Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Equipment Needs for the Project

Grant funds should be available very soon, so the Oregon Berry Bee Project can move forward. The Sturms will be purchasing a webcam, solar panels and other equipment.

As part of the process of choosing equipment, our engineering expert, Mike and I had a long conversation about what we wanted to do with the camera. Here’s the requirement list that Mike generated from that discussion:

Provide internet access to view current image of bee nesting boxes at Sturm farm.
Provide internet access to view current image of bloom on vines at Sturm farm.
Provide timed FTP image transfer to single destination on a schedule.
Internet access to image must be through standard web browser interface.
Internet access to image must be password controlled.
System must be weatherproof and standalone.
System must connect to Internet infrastructure.
System to be easily addressable over the Internet using a DNS named address.
System to be placed approximately 420 feet from existing Internet infrastructure.
System to be placed approximately 350 feet from closest power infrastructure.
System to provide data on basic weather conditions within view of camera.
Nest activity (i.e., caps on nest tunnels) must be visible in camera image
System to be available during daylight hours - nighttime viewing not required

These were some of the characteristics of the system that Mike came up with based on what we wanted to do with the camera, and its location:

System to implement solar array and battery unit for power supply
System to implement an IP camera
System to implement a radio link to camera
System camera resolution >= 1MPixel
System to implement DDNS (DYDNS) Named host on router/gateway
System camera must have built-in OS/Software to facilitate FTP and image transfer w/PW access

Given these guidelines, Mike researched cameras, solar panels, and other equipment.

Originally my thought had been that we might use two different cameras, one to watch the bee nests, and the other to monitor the bloom. I also originally thought that we would power the camera with a cable, which would have forced us to put the bee shelter within 300ft of the Sturm’s barn. When Mike suggested that we try solar power, we gave up on the idea of using two cameras so that we would have money available for a solar panel.

Instead, Mike recommended that we use an AXIS 215 PTZ Network camera. Here’s the specs:

Camera model: AXIS 215PTZ
Zoom: 12x
Iris: 3.8-46mm, /F1.6
Auto Iris: Yes
Auto Focus: Yes
Format: MPEG4
Output: 704x480
Security: Multilevel
LUX: 1 Lux
Pan/Tilt: 360p 180t
CCD: 1/4" CCD
Axis PN#: 0274-004

The Zoom listed is in optical values only. Digital zoom is ignored for several technical reasons.
Lux - the minimum amount of light required to produce an image. The lower the number, the better the sensitivity, although for the purposes of this project, a low-light camera was not considered useful. Outputs shown are maximum values in pixels. The higher, the better defined the image will be. This camera will cost us about $1000.

The zoom and pan tilt functions will allow us to move the camera to preset positions getting close ups of the bees’ nests or longer shots of the berry vines in bloom.

This camera model is not intended for outdoor use, so Mike will be building an equipment shelter to house everything. As for our desire for weather data, we will place a digital thermometer in the bee shelter that the webcam can read.

In addition we will be ordering a solar panel & battery charger, along with the deep cycle battery and the wireless link for the camera. The system will be integrated and tested at Mike’s lab prior to installation at the Sturm Farm.

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