Arduino powering a motion sensing webcam for Owl Watching!?

Hi Guys,

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

I would like to ask a question that involves linking a webcam, potentially an arduino, some storage and a Snowy Owl!

2 years ago I put a box specifically designed for Owls to nest in on a friends farm and i'm very happy to report that there is finally a Snowy Owl nesting in it!!

So now to my question, i would like to video their activities, but I understand that a Arduino would not be powerful enough to capture footage from a webcam and save it to an SD card, could anyone reccomend a device/chip that would?

My plan from there is quite simple, connecting up a motion sensor to an arduino, so that when the motion is detected the webcam will power up and record the next say 5mins, then close.

I'm thinking that if the arduino can't do this, then I would use a ATTiny45 to handle the motion sensor, then trigger the recording off a seperate chip? would this be sound idea?

Many thanks to you guys and all the very best with your arduino-ing!!

Kay Warner

An Arduino cannot handle the byte stream even a simple webcam produces. Use an embedded Linux board to do such stuff, you can even do the motion detection there. One (out of many) example of such a board: http://shop.boxtec.ch/product_info.php/products_id/40883.

I would have thought that a simple motion detector could be coupled to the shutter control of an ordinary video camera.

Thats a great link thank you Pylon! it's clear that against my preference, I might have to head towards a Linux based board.

But the question is now, how steep is the learning curve between Arduino-based boards and Linux ones?

Thanks for your comment Nick Gannon, I had originally gone down this route, which like you say is entirely feasible, but I was uneasy about leaving my video camera in a tree. hence this new strategy.

From a coding point of view it's not such steep a learning curve, it's just that you have a full-fledged operating system beneath you and not the raw processor as you have on the Arduino. So accessing the hardware may be a bit harder but you have to care much less about RAM and CPU cycles. A great plus: on Linux you have the fantastic OpenCV library which is a huge arsenal of computer vision algorithms.

pylon: on Linux you have the fantastic OpenCV library which is a huge arsenal of computer vision algorithms.

.... not to mention the cute penguin.

KayWarner:
Thanks for your comment Nick Gannon, I had originally gone down this route, which like you say is entirely feasible, but I was uneasy about leaving my video camera in a tree. hence this new strategy.

If I may suggest … I have a video baby monitor I bought recently (I don’t have babies any more). It is basically a cheap video camera (with infra-red lighting) which transmits to a receiver which is reasonably close.

It’s the sort of thing you could put in a tree … it runs off a 6V plugpack so could easily be powered by a battery. And it’s cheap enough that it isn’t the end of the world if something happens to it. Here:

http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=QC3251

I’m not sure about recording the end result (short of pointing another camera at the receiver) but conceptually it is all basically done for you.

Cheers for that Nick, you see, its interesting when you put things out there in a forum, i had not considered splitting it like you suggest. In my head it had always been one unit. I will have a google about - thank you!

Thanks for your input Pylon, I think I will need to investigate this further. This is exactly what I want to do but do I need to run Linux to compile this? as I only have a Windows Vista PC.

That OpenCV library looks absolutely awesome!! I never even knew that kind of processing was avalible as an open source project!

thanks guys, you've all been a great help.

I constantly work on Linux so I'm not a good reference for cross-compilers on Windows but as AVR-GCC is also available on Windows I'd guess that the ARM version is too. Probably you could do all your development in the IDE you like most, if every other options does not work, you're able to compile on the target platform itself (it's a complete OS, you could run the compiler on it).