A bit of detail on the Satara webcam:
We had the choice of making everything perfect or making the cam live with 90% functionality. We have chosen the latter and the Satara webcam is live with minor glitches.
Let me explain a bit about the camera and the operation of it:
I first ran numerous tests on the webcam in Pretoria, checking and testing various issues/aspects of the new webcam during January 2006.
On Monday morning 30 January 2006 (a very hot and humid day in Kruger National Park), I took the precious load of equipment to Satara after sleeping over at Skukuza. I started installing the webcam at the waterhole just outside Satara camp (will post some pics on it later). I had to wait for a very lazy elephant bull to finish his morning drink before leaving my vehicle to start the installation! Although we both (elephant and I) represent the same organisation (SANParks), I did not trust him acknowledging me as a colleague, he has a bit of a weight advantage! Keeping an eye on him at a distance, tools started rattling, power was tested, brackets fabricated around the leadwood tree stump, outdoor enclosure properly sealed ensuring that no water can get to the camera. This proved to be very useful as the camera survived various rain showers and hot days during the testing phase, which started on 30 Jan 2006 and ended today 15 Feb 2006. At about 18:00 everything at the camera was installed and aligned. Thereafter the wireless link was installed, tested, etc. At about 22:00 a rain shower surprised us on the back of my LDV sending us scrambling for cover for the notebooks that were used in the set-up of IP addresses, etc. on the wireless card of the webcam! At 23:15 the first image was transmitted via the wireless link via our Wide Area Network (WAN) to Pretoria! After final adjustments, the webcam was functioning 100% and a shower and bed was welcome sight at about 02:00 on Tue morning 31 Jan 06.
A bit more on the Satara webcam installation itself:
The Satara webcam is an IP camera meaning that the camera itself has intelligence in it with a processor, software, etc.
Without going into too much detail, the webcam at Satara is basically a device on the SANParks network as any other PC on our network with an address, software built into the webcam, intelligence on the camera, etc. The camera itself sends an image every 30 seconds to our webserver. Now this is where we had to make the decision to postpone the launch of the camera to perfect the web interface or not. As said, we (Admin and myself) decided to go ahead for now with 90% functionality and sort the other 10% out later.
The image is transmitted from the camera starting at the top of the image downwards and that is why you might sometimes get only the top portion of the image or a partial image. The web server (which displays the image to you as a virtual registered forum member) does not know when the webcam has completed the transmission of the image and displays it as it is transmitted. We are still looking for solutions around that.
The webcam at Satara is 'talking' to the SANParks network via a wireless link that runs between the camera at the waterhole and Satara camp. That is a distance of about 140 metres. The image is then carried via the SANParks network from Satara in Kruger National Park via our WAN (Wide Area Network) to the web server where you can see a new image every 30 seconds.
You will notice that there is no date/time captured on the image itself. The date time you see is taken from the image properties to ensure that the date/time is the transmitted time of the image as it landed on the web server. Our webmaster (Admin) has also put in a huge effort trying to solve this problem! We'll continue to look for a solution...
That in short(?) is a description of the Satara webcam and how it works.
Problems you might experience with the webcam's image:
- Half or portions of the image displayed on your browser (as explained above)
- The date/time caption not on the image itself (but below the image) and no logo on the image
- Lower light conditions at Satara might result at a dimmer image as the flood light at Satara is not as bright as the one at Orpen and the waterhole is much longer than the one at Orpen. I have experimented with the camera in night mode at night but the image is then black and white only
Well, enjoy the new webcam at Satara that finally arrived! Thanks again to everybody that contributed to this project; without your contribution, this would not have been possible! Thanks again!