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  Friday July 25, 2014

About this Webcam

In the spring of 2012, I began using a new digital camera and software to control it. I switched to Sebectec software, and began using an Olympus SP-500UZ digital camera. The new software allows me to set it up for more frequent images, and it will also create time lapse movies from the images. During daylight hours, a new image is taken every 15 seconds. At night, it uses a 30 second exposure, but because of processing time, the images are about a minute and a half apart. Each hour, a time lapse is made of the pictures from the previous three hours, and at the end of each day, a time lapse is made of that day's pictures. See below for what was used previously.

Below is the old setup I used:
As I comtemplated what to get for a webcam, I came across this topic on the Weather-Watch.com forum. When I read through it, I realized that this was the solution I wanted. None of the reasonably priced webcams on the market can produce the quality picture that a digital camera can produce.

Thanks to the VM95 that Erdman Video Systems makes available for free, it's easy to add a great camera image to a page. The only downside is that streaming video isn't available. However, I wasn't really interested in streaming video.

Since VM95 can be used with many Olympus cameras and a couple of Kodak cameras, I began shopping for an Olympus. The model I decided on was the C-4000Z, since it has a slightly wider (32mm equivalent) lenses than most of the others. This model isn't in production anymore, so it was off to eBay. After a few unsucessful attempts, I finally got one for $52, plus $12.99 shipping. I also needed a power supply for the camera, which I also got off eBay for $9.99 plus $6 shipping. Next, since I needed about 25 feet of cable to connect to the computer, I bought an active USB cable and a regular USB cable. Together, these came to about $25. To mount the camera in the window, I came acoss a suction cup mount at Best Buy that I could attach to the window, for $18. Thus, no holes needed in the window frame.

So, the total for the project came to:

Olympus C-4000Z$65
Olympus power supply$16
USB cables$25
Camera mount$18

The VM95 software can be a bit tricky to setup. Using info and links in the Weather-Watch.com forum linked above, I was able to get it setup pretty easily. The only problem I had was getting a media card for the camera, since it didn't come with one. The C-4000Z uses SmartMedia, a defunct type. It took a few weeks before I was able to get one from a fellow Westfordite. With that, the camera went on-line. So far, so good.
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