are capable of working at night as well as during the day. At Night, a light is automatically turned on to illuminate the nest. In order to not disturb the owls, the light used does not radiate in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Instead it radiates in the near infrared portion of the spectrum, outside of what eyes are able to detect. The cameras however are capable of seeing light from the visible part of the spectrum or the near infrared spectrum. Because there is no visible color associated with near infrared light, at night when this is the only wavelength that the cameras see it is programmed to represent it as varying shades of white/grey/black (grey scale).
5) Why is the top view image sometimes in grey scale mode during the day? Because there is no such thing yet as a High Definition, Day/Night, all weather, internet compatible, digital video camera we had to design our own. Presently we have to switch this camera between the day mode and the night mode manually. We try to do this at reasonable times each day but our schedule doesn’t always allow it.
The top view camera is actually two cameras side by side. They are identical except that one of the cameras has been modified to be sensitive in the near infrared spectrum for night time imaging and the other provides a color image for daytime imaging. The cameras are USB based (meaning they have to use a very short cable) so we actually had to install a whole computer up in the tree with the cameras. The new high quality image has certainly been worth the effort.
6) Why is the top view channel completely black sometimes in the early evening or early morning? See the previous question.
7) Why does one channel give the appearance that the nest is swaying in the wind while the other channel does not? The side view camera is mounted at the top of a very tall pole and this pole sways in the wind much more than the tree does. The top view camera is attached to one of the same branches as the nest and so sways with the nest giving the appearance that the nest is stationary, even in strong winds. The foliage visible below the nest is all part of the same tree and moves approximately with the nest as well adding to the appearance that the nest is stationary.
8) Why does the audio cut out sometimes? This is a limitation of the new software we use to stream high quality video. It unfortunately occurs whenever our internet service provider’s bandwidth drops to a very low level each day. We have a solution for this in mind and hope to implement it the next time we are doing on site maintenance.
9) Why does one channel sometimes lag several seconds behind the other? We send both video streams to the internet at the same time but the internet chooses on its own what path each channel takes to Ustream. No two paths have the exact same travel time. Also Ustream has to do some processing of our video streams before passing them on to you and this can take different amounts of time for each channel. Often, you are seeing events unfold about 30 seconds after they actually happen at the nest.