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Is the Cam Down?

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Honorary Virtual Ranger
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
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Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:24 am Unread post
Is the cam broken?
It is fairly obvious if you see this pic:
Image
Also, the fact that one of these is showing means that Kruger, (the person responsible for the cams) knows about it, and is working on it.

If you see the cam acting up like these:
Image Image
it means that there is an electrical problem (a grounding problem seemingly). That can take a while to fix. We have taken to calling that the Martians flying by with there spaceship for some reason or whatever.
(Edit: that was with the old Orpencam only, so don't expect these anymore.)
And then, well, yes. The cam does not refresh. Is stuck. That happens, but remember:
Quote
It may happen that the update is disrupted due to power failure (hey, this camera is in the African wilderness after all), or bad weather conditions.

Usually that means that the server sending the shots to the webserver is on the blink. Often that can be solved remotely, but not always. And it could mean that the communicationlines to Satara or Orpen are down. That takes longer to solve as it's not maintained by SANParks of course.

What to do when it is down?
Check this topic, someone may have the same problem, which means that the cam is indeed down. If you see that one of the moderators has replied it means that SANParks has been alerted. If not, just PM one of the moderators. At the bottom of the forum indexpage you can see who is online. The names shown bold are moderators.


Last edited by DuQues on Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:17 pm
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Location: Germany - Munich
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Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:10 pm Unread post
Because I am from Germany the web cams are my window to the national parks especially to the kruger. I am actually glad there is a web cam in the park. So far so good.

But many many times I have problems by viewing it. Interruptions, slow repeating, clomplete blackout and even when it works it seems to have a very simple software.

Please dont't get me wrong, I don't want to be a "know-it-all" but please look here : Another Webcam

It is a webcam of a restaurant with many possibilities. The repetition rate can be choosen, quality and much more. I was told the soft and hardware togehter did cost not more than EUR 500 = R 5000.

What is R 5000 for the famous Kruger National Park ?

Just an idea.



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Guru
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:42 pm
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Location: South African National Parks (SANParks)
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Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:44 pm Unread post
Hi Mucman!

Thanks for the e-mail and the link!

I wish it was as simple and cheap as you described it. If the camera was installed in a city like Johannesburg or Pretoria (indoors), it would have been very easy and much, much cheaper to install and to maintain!

Unfortunately (?) the webcams are all in remote areas in the bush/desert far from any proper communication infrastructure e.g. proper data lines. We have to provide power to the camera (220V), we have to provide network infrastructure (via optic fibre, cable (UTP) or radio, combined with satellite in Nossob's case), the camera must be protected against the elements (outdoor housing), power supply to the camera should adhere to all safety standards (distribution boxes, circuit breakers, earth leakages), the outdoor housing must be weather proof, fan cooled (in Kruger National Park the temperature at the webcam can reach almost 50C in the sun - cam must be protected against that). Added to that we use a specific model (the best(?)) on the market and might also be a bit more expensive than other cheaper models. The specific model we are using has proved itself over the past few years to be very robust in a very harsh environment.

When the 'webcam is down' it is usually because of a network problem (dataline) and very seldom the webcam itself (we have had no failures on the webcams so far that had to be repaired - except one wireless card that went faulty on the 1st day or two and the suppliers replaced it promptly).

Unfortunately to fix any problem with the link between the webcam and the network, somebody has to drive physically to the webcam in some cases to check, all this takes time! The Nossob webcam for example is about 1000km from the suppliers/support guys and the closest town (without webcam support guys!) is about 6 hours away! So it remains a challenge! To give you an example, the installation cost in the case of Nossob was more expensive than the webcam itself because of distances to be travelled, time, etc. There is no telephone service available at Nossob (yet). Communication with the installation team was also a challenge! Fortunately we had VoIP products to use via the satellite link which worked 100% in most cases!

The datalines to the webcams are in all the cases microwave links powered by solar panels (our telecom service provider looks after this). Nossob's image gets to the Internet via a satellite link. These links break sometimes, etc. The datalines via which the image is transmitted every 30 seconds, have very limited bandwidth because more bandwidth is just not available - even if we wanted to add more!

We are working on a plan that might resolve this in future but it will take some time (and money!) and the buy-in of serveral other parties providing certain cost effective services (e.g. data links). Broadband is not (as yet) possible to the webcams. In one site it might be possible but at a huge expense! If our aim with the webcams was to make money, we would have invested a lot more in that but that was never our intention. The cost to install broadband links to all the webcams (if it was possible) does not justify the benefits! All the webcams we are using are 100% capable of transmitting live video and audio BUT the problem is the bandwidth needed for that. Unfortunately bandwidth is a VERY costly resource at the moment! In most cases the bigger bandwidth can just not be supplied anyway!


Enjoy the webcams and I hope that you understand the webcam installations in SANParks a bit better after the 'short' explanation above!

Happy camming!



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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
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Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:04 pm Unread post
Danie, thanks so much for this detailed explaination of the challenges involved in bringing the webcam pix to the world. I hope that the webcam addicts will now understand better and be a little bit more patient when a cam is down. After all, we now have three cams to watch, and I've yet to see all of them being down at the same time — so there is always at least one cam active.

I have infinite respect and admiration for you and your team that keeps these amazing cams going for all of us around the world to enjoy!! :clap: :dance: :clap: :clap: :clap:



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Guru
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:42 pm
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Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:20 pm Unread post
Thanks Arks! This is indeed a team effort! We want to provide everybody visiting our site and the webcams with a small window on nature in our national parks - wetting the appetite a bit!

I wish we could activate the sound and the live video! If you could only hear the jackals and scops owls calling at Nossob at night! Or how about the hyaena calling at Satara or the lions roaring around Orpen...mmmm....I am getting goosebumps! Those of you who had the privilege to experience it to sit around a camp fire, listening to the nocturnal sounds, WOW...! For now, we provide the medium for the images to get to your computer monitors..

Our virtual visitors are very important to us BUT we have a few technical challenges as pointed out earlier!

Happy camming!



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Guru
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Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:40 pm Unread post
You might see a (positive) change in the behavior of the webcams as we are introducing a software change on the webserver that will hopefully improve the availability of the images via the webserver - this is to work around the glitch/gremlin I spoke about earlier in the FTP software of the webcams itself which we can't change.

More info on it when it is finalised and tested properly. The webteam is busy with that on the webserver....



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Guru
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Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:32 am Unread post
As the camera itself is like a PC (own CPU, memory, software running, etc), it does fail to communicate to the webserver now and then because of the slow line (low bandwidth available for the webcam) to Orpen.

Usually a reboot of the camera does the trick to get rid of all temp files, etc. This time we could not reboot the webcam remotely (which is usually possible). Somebody had to go physically to the webcam and reboot it. That took a bit longer!

Orpen's data line is to be upgraded soon. The telecom company providing the data lines is eventually able to increase the bandwidth to the site - they are busy upgrading their telecom infrastructure in the area which will double the speed to the site soon! :)

If one webcam is down, there are usually 2 others to give you a glimpse of the wildlife and nature in SANParks!

Enjoy!



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Guru
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:42 pm
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Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:29 am Unread post
Just to clarify something: There is no computer running the Orpen webcam. In other words the cam is not linked to a separate PC converting the video signals to still images like in the olden days!

The webcam itself is an IP camera. It is not linked to any PC as the camera itself has memory, a CPU, storage, etc. which handles the sending of the images directly to the webserver from where you see the image on the website.

Hope it helps!

Happy camming!



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Guru
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Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:04 am Unread post
Orpen Webcam ---> FTP Image every 30 seconds --> via Wireless Link---> Orpen Reception Local Area Network (LAN) ---> SANParks Wide Area Network (WAN) --> Internet --> Webserver --> Image (jpg) via your browser


Last edited by Danie on Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.


Re: Is the Cam Down?

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Guru
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Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:27 pm Unread post
Danie wrote
Thanks for the question on the human activity at the Nossob waterhole earlier today!

I have requested more information from my colleague at Nossob (Charles, SANParks Section Ranger: Nossob Section) and I am awaiting his response (via e-mail - bear in mind, no telephones at Nossob - e-mail only via satellite).

To me, it looks like maintenance that was done. I'll give you more info once I have more detail from the site (and the person in charge there)!

I had feedback from Charles earlier this evening (thanks Charles!).
He and his team are busy fixing damage to the waterhole caused by wildebeest (lots of mud!). They are draining it as well to repair it.

They might be working again around the waterhole tomorrow (Thu 18 Sept) so keep watching - cams should be back online during the day tomorrow (Thu 18 Sept).

Thanks Charles and team for maintaining the waterhole! :clap:


Re: Is the Cam Down?

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Guru
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Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:53 pm Unread post
aqua5 wrote
a very bad place to run out of water!

Thanks for your concern!

The Section Ranger at Nossob (Charles) is fully aware of this! The water level was dropped on purpose (remember the mud problem at this water hole which was created two weeks ago because of too much water?)

Bear in mind that the creatures in this part of the word, are adapted to these harsh dry conditions. They are used to walk long distances to water - the water hole on the Nossob Webcam is not the only water hole in the area.

The water hole on the webcam at Nossob is being filled with more water by the rangers (as we speak..(type?)...

On behalf of all the creatures around Nossob, thanks again for your concern! :)


Re: Is the Cam Down?

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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:41 pm
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Location: Johannesburg - where they cut down trees and name streets after them.
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Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:57 pm Unread post
Danie wrote
The water hole on the webcam at Nossob is being filled with more water by the rangers (as we speak..(type?)...


In which case it is a man made waterhole so the animals coped fine before it was built? :wink:


Re: Is the Cam Down?

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Guru
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Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:02 pm Unread post
You are 100% correct - it is a man made waterhole!


Re: Is the Cam Down?

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Guru
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Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:32 am Unread post
Quote
thank you mods.
the water hole might be man made, but it has been there for a while now, and the animals have become used to it.
very unkind to deprive them of it at this stage

I think you might have missed a portion in my posting yesterday:
Quote
The Section Ranger at Nossob (Charles) is fully aware of this! The water level was dropped on purpose (remember the mud problem at this water hole which was created two weeks ago because of too much water?)

The water hole was not completely dry. The water level was just dropped. See message from the Section Ranger at Nossob (Charles) below as well:

Quote
Thank you very much for your inquiry regarding the waterhole at Nossob camp (which is visible on the webcam).

Recently wildebeest damaged the water trough, which overflowed badly as a result. This in turn, resulted in the further trampling of the soil surrounding the trough. We therefore had to temporary close the waterhole in order for the mud to dry, so that the trough could be cleaned out and the damage repaired. After this was done it was decided rather not to fill the waterhole to capacity, so as not to have a repeat of the abovementioned situation. It however seems that as less water was directed to the trough, that the water level was not visible on the camera as a result, which made the trough seem empty. The volume was subsequently increased in order to remedy the situation.
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