The Neilston WebCam
  Home   What's New   Weather   Photo Gallery   Birdbath Cam   Calendar   Archive   Links   About  
How does the Webcam work?

Varies types of cameras have been used over the past 10 years. The current one is a standard security camera with composite video output which gives good results under all lighting conditions including street lighting. The video signal is fed into a PCIe video capture card.  

The software used is WebCam32 which was specifically written for this type of application. It can caption the image automatically and submits it via FTP to any web site at pre-determined times. This program is now around 20 years old and is no longer available but still works surprisingly well under Windows 10, if it ain' t broke don't try to fix it.

The BirdbathCam used a cheap security camera and USB capture device for many years and then a PCIe capture card. With the price of good quality IP cameras coming down it now uses a Vivotek HD IP camera. Live video is streamed to Netcam Studio that converts the video to a form that can be viewed by most browsers without any special software. The camera also sends images by FTP to the web site when it detects motion, these pictures are stored in a 48hr archive using a neat little PHP program called Single File PHP Gallery. The motion detection will be triggered by wind moving the feeder so you might see a lot of pictures with no birds! There are two version of the birdbath video stream available, the main page shows a live image using a JPEG stream, this works on pretty well any browser or phone but might only give 2 or 3 frames a second. The Live Stream option uses HTML5 to give a frame rate of up to about 20 frames per second. It will only work on modern browsers such as Edge, Firefox or Chrome but probably won't work on phones.

  I use Virgin Media broadband which has proved very reliable over the years with very little downtime. The picture of the street displayed on the main web page is a still image.
  that is updated at varies intervals during the day, so there's no point standing waving at it :-) I have used several Hosts over the years for domain name registration but the one I use now is 123-reg, part of the Pipex group. Unlike many other Domain Hosts extras such as DNS management are all included in the price.

All pages on the web site are now hosted with Webhosting UK because it gives more control of what you can do rather than using "free" web space.


In the past I have used several Web Hosts and from experience have found that the big name companies do not necessarily provide the best service or best value. I've been with Webhosting UK for years now and have found them to be both reliable and good value for money, they even have a freephone support number which is quite unusual for low cost hosting.

The software I use for the photo gallery is Coppermine. This is an excellent public domain PHP application that I'd recommend for anyone wanting to host photos on-line. You can of course use web sites like flikr etc but you are limited to what you can do and how it looks and there is more than often a limit to the quantity and size of files you can upload. At the time of writing the photo gallery has over 3 Gbyte of files in it.


The weather information is obtained from a Davis automatic weather station. This interfaces to the PC via a serial link. The program used to collect data is Weather Display, it has just about every option anybody is likely to want, in fact maybe just too many. Weather Display uploads data via FTP to the web site every 15 minutes and also to Wunderground. Wunderground stores all the data and produces nice graphs of the weather conditions since I started uploading them. There is also an option to view real time weather data. This means you connect directly to the web server running here and you can watch the data change every few seconds as it receives it from the weather station.

Everything runs on an old Quad Core PC. I finally updated it to Windows 10 having run Windows 7 and XP before that for many years. The change from Windows 7 to 10 was less traumatic than going from XP to 7 since some old hardware didn't have drivers available for windows 7. The disadvatage of Windows 10 is that it forces you to update to the latest version once a year, so there is always a risk that older hardware or software will stop working at some point. Since the PC is only running a few applications it quite happily runs away on its own for weeks without any intervention. The most commond reason for a re-boot is a Microsoft security patch.
© DAW 1999-2019