Tag Archives: Willing Webcam

New weather camera for Willing Webcam

I originally setup my weather camera to use a Logitech QuickCam C910 web camera.  I did some previous research and the choices seems to be either a Logitech or Microsoft web camera.  I liked the C910 because it said it was HD and had a good lens with auto-focus.

The operation went fine however over time I became less impressed with the C910 camera.  My biggest compliant was the images were blurry.  It didn’t seem like it was an auto-focus issue as I had the focus on manual focus to infinity.  But, this change required me to leave the software running all the time which was an issue when the computer rebooted and I would have to turn off the auto-focus again.  Lastly, the CPU was always running around 50% usage.

But, the image quality became the sticking point.  I decided to do some more research.  The research pointed me to using an actual digital camera.  The Willing Webcam software said it supported some models of Canon cameras.  I had two cameras but neither worked.  I did some more research and found out that Canon supported a protocol called PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol).  A free software called gPhoto has a list of camera that support PTP so that explained why my two didn’t work.  But, now I had a list of what did.

I was thinking of buying a new camera didn’t make a lot of sense.  I looked at eBay first but actually found better results at Amazon which sold many old, used camera.  I selected a Canon PowerShot A520.  It only cost around $20.  I needed to order an USB cable, too.

I tested the camera and it worked fine.  I had to change my mount on the window frame but finally got the right position for the camera view.  The images were excellent.  In fact, I had to reduce the resolution because the time-lapse movie was too big to store.  Check out the results at Woicik Weather Camera.

How to use WeatherLink to add data to Willing WebCam

Willing WebCam has a feature that will add text from a file to the web camera image.

I created a new HTX template file for WeatherLink and included the date, time, temperature, wind speed and daily rain weather tags along with a title.  Then I created another Data Upload Profile but one that updated every 1 minute to match the daily time-lapse settings.  I changed the file extension to be TXT.  I also had to enable Local Transfer so the file would be stored on the hard drive.

In Willing WebCam, I went to the Text Caption and enabled the Text to File and linked to the camera.txt file.  I also had to turn off the Time Caption feature since it was overwriting.

I tested and everything was working fine.  Check out the results at Woicik Weather Camera.

Willing Webcam Advanced Configuration

After the initial configuration of Willing Webcam, I noticed a few things that I wanted to fine-tune.

  • Codecs – Willing Webcam had three codec choices for time lapse videos:  MS Video 1, Indeo video 5.10 and SWF.  The default was MS Video 1.  I noticed after a few days,\ that the video quality wasn’t that good.  I did some searching around their forums and found a posting that said that was true and to try using the Indeo codec.  I tested that for a few days and the quality was better.  However, I initially had a problem playing the AVI back on my Windows 7 computer.  I found a posting that said you had to register a DLL on Vista and Windows 7.  I next did a test of SWF.  The file size and quality was the same as Indeo.  However, when I tried to open up the SWF in Adobe Premiere Elements, the SWF crashed the program.  So, the Indeo codec was the selection.  All three did upload to YouTube.
  • Mounting – I was testing the web camera looking out our upstairs bedroom window.  This provided a good vantage point for the view below.  However, the noise of the old desktop computer wasn’t the best for sleeping.  I decided to move the computer and camera downstairs but then I needed to figure out a way to mount the camera up high in the window sill.  So, I made a small wooden frame and screwed it to the top of the window opening.  It was behind the window blinds and I was able to route the USB cable around.  I was able to position the camera so the horizon was in the bottom third of the image.  Check out the Woicik Current Weather.
  • Webcam controls – I left everything on the Logitech C910 as automatic.  I did some testing to find out if it was better to turn off auto focus.  I notice with the new mounting that the camera was focusing on the window glass.  So, I turned off auto-focus and set the focus to be distant.  I started testing the other settings like exposure, gain, color intensity and white balance.  It didn’t take much to cause the image to be less than desirable but thought I found a good balance.  The main reason I wanted to turn off the automatic settings were to prevent the condition I was seeing where a time lapse would radically change during the day.  So, I checked the time lapse the next day.  The results were terrible.  I had tuned the auto settings on an overcast day.  However, the next day was sunny and the image was washed out.  So, I turned back on the auto settings.

Willing Webcam Initial Configuration

After selecting Willing Webcam at my preferred weather web camera software, I did the following initial configuration:

  • Video Device – I first selected the Logitech C910 as the video camera.  I also set the resolution at 1280×720.  I set the Location for longitude and latitude.  I set the time zone offset and a –60 for the sunrise and a +60 for the sunset.
  • Preferences – I selected JPG at 100.  I also selected to Start with Windows and Minimize on Start.
  • Text Caption – I entered the text to be “Woicik Weather Camera” at a vertical position of 10 and a horizontal position of 10.  I set the font size to 18 with a color of blue and a background of white.
  • Time Caption – I set the format to be “MM/dd/yyyy hh:mm am/pm” at a vertical position of 40 and a horizontal position of 10.  I set the font size to 18 with a color of blue and a background of white.
  • FTP Upload – I entered the Server, Username and Password information.  I entered a filename of “woicik_weather.jpg”  I set a Cycle of 5 minutes and enabled binding.  I set the schedule to be from sunrise to sunset all week.
  • Time Lapse – I checked to create a new file every day and a file name of “woicik_weather.avi”.  I set a Cycle of 1 minute and enabled binding.  I set the Compress to be “MS Video 1”.  I selected filename format to “use time” with a time format of “yyyymmdd”.  I set the schedule to be from sunrise to sunset all week.

I enabled FTP and Lapse and starting monitoring the work.  Everything worked great.  I did notice the CPU was being heavily used when the software was visible but was reduced when I minimized the software.  I still needed to figure out a mounting system and tweak the Willing Camera settings but it works like this is one I will purchase.

More Research of Weather Camera Software

Since I was convinced that ImageSalsa wasn’t the right choice and I couldn’t get the weather camera to work in Weather Display, I started over and searched for web camera software in general that could automatically upload an image and do a time-lapsed video.  I found these products:

  • Webcam XP
  • SebecTec
  • Willing Webcam
  • PhotoLapse
  • Yawcam
  • HandyAVI

Webcam XP didn’t have a time-lapse feature.  SebecTec only worked with a specific Olympus camera.  Willing Webcam looked good.  PhotoLapse just converted a JPG sequence to an AVI file.  Yawcam looked good.  HandyAVI couldn’t do single imaging.

I looked at Yawcam first.  It did met all the requirements and was even free.  However, though it did have some forums and did have a few upgrades in the 2011, that lack of a purchase price made me feel like it was just a hobby project.

Willing Webcam also meet all the requirements.  It had a forum and a large amount of support and FAQ content.  All the features were fully documented.  The price was reasonable for the full version at $59.95.

I tested both Yawcam and Willing Webcam.  I decided to move forward with Willing Webcam.