Sunday, November 15, 2009

Solar Powered Web Cam

I have a shed that I mounted a wireless weather station on a couple of years ago. I have always wanted to mount a webcam out there to 'see' the weather. There is a 1000' TV tower that I use to judge how bad the weather is...the less antenna I see, the worse the weather.

The wireless weather station uses 2 AA batteries that last roughly half a year...easy.

However a webcam is going to use MUCH more power than that...I didn't want to run electric out there...with the weather station on a metal pole, I didn't want to add a path for lightening to enter the house...because lets face it, if I am going to go through the effort to run power, I will also run CAT5.

So I thought solar might be nice, I already have a battery in the shed (lawn tractor) I could use the solar panel to charge the battery, and the battery will allow the camera to run day or night, rain or shine.

But how to get the solar panel power to the battery and webcam...well I bought a 15w solar panel that came with a 12v battery charger. I mounted the panel to the shed (60 deg angle for winter sun) and measured 24ish volts. Hooked the panel to the charger and battery and got around 13 volts...and the battery was charging...all is well.

Then I hooked the webcam worked, great picture! It worked for a few days...then stopped. I check everything and find the battery is completely discharged...and charger is showing charged...I unplug the webcam and the charger now starts charging the battery.

So point #1 be careful on what you get for a charger. I am now buying a different charger, that has a tap to put your 12v loads on and will even keep you from discharging the battery too much when the solar isn't there. (SunSaver 6 amp solar SS-6L)

Enough of that...what about the webcam?

Needs to be wireless, 12v, good picture, small...and relatively cheap.

Asante Voyager I Wireless 1.3 Megapixel CMOS Day and Night IP Security Camera

I don't know how long it will last...but it takes great pictures/video.

I will cut to the chase, I did a little cutting on the camera case, mounted it in a box, cut a piece of Lexan for the window and sealed it in place. Ran electric too it and sealed that hole. I don't have an external antenna, the one that came with it is fine. The pictures should explain the rest.

Here is the result, the first picture is straight from the camera, the second one is after my weather software puts a caption on it...yes it is compressed too much, I need to play with the settings.

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