Autobahn Network Camera Proposal

The basic idea is to put a camera at the Autobahn, probably near the Yurt, and use a wireless network to transport its pictures back to the Lodges.

Among other uses this would give in-area viewers a situational awareness for the Autobahn area. The same image could be added to the collection of pictures shared on the public website.

As a "network camera", accessing this camera would be very similar to accessing the North Lodge's "Bowl Cam".

A side benefit would be network access becoming available at each site having a wireless "bridge". Within the capacity of the network links, computers, printers, and other network related devices could be hosted.

The rest of this page is intended to address specific details, to replace assumptions and imagination with details which can be discussed and modified as undesirable features are discovered.

The result of this proposal is to add an electronic "window", and then share it in a manner similar to how ODOT has shared its camera network with the public on its TripCheck web page.

Specific hardware models mentioned below are recommended (or not) based on in-area experience.

The Camera

Hardware implmentation is somewhat flexible. In the past year we have gained experience with two different hardware sets.

If a single high resolution view is desired, a 3 megapixel network camera could be used.
- We currently have four high-definition cameras, with views: ER, North, Southeast, Base area

An earlier generation 640x480 pixel network camera proved disappointing in that its sensor suffered from "image burn" and a color balance shift. Consultation with the manufacturer revealed a known deficiency which was addressed by the time they developed the 3Mp version. The best proof that the problem is fixed will be when the roving cameras, after a Summer's use, do not appear to include outlines of major image elements when they should be obscured by fog, and that grey skies are not tinted yellow. So far these symptoms have not been seen on the newer cameras.

Megapixel cameras require a higher quality lens than the typical "security" camera if you want to get the full benefit of all those extra pixels in the image.

If more than one view is desired, using analog "security" cameras and 4 channel "video encoder" is a possiblity. Image quality is 640x480 pixels.
- All but the "roving" cameras use this technology: e.g. South Lodge, 'Ed, and Manzanita

Both camera types could be used, as long as there is an available port on the network interface. The camera sites at Easy Rider and Green Dispatch are currently doing just this.

The Network

Use wireless "bridges" to connect one point to another.

A wireless bridge pair (one unit at each end of a path) can provide connectivity equivalent to a CAT5 cable, except that its maximum path length is claimed to be 3 miles instead of the cable's 100 meter (~yard) limit. The link can be encrypted, and so would be secure.

These units need a reasonably clear "line of sight" for long hops. Direct lodge-to-yurt would not be practical without removal of many large trees. A two-hop path (lodge-shop-yurt) may be practical with no removal of trees.

The hardware would survive best if protected from environmental extremes. (Such as temperature, humidity, and vibration) A space suitable for people is a good start. Equipment stays in a location year-round, so it may suffer abuse at times when people are not present: The Summer sun can get things really hot.

Full network access is available at each "bridge" unit. It typically is made available through the use of a network "switch".

Unknown Factors

"Unknown" is just that, but some unexpected problems may be encountered.

A lot was learned over the last year when the Ski Patrol converted its wired analog system to wireless & digital.

The biggest unknowns are in the new areas: New paths, installations, and environments.

The Installation

At the North Lodge At the Shops At the Yurt

The Parts List

This is the hardware we are using and have confidence in. Nothing special about most of this, but if you go shopping for alternatives there's always the opportunity for rude surprises.
Description Manufacturer / Model Quantity Vendor Cost Used at Manufacturer / Supplier
Wireless "bridge" (pair) / EZ-Bridge-LT2 2 BeezWax Products $199.00 Lodge-to-Shop & Shop-to-Yurt
Network "switch" - 5 port Netgear / GS105 ?? 2 Local computer store ~ $40 Shop, Yurt
Network camera Stardot / NetCam 3Mp TBD California PC ~ $1100 Yurt
Lens for network camera (if standard lens is not suitable)
(Megapixel cameras use better lenses)
TBD California PC ?? Yurt ??
Security camera (w/o lens) Pelco / CC3701H-2 TBD 123 Security Products $204 Yurt
Lens for security camera Pelco / 13VD5-50 TBD CCTV $117 Yurt
Video encoder - 2 (or 4) input - for security camera option Stardot / Express 2 (or 4) TBD California PC $441 (or $604) Yurt
CAT5 cables - 3, 7, 25, 50, 100 foot (generic) 5 + ?? Local computer store ?? Lodge, Shop, Yurt -
BNC cable, 70 Ohm coax - for security camera video (generic) TBD (1 per camera) - - Yurt -
RG-6 coax cable ?? TBD x x Yurt ??
Radio Shack
"F" to BNC adapter Radio Shack / ?? TBD Radio Shack /TD> x Yurt ??
Radio Shack
Surge suppressor Brick Wall / PW2R15 (or PW8R15) TBD (3) Brick Wall $189 (or $229) Lodge, Shop, Yurt
(or )
Outlet strip - suitable for loads (generic) 2 (generic) ?? Shop, Yurt -
Local hardware store
Extension cord - as needed (generic) ?? - ?? Lodge, Shop, Yurt -
Local hardware store
Mast & Weather enclosure(s) for camera(s) & wireless bridge Homebrew design - - - Yurt -
Window, bigger - - - - Shop -

Cat5 Cables - Locations

Lengths depend on hardware locations.

Power Protection - How many outlets?

Some "damage" is accumulative, so low-level abuse over time can eventually lead to failures. If you believe in protecting equipment from voltage spikes on power lines due to lightning strikes and variable frequency motor drives, consider using a protection box and power strip to protect the following loads.

While "Brick Wall" boxes look expensive, consider the replacement cost of what they protect. Then consider how many times you are willing to buy replacement hardware before you finally decide that having this protection may be worthwhile. In the Ski Patrol's case we lost an entire computer, a computer power supply, and one camera installation. Since using these, the Ski Patrol's computer and camera hardware have not suffered a failure in several years.

Ideally every part of a network connected via copper wires should be protected, lest an "unprotected" unit suffer a failure and share the voltage spike with devices connected to it. A printer with a fax telephone line is a double threat due to its power and phone connections, and its connection to a "protected" computer compromises the computer and everything else on the computer's network.

Plugging a spike creating load (e.g. circular saw) into a "protected" outlet also compromises the protection. We lost a computer power supply due to an event like this. Do not allow "protected" outlets to be used by by visiting buffers, vacuum cleaners, drills, saws, etc.

"Punch List"

"What's next?" Here's a possible order of events.

Last edits:
- 2011 09/27 9AM - Completed first-pass edits
- 2011 09/27 5PM - Added larger window consideration
- 2011 09/29 9AM - Added "Punch List"
- 2011 09/30 10PM - Added comments about using a "better" lens on a megapixel camera
- 2011 09/30 10PM - Added sample Autobahn picture into "Hoodoo Butte pictures" page
- 2011 10/27 - Added concern about "low E" glass impact on wireless bridge's signal strength (& work-around)
- 2011 10/27 - Added to discussion on protecting units from environmental extremes
- 2011 11/05 - Discovered energy efficient windows are a problem.
- 2014 12/10 - Revisited this page briefly, made a few edits. Added a picture so it's not all just words.