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 Post subject: Cam chit chat
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:52 pm 
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Hope you caught a glimpse of the male lion at Nossob this afternoon - I think Matthys captured an image (thanks Matthys!!) The cam control via satellite is slow and I could not follow the lion with cam successfully - when I sent the command to the camera to move (via satellite), the reaction is only displayed half a minute or so later and then the lion was out of the shot again!

This time around the lion did not behave in typical lion behaviour by walking slowly or having a rest under a tree; this male moved! :)

From an earlier post:

Please take note of the following regarding the Nossob webcam:
It is still in a test phase so it might go offline now and then, angles change, picture quality changes, etc.

Please note that the power supply to the camera is provided by the generator at Nossob and the generator is not running 24 hours a day. The webcam should be operating during the following hours:


* Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri : 05:00 - 23:00
* Wednesdays : 05:00 - 24:00
* Saturday : 05:00 - Sunday 23:00
* (weekends thus Saturday 05:00 - Sunday 23:00)


The camera will thus not operate outside the above hours.

Nossob had about 55mm of rain earlier this week so the animal activity at the waterhole might not be much at the moment due to lots of natural water available along the Nossob river (see water behind the waterhole at the moment).

Enjoy!

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Danie Pretorius
Manager: Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
South African National Parks (SANParks)


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 Post subject: Re: Cam chit chat
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:55 pm 
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Danie wrote:
Please note that the power supply to the camera is provided by the generator at Nossob and the generator is not running 24 hours a day. The webcam should be operating during the following hours:


* Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri : 05:00 - 23:00
* Wednesdays : 05:00 - 24:00
* Saturday : 05:00 - Sunday 23:00
* (weekends thus Saturday 05:00 - Sunday 23:00)


The camera will thus not operate outside the above hours.

Enjoy!


Danie: How much power do these cameras and their related systems consume? (I would imagine that broadcasting out to the satellite requires a bit of power, not ot mention running the spot light).

How much would a solar panel and battery big enough to run the whole system cost?

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 Post subject: Re: Cam chit chat
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:09 pm 
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glabah wrote:
Danie: How much power do these cameras and their related systems consume? (I would imagine that broadcasting out to the satellite requires a bit of power, not ot mention running the spot light).

How much would a solar panel and battery big enough to run the whole system cost?

Hi glabah

Firstly, my apologies for only answering you now. I am on leave in the Eastern and Western Cape (at Wilderness National Park at the moment after 5 wonderful days at Tsitsikamma National Park). I'll be back in office on 14 April 2008.

The camera itself does not consume a lot of electricity - about 1-2A from 12V. The flood light however is consuming quite a lot of power (about 2A from 220V). A reasonable 12V powered light would consume between 10A and 20A at least. Then there is the wireless setup between the camera and the network in the camp (Nossob). That would need another 1A @ 220V. The satellite receiver and transmitter do not consume that much power and would need about 3A from 12V.

It means that we would need a around 20A constantly from 12V. A normal car battery capacity is about 50Ah which means that a normal car battery would run flat in about 2-3 hours running the equipment (the flood light using the most energy). A night is about 12 hours long so we would need around 180Ah to see us through the night. That must be charged sufficiently during the day to carry the equipment at night again. In the dessert it might be also be a challenge to provide clean distilled water to the batteries.

Overall it is not worthwhile (yet) running the webcam(s) off batteries and solar at the moment. Solar is quite expensive to provide power to equipment that needs a lot of energy (eg flood lights) especially if it must be stored in batteries.

Bear in mind that the satellite feed is also used for our normal data communications network (incl. reservations, email, admin, etc.) by my colleagues at Nossob and is linked to the internal power network in the camp.

It is difficult to say how much exactly it would cost but it is also not only a once-off cost as batteries die eventually as well and must then be replaced. I can however find that out when I am closer to 'normal communications' from my office. The generator is currently providing the whole camp with electricity at the moment (including the data comms network and related equipment). It is however not running 24h a day (as published in an earlier posting of mine).

In some of our national parks solar powered pumps (to pump water from underground sources) are used very efficiently. It has replaced lots of the traditional windmills in our national parks. The solar pumps however are driven directly from the solar panels in most instances and the pumps are thus only operating during the day (with sufficient sunlight). No power is stored in batteries (high cost and maintenance) in most instances. Some of our radio relay (repeater stations) in our national parks (eg Kruger National Park) are also solar powered with battery backup as we do need the repeaters at night as well!

Thanks for your contribution!

Happy camming!

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Danie Pretorius
Manager: Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
South African National Parks (SANParks)


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 Post subject: Re: Cam chit chat
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:03 am 
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Danie wrote:
It is difficult to say how much exactly it would cost but it is also not only a once-off cost as batteries die eventually as well and must then be replaced. I can however find that out when I am closer to 'normal communications' from my office.


Danie: Thanks very much for your detailed response. You don't need to ask the question, but I am a little curious.

The interesting thing is that right now for me the Nossob camera is being more reliable than the Satara cam - for obvious reasons (the data stream problem explained elsewhere).

My education is in engineering, and my occupation is with a company that builds electrical equipment for the railways. Thus, I have a curiousity about the technical side of such things.

For the entertainment of web site users, it certainly would never be cost effective (we don't exactly contribute to SANParks bottom line while looking at the web cams, so I'm not sure one can even consider "cost effectiveness" as part of the measurement) to have such an apparatus. However, I was thinking more along the lines of how it might be useful as a research tool to find out what goes on at some of the remote water holes when there isn't anyone around to watch.

Wow! 440 watts for the light! That's fairly impressive. You would definitely not want to do that off of a battery for an evening! With the camp's generator running you certainly have enough power for it, but that much power puts a battery of sufficient size into the same size category as telephone exchange backup batteries and electric forklift batteries. If I were designing such a system to run off a battery, I would definitely try to work on finding some less power hungy lighting. Massive multiple LED arrays? Very expensive but probably cheaper in the long run due to the smaller battery required?

In any event, thanks very much for putting some actual numbers on what it takes to run the web cams and associated hardware.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:51 pm 
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Orpen waterhole and cam - taken from the road leading out of the camp.
Image

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It's not too late at all. You just don't yet know what you are capable of. Mahatma Gandhi


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 Post subject: Att: All Cam watchers!
Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:49 am 
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Location: Johannesburg - where they cut down trees and name streets after them.
You might remember the cheetah with the cubs posted by Tilandi at the Nossob cam?

See here and follow this link to get the story!

Red Dune was in the hide and photographed the action while we were watching it on the cam! Wow! Great stuff! :clap:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:50 am 
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Hi all,

am I the only one who is amazed at that little deer (no idea what kind it is) that keeps coming to Satara all alone in the middle of the night, often between 1 and 2 a.m.? Surely that can't be normal behavior for such a small prey-type animal?

Does anyone have any explanation?

Thanks
Kate


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:24 am 
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Hi Kate

Without seeing the antelope you saw, I might be wrong.

The only small solitary antelope I can think of is the grey duiker. It is usually solitary and are very active at night. Quite common throughout Kruger National Park. I have seen it quite often on the Satara Webcam.

The word 'duiker' is an Afrikaans word that literally means 'diver' which describes the action of this antelope when it is disturbed (e.g. running away from danger): it 'dives' left and right through/into the bush.

As a common rule: the smaller the antelope is, the more solitaire it is! Compare kudu (large) - gregarious animal and duiker or steenbok (small) usually solitary

Hope it helps!

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Danie Pretorius
Manager: Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
South African National Parks (SANParks)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:09 pm 
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A question to those of you who are in the know: over the months when I have watched the webcams there has been a great variety as well as a great number of animals. As the dry season drew closer I had expected even more animals to come to the watering holes, but the opposite seems to have happened. Why is it so? Where do the animals drink?

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 Post subject: Waterhole Activity
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 7:55 pm 
mihto, the problem over the years has been an unduly lengthened high rainfall cycle over the last 10 years, which means less animals at our favourite waterholes! :?

Still, this is the time of year to go "waterhole-spotting" and if more folks would put updates on the "Bush Telegraph" thread, one may even have a better picture. :P

I wouldn't worry too much!


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 Post subject: Re: Waterhole Activity
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:04 pm 
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Richprins wrote:
mihto, the problem over the years has been an unduly lengthened high rainfall cycle over the last 10 years, which means less animals at our favourite waterholes! :?

Still, this is the time of year to go "waterhole-spotting" and if more folks would put updates on the "Bush Telegraph" thread, one may even have a better picture. :P

I wouldn't worry too much!


Thank you :D I'm not worried as such but I have looked forward to the "dry" season for sightings. I have never been at Kruger during winter, though. More rain in SA should be good as such, but any change of rain patterns these days is making people go a bit jumpy. Are you happy with the unusual rain patterns?

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 Post subject: Re: Waterhole Activity
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:11 pm 
mihto wrote:
any change of rain patterns these days is making people go a bit jumpy. Are you happy with the unusual rain patterns?


It's not THAT unusual yet, but getting close to it!

Damn straight I'm nervous, as the opposite is happening in East/Central Africa, and the "wheel could turn" violently in our country should drought begin, as we have been merrily expanding with the above mentioned reliable rains! :shock:


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:29 pm 
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mmm... I remember February/March 2000 when I lived in Pretoria and did some research in Venda. That rainfall season scared people badly. I was then told about a seven-year cycle and that 2002 seemed to be at the tail end of the cycle. The later years were then drier and now the rain seem to have picked up again? Are you expecting some more wet years? How is the animal population in KNP developing during a larger rainfall? Are the changes measurable?

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 Post subject: Weather
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 6:32 pm 
mihto wrote:
now the rain seem to have picked up again? Are you expecting some more wet years? How is the animal population in KNP developing during a larger rainfall? Are the changes measurable?


1. The last reasonable "cyclical " drought was around 1998.

Since then it has been above average rainfall over the decade! :shock:

2. I therefore expect the same, until a point where logic would suggest the opposite starts happening... :? Or maybe never, and we effectively change to a new, more tropical climate! :shock: It really is an impossible question to answer! :evil:

3. It is difficult to get reliable figures on animal numbers since around 2004 - for some reason the census results are not placed on the forums, for example! :?

Denser bush over the years may have made counting more difficult, and the closing of water points has probably led to the statistical method of estimating herbivore numbers having to be revised.

In other words, resident herds of zebra, for example, that recolonised areas around new windmills, should theoretically have disappeared, but have not done so due to good rainfall and growth!?

These are all difficult questions to "guesstimate", mihto, which is why SANPARKS have a large and vibrant Research Department, and are also not afraid to use experienced retired members as consultants.

One other thing that does worry me too, however, is that the "wet cycle", has disguised the impact of the overblown elephant population to an extent... :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: Cam chit chat
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:42 pm 
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The data line to Orpen was doubled in bandwidth earlier today by our telecoms service provider! :D

Hopefully it will contribute to more stable webcam images coming from Orpen!

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Danie Pretorius
Manager: Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
South African National Parks (SANParks)


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