Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lights, camera, and dogs?

One of the most important steps in building an ROV is getting a camera on the robot so we can see where we are driving the unit. It's also important because the camera is what we will be using to document each dive.

The lion and I have been looking all over the net trying to find a balance between cost of a good camera, size, ease of long cable transmission and something that could be recorded directly on a computer.

Up until yesterday we have been coming up rather flat; that is until we went to Menards for a rake and some spring yard cleaning supplies.

We were walking towards the plumbing department to check out some of the supplies we would be needing to build the modules that will house the camera(s) and lights need when I caught a glimpse of one of those do it your self security cameras. Blink, the light bulb turned on and I got an idea.

So I wander over to the security camera display and start looking at the five or so models they have. I'll be honest, for our purpose most of them totally sucked, but one stood out.

First the unit had near DVD quality resolution and then I discovered it had another very cool attribute... it also has built in infra-red. I kid you not I was darn near drooling.

At about that time the Lion came back to fetch me and we went over to the plumbing department where I started rummaging around to find parts for the ROV. Next time I look up... the Lion had wandered off.

So off I go looking around for a Lion at Menards and find her... and yep you guessed it.. at the security camera display.

To paraphrase Joan Rivers, we talked, and decided to give it a shot. (After I talked to customer service to make sure I could bring it back if it didn't meet our needs!)

So now we have the camera. As a test I hooked it up to our cheap TV and ran it around the house. (It comes with a 10 meter [30 foot] cable.) It worked better than either of us expected. Now here is the dog part.....

I moved the camera in real close to one of our dogs and low and behold (because the light was low for the subject matter) there on the screen was a very cute fur ball in infrared.(Black and white - like cheap night vision!) I was sold on the quality of the camera.

Next time I'll tell you how we found an simple solution on how to get the video onto one of our laptops.

Ta for now.... PG };8>

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